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An Arena Cup Nailbiter, 55-51

by Mike Vergane
August 11, 2001 - arenafootball2 (af2)

An Arena Cup Nailbiter, 55-51

by Mike Vergane

A three-yard touchdown pass to WR/LB Scott Hvistendahl crossing through the back of the endzone with :10 remaining gave the Quad City Steamwheelers a 55-51 victory over the Richmond Speed and their second Arena Cup championship in arenafootball2.

For Hvistendahl, it was a perfect ending to an injury plagued season. As of Tuesday, he watched from the sidelines in street clothes as his teammates prepared for the biggest game of the season. His hamstring also kept him out of eight regular season games.

Hvistendahl's big moment came in an Arena Cup game that saw a total of 15 lead changes as each team scored on all but one of its possesions. It was also an Arena Cup game that saw MVP Jay McDonagh of the Steamwheelers throw for 280 yards and three TD's. None was more important than the toss to Hvistendahl that capped the four play final drive that gave Quad City the win. The scenario began with the Richmond Speed pulling ahead 51-48 with 1:22 remaining after Speed QB Bob Bees hit Kevin Harvey on a 13-yard TD pass.

The Steamwheelers began their game winning drive with 1:07 remaining on the clock. The big play that set up the Scott Hvistendahl touchdown catch was on another crossing pattern that Scott took down the sidelines to the Richmond four yard line.

On the next play, af2 Lineman Of The Year Jamaar Ward lined up in the backfield and took a handoff that only got him to the three yard line. However, after the game Quad City Coach Frank Haege admitted that the objective of the play was to run time off the clock, not to score. Haege felt if the Steamwheelers scored too early, Richmond would have more than enough time left to push downfield on their ensuing drive, and thus win the game.

Haege's gamble paid off when, on the very next play, McDonagh found Hvistendahl in the endzone leaving Richmond with only :07 seconds and no timeouts left to try a Hail Mary pass the length of the field. It would be batted down by DS Clarence Thompson.

Ironically, it was Thompson who was on the field for another famous Hail Mary pass in the collegiate circles. In 1994, Wolverine Defensive Back Clarence Thompson watched Colorado QB Cordell Stewart hit Michael Westbrook for a game-winning touchdown with no time remaining in a classic contest that will forever be known in Ann Arbor as, 'The Catch.'

This time for Thompson, he batted the ball away as time expired on the Richmond Speed and their chances for a comeback.

Championship games like this can catapult leagues to the next level in popularity. This nationally televised game was watched closely in all the 2002 expansion markets.

I guarantee that there will be plenty of fans making phone calls Monday morning to their local team's offices wanting information on tickets - solely because of this game between Richmond and Quad City.

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