After a killer quarterfinals round for most of the semis teams, we halfway expected to see some dead tired players taking the fields for the Tally Classic’s Final Four. However, the tournament director announced that the championship bracket teams would be taking a full bye before continuing to play. While the announcement frustrated some teams (Virginia and Michigan State had already begun their game), others were thrilled to hear the news, as it meant an hour to rest weary legs before a shot at $1000 was put on the line.
On one side of the bracket was a game between Cinderella story Clemson Joint Chiefs and last year’s Tally Classic champions, Notre Dame Papal Rage. Clemson had already pulled out two magical double game point victories over sectional rival Clemson over the course of the weekend but Papal Rage made sure that it wouldn’t fall into the same trap. Double game point came calling again but it was Notre Dame that answered the call this time, winning 13-12.
Notre Dame Papal Rage vs. Clemson Joint Chiefs
At this point in the tournament, especially with $1000 on the line, it’s customary that your stars start to shine a little bit brighter. This game was no exception to the rule. Notre Dame’s Michael Banning and Andrew Schroeder played extremely well and Clemson’s Ben Slade and Keenan Watson followed suit. In the end though, Banning and Schoeder had just a little bit more in the tank than their opponents.
The game started with Clemson throwing a zone and Notre Dame turning the disc on an errant throw. The Joint Chiefs did the same thing they had been doing all tournament long, capitalizing on their opponents mistakes, Watson threw the score for the break and the Clemson lead, 1-0.
Schroeder had a brief, but quite serious talk with his team and he apparently practiced what he had been preaching because the ND offense worked the disc around the Clemson zone before Schroeder hucked it to an open man for the score and to tie it at 1-1.
Clemson would score on its next point but Notre Dame would be unable to answer, missing on a huck. The Joint Chiefs found one of their freshman standouts, James Cox, in the endzone to take the first break of the game and a 3-1 lead.
However, this lead would be a little bit more difficult to hold on to as Notre Dame scored on its next possession to sophomore Will Cernac. Papal Rage followed that up with a break of its own to tie the game at 3-3. ND continued that momentum as a Clemson turn near its own endzone led to Papal Rage taking its first lead of the game 4-3.
The teams would stay on serve until 5-5 when Cox would throw a score to Watson after a Papal Rage turn to retake the lead 6-5. Then, another Notre Dame miscue led to Clemson having the disc on the goaline. Realizing the importance of taking another break into halftime, Clemson called a timeout. Out of the timeout, the Joint Chiefs lined up in an isolation set. As soon as the disc was in Slade started moving and everyone knew he wanted the disc, ND’s Banning was playing solid defense and prevented Slade from getting into the endzone, but that was exactly what CU wanted. Slade cut back for the dump and before Banning could even put a mark on, Slade had floated a flick to the breakside where his receiver, who had just dumped the disc to him, was wide open. The Joint Chiefs took half 7-5 and were receiving out of halftime.
However, that advantage was for naught as Notre Dame managed to earn a break on the first second half possession and narrow the gap to 7-6 in Clemson’s favor. It was obvious that there was going to be quarter given for the rest of the game as no point went without at least one turn from each team and the teams traded points until the score at 9-10 in Clemson’s favor.
At this point, Papal Rage knew that it had to act fast. The team did just that, forcing a turn and immediately sending a disc into the endzone for the score and the break, the game was now tied at 10-10.
Notre Dame still needed a break to win and Slade gave them plenty of opportunity on a flick huck that got caught by the wind and turned into a 50/50 shot in the endzone. A crowd of players gathered and, perhaps because of a desire to be the guy that made the play, all jumped early and the pass floated harmlessly into the waiting arms of a flat footed Joint Chief behind the crowd. Clemson took an 11-10 lead.
Papal Rage then calmly walked the disc down the field to tie the game at 11-11. At this point, the soft cap came on and it was a game to 13. Notre Dame would still need a break to win and after a Clemson turn, they made sure that they got it, calling a timeout and then scoring the disc to take the 12-11 lead. Clemson would score its next point to send the game to double game point but Notre Dame wouldn’t let Clemson touch the disc again, Banning hit Schroeder in the endzone for the game winning score.
After the game, Schroeder couldn’t give enough credit to his opponents.
“We went down,” Schroeder said. “That’s a really good team, I don’t know how we beat them twice this year, on universe point both times.”
However, he also gave credit where it was due, to his own team.
“It’s real nice to see that we have the fight,” Schroeder said. “We’re not going to give up when we’re down two or three breaks, we’re going to keep fighting.
Slade was sad that the tournament run was over but, as should be expected, he was leaving the tournament with very little regrets.
“There are a ton of positives,” Slade said. “The fact that we played every game close here means that it’s going to be harder for teams to intimidate us. Especially for our younger guys. Both the teams that we lost to, we lost to on universe point, so I feel like, when we’re on, we can play with anybody.”