Story by Blake Bernier, Staff writer
In the opening game of the intramural flag football playoffs, Clark outlasted Sigma Pi in an overtime thriller 42-35.
Nearing the end of regulation, Sigma Pi faced a seven-point deficit with 50 seconds left. After allowing a first down on the first play, Sigma Pi tightened up on defense and used all three timeouts. The game came down to a fourth down play with four seconds remaining. Sigma Pi sent a quick rush and managed to sack the quarterback with one second still on the clock.
With the game on the line Sigma Pi needed a touchdown and the defense knew a Hail Mary pass was coming. The ball was launched deep downfield into a crowd of five players and ended up falling into the hands of Sigma Pi player Travis Griffith, junior from Benton, Kentucky after a deflection from Clark’s Nick Wildman, senior from St. Louis.
“The defender tipped the ball and I was just lucky enough to be there to bring it down,” Griffith said.
Prior to the play, Clark cornerbacks and safeties backed off 20 yards to defend the play, with the mindset to swat the ball away and not to catch it.
“The ball was up in the air and I was the one screaming ‘Knock it down! Knock it down! Knock it down!’ and there was a guy behind me,” Wildman said. “The ball came right to me and I tried to knock it down but instead I popped it up for their team to catch it and they tied the game.”
After the touchdown, the Sigma Pi sideline supporters yelled for the players on the field to go for the two-point conversion and the win. However, Sigma Pi decided to play it safe and tie the game up with the one-point conversion attempt.
In overtime, Clark started on offense and scored quickly with a touchdown pass from Wildman. After the extra point conversion, Clark took a 42-35 lead.
Sigma Pi headed to the field, trailing again, and began to move the ball closer to the endzone. On the third play from scrimmage a second deflected pass fell into the hands of a Clark player, for an interception that ended the game.
Both defenses struggled throughout the game, but the Clark defense came through in the end to seal the victory.
Clark quarterback Wildman threw for seven touchdowns and no interceptions including two passes that covered more than half of the field.
“I saw openings in the middle and deep corners,” Wildman said. “I just threw the ball up and let my team do all the rest of the work.”
The Sigma Pi defense struggled to apply pressure to the quarterback and the zones behind the pass rush suffered and failed time and time again.
“They kept getting into holes in our coverage,” Griffith said. “It took us a while to get to the quarterback so it was a tough game.”
As Clark moves ahead in the playoff tournament the team plans to continue playing like they have all year.
“We kind of just do it as we see it,” Wildman said. “We play it by ear and don’t really have a game plan going in.”