Yankees claim crown, keep Ghosts cursed
Jason Tale saved playoff breakout for last
But for a stretch between midway through the second quarter and midway through the third, this would have been another Caspter style defensive mudfight. All the scoring outside that stretch was a Casper touchdown and a Connecticut field goal. But in that stretch, the Yankees scored on five straight possessions to make this the second most lopsided Hyperbowl. Flagstaff won 35-3 in 1983 over Chattanooga.
The Yankees turned the table on the Ghosts, playing much the style the latter have been famous for in the post-season and were expected to play without starting WR I.B. Long, who was injured in their first playoff game against Oklahoma. Casper running back Jock Kitsch is one of the best at carrying games on his shoulders. Connecticut was expected to exploit the loss of Long with their own WR Wayne Wayne Goaway who had already dominated the playoffs. But RB Jason Tale, the league's leading rusher who had been quite during the playoffs, had the big game for Connecticut, and even running mate Wayne Kerr helped get it going.
Casper struck quick on the first drive and looked set to dominate. QB Peter Andy Woolf finished the four-play drive off with a 26-yard pass to TE Phil Ashio, then the 31-yard TD to WR Terry Longer coming off the bench. Casper picked up where they left off with great defense, stopping two Connecticut drives. On the second one, Tale had a 23-yard run, but the Ghosts blew it up with a 9-yard sack of QB Phil Anders on third down. The Yankees had to settle for a field goal, a 42-yarder by kicker Wyatt Hurts.
Casper took the ball and rolled out their ball control rush, and looked like they would steamroll the Yankees: Kitsch for 6 yards, RB Rip Yanuwan 6 yards, 6 again for Yanuwan, 8 for Kitsch, then 7 more for Yanuwan. Finally the Ghosts tried to pass and the Yankees dropped Woolf for a yard loss. That slowed the Ghosts and they forced them to turn it over on downs. Connecticut missed a 51-yard attempt on their next possession.
They forced the Ghosts out on three downs, and then they didn't miss. On a fourth down, Anders hooked up with Goaway for 25 yards to the 19, and Kerr carried it in from there on the next play. Connecticut up 10-7. Three and out Casper. The Yankees started off with a 16-yard punt return. TE Lou Stemper had a 21-yard catch to the Casper 27. Tale carried 11 to the 16, and after failing twice to get in with passes, Kerr took in an again, 16 yards. The half ended three plays later with the game suddenly flip-flopped to Connecticut.
First drive of the second half: Connecticut scores in five plays. Goaway went 48 yards on a reverse to the Casper 10. Tale took in from there and Connecticut led 24-7. On Casper's next play from scrimmage, WR Barry Smelly fumbled on a reverse play and the Yankees recovered on the Casper 31. It took them five plays to cover that, with Tale on the receiving end of the 9-yard TD pass from Anders.
Connecticut held Casper to -7 yards on three plays and got the ball back on their own 49 after the punt. It took them four plays to score. The first one was a 28-yard run by Tale. Anders threw to WR Marian Draper for the last 9 and the TD: 38-7.
It happened so fast, the gap in points and the game turning lopsided, it seemed the Yankees were as much in disbelief as anyone. After Casper turned the ball over on downs on their next drive, they Yankees drove all the way to the Casper 14, and then went for it on fourth down instead of trying a field goal. It seemed they were being more merciful not to tack on more points.
The rest of the fourth quarter fell back into the same defensive struggle it had been before the Yankee scoring streak, though it now it felt like utter futility and desperation for Casper. The Ghosts missed a 54-yard field goal attempt, but otherwise punted and gained only one first down. Casper's curse has been that they have dominated the league in the regular season for more than a decade, but apart from 2009 when they won the Hyperbowl, have lost in the playoffs before even getting there. Now after perhaps their most dominant season ever, they lose Long, get a great performance without him to get back to the Hyperbowl, only to have this happen.
Without Long, Casper didn't have the advantage on offense and the Yankees posed an even bigger threat than Olympia mainly because of Goaway. But Connecticut passed for 165 yards, to 156 for Casper. Goaway had only 5 catches for 55 yards. It was opportunistic offense, the ability to capitalize and be versatile on offense that was key for Connecticut, the same formula for success for the last two Hyperbowl winners, Oklahoma and Manhattan, both teams rocketed to the top in one season. The Yankees look like more than a one-season wonder, however, as they are losing no long-time veterans and rookie QB Anders, the Eastern Conference newcomer of the year, was the league's leading passer.