A see-saw, back–and-forth contest, featuring a big lead change along with some massive plays left the crowd cheering super loud and the participants a bit breathless, as the Dirty Birds rallied to top the Blue Devils 24-13 in the Pee Wee Unified Football Finals at High Tech Signs field at Riverview Park on Monday night.
Early on it looked as if the Dirty Birds might fly away with the title, as their fast-strike offense hit pay dirt in the first quarter.
Dirty Birds’ tailback Jayden Greene took the opening handoff and raced 41 yards setting his squad up deep in Blue Devils’ territory. Four plays later, Isaiah Dupree sprinted eight yards into the end zone, handing the Dirty Birds a 6-0 lead early in the first quarter.
The Dirty Birds’ defense took over and forced a three and out from the Blue Devils. On their first possession of their second drive, Greene again broke free, except this time he rambled all the way to the end zone on a 40-yard jaunt, extending the lead to 12-0 with 3:37 left in the opening quarter.
With things starting to leak bleak for the Blue Devils, the squad manufactured a big play of its own to get back in the game. Kohen Rozier rolled out and lofted a pass to Bear Bridges who caught it and took off 51 yards for a touchdown, cutting the lead to 12-6 with time waning in the first quarter.
The big play electrified the Blue Devils’ crowd and their defense, as they forced the Dirty Birds to turn the ball over on downs on the next possession.
Three plays later, Bridges broke fee and was off to the races, covering 44 yards for a rushing touchdown and tying the game at 12. The tie was short lived, as Bridges converted on the extra point run, handing the Blue Devils a 13-12 lead they carried into halftime.
After the first two quarters filled with explosive offensive plays, the third quarter seemed relaxed as both team’s defenses began exerting their wills on their foe. Neither squad managed a significant gain on offense during the quarter, leaving the Blue Devils holding the one-point advantage entering the final quarter.
The fireworks hit again on the first play in the fourth quarter as Bridges hooked up with Noah Fox for a 30-yard pass, setting the Blue Devil’s up inside the Dirty Birds’ 15-yard line. The Dirty Birds’ defense rose to the occasion though, keeping the Blue Devils out of the end zone. The Blue Devils had two close pass plays but weren’t able to haul either one in and turned the ball over on downs.
The Dirty Birds’ offense caught fire again. On the ensuing play, Greene took a handoff and sped around the right end and past the Blue Devils’ squad for a 90-yard touchdown throwing their fans into jubilation and retaking the lead 18-13 with 5:24 left in the game.
The Blue Devils’ offense found some answers again with a couple of big runs from Bridges and Fox helping move them inside the Dirty Birds’ 20-yard line. The Dirty Birds’ defense refused to bend and forced back-to-back incompletions, and the Blue Devils turned the ball on over downs.
On the next play, the Dirty Birds called Greene’s number and the tailback delivered racing around the right end and down the field for an 86-yard touchdown, upping the lead to 24-13 and effectively ending the game with little time left on the clock.
The Blue Devils’ offense tried to get moving but time ran out, handing the Dirty Birds the championship.
Greene led all rushers in the game, amassing 198 yards on eight carries and scoring three touchdowns. Dupree added 23 yards on four carries and the one touchdown, while Tylik Jackson rushed for 77 yards on five carries.
Bridges was the leading rusher for the Blue Devils, as he rolled up 74 yards on nine carries and recorded both touchdowns. He also finished with 51 yards receiving. Fox finished with 15 rushing yards and a 30-yard reception for the Blue Devils.