The NC State club flag football team took two teams to the National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association Southeast Regional in Wilmington, and both teams impressed. Team Wolf and Team Pack both advanced out of pool play and into bracket play, where they each lost sooner than they’d have hoped.
“The tournament … was fun,” said club president Daniel Lee. “But I’m a little disappointed in our outcome. We didn’t finish in the top four which I think both of our teams could have done.”
Team Pack went 1-1 in pool play on Saturday, losing to ECU’s “Matt Damon” team 46-6 before pulling out a thrilling 27-26 overtime win against South Carolina Union. With Matt Damon also beating USC Union, Pack finished second in the pool and qualified for single-elimination bracket play as the ninth seed out of ten.
The buck stopped there for Pack, though, as it ran into a quality UNC-Charlotte team. Pack fought hard to the end, but UNCC kept it at arm’s length as Pack tried to muster a comeback, and it fell 21-8.
On Saturday, Team Wolf pulled out a pair of exciting, one-score wins. Wolf escaped UNC-Greensboro 20-13 after a late rally by UNC-G, but before that, a thrilling 19-15 win over the United States Marine Corps’ “Show Stoppers” team excited all spectators.
With Wolf trailing for most of the game and the offense struggling to move the ball downfield, junior quarterback Isaac Bell found sophomore wide receiver Conner McManus for a go-ahead touchdown with just under two minutes to play.
But the Show Stoppers wouldn’t go down without a fight, as the Marine Corps’ finest marched down the field and scored with 37 seconds remaining to take a 15-13 lead, seemingly for good.
On the ensuing drive, Bell’s first pass fell incomplete and with just under 30 seconds to go and one timeout to drive over 60 yards down the field to win the game, things looked bleak for Wolf.
That’s when McManus, who scored three touchdowns in Wolf’s opening game, broke free down the right sideline. Bell, who was under pressure all game, sidestepped the pass rush and moved up in the pocket, keeping his eyes downfield. He lofted a pass deep to the right, and as the Show Stoppers’ safety came over to try and break up the pass, the ball inched right past the safety’s outstretched fingers and into McManus’ hands, who corralled the ball and sprinted into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown with just 18 seconds remaining.
“I couldn’t brag enough about Conner,” Lee said. “He’s always there making the play that needs to be made. Whether it’s an interception or … a last-second touchdown … you can always bet on him to make the play.”
Wolf and Pack may have used all their luck on Saturday, however, as both teams fell in their first game of bracket play. Pack bowed out at the hands of UNC-Charlotte in the first round and Wolf, which got a bye into the second round, couldn’t get past High Point in the quarterfinals.
Despite trailing 14-0 early, the Wolf defense was nearly impenetrable the rest of the way, consistently forcing key stops and turnovers to put the ball into the offense’s hands for a comeback. When Wolf scored a late touchdown with just under two minutes to play to cut the deficit to 14-13, it looked like it might follow in Pack’s footsteps to overtime. But the extra-point conversion try was no good and Wolf’s weekend was over.
“I thought we played hard,” Lee said. “High Point University is a tough team, they’re well versed. They’re not the most athletic but they know the game the most.”
The tournament was the club’s last of the fall season, and it capped off an impressive season which saw Wolf place second in the Battle of the Atlantic tournament that NC State hosted and both teams beat UNC-Chapel Hill in rivalry games.
“We’re only going up from here,” Lee said.