Ladies and Gentlemen, I welcome you, to the 13th edition of the Hammer Bowl. My five favorite teams have slugged it out in a simulated 5 team single elimination tournament and now we are all set to see the final two remaining teams.
Central Missouri has been the Cinderella team coming into this year’s Hammer Tournament. They struggled through the first half of their regular season. In their first 6 games they had a losing record of 2-4. However they seemed to find their footing in the second half of the season and went on a 4 game winning streak to finish the season. UCM finished the season 6-4. With no NCAA DII Playoffs or a bowl game to look forward to UCM quietly sat back and stayed out of the limelight as Oklahoma and the Kansas City Chiefs took all of the attention as they swapped back and forth all season from #1 and #2. With Southwestern Oklahoma State losing 5 games UCM knew the #3 spot was secure.
Then the Hammer Tournament started and Southwestern Oklahoma State defeated Northeastern Oklahoma A&M like they were expected to, and Oklahoma defeated Southwestern Oklahoma State like they were expected to. Everyone watched as Oklahoma accepted a bid for the Championship Round just like they had done 12 times in the past. UCM sat and watched as everyone anxiously awaited Oklahoma Vs Kansas City (the #1 Vs #2) which seemed to be so inevitable throughout the regular season Hammer Tournament Standings. All that remained was for UCM to slip quietly away and allow the Kansas City Chiefs their first trip to the Hammer Bowl.
However Central Missouri had a different destiny planned out for that Semifinal game. Kansas City was favored to win, they had home field advantage, and they knew they were destined to face Oklahoma since they had spent all season swapping first and second place with them. Instead Central Missouri came rushing out of the gate hard and fast and blew the Chiefs completely off their pedestal. UCM scored 3 consecutive times in the first half and at one point led Kansas City 16 to nothing. Kansas City did climb out of that hole a bit with a TD and a Field Goal but a sturdy Central Missouri defense kept them out of the end zone for the entire second half. On that day Central Missouri pulled a major upset and defeated the Kansas City Chiefs and punched their ticket for their 3rd Hammer Bowl in 4 years.
The Oklahoma Sooners started strong and finished strong with a minor level of struggle in the middle of their regular season. OU was 5-0 heading into their annual showdown with Texas but lost 20 to 36 then four weeks later OU suffered the second and final loss of the season on a Thursday night game against Baylor. Major victories through the regular season included wins against #22 Notre Dame, #10 Texas Tech, & #6 Oklahoma State. OU then accepted a bid to play in the Sugar Bowl and defeated Alabama 45 to 31. The decision of who would finish with the coveted #1 seed for the Hammer Tournament was decided that week when OU upset Alabama and the Kansas City Chiefs were upset by the Indianapolis Colts. Powered by the victory in the Sugar Bowl Oklahoma rocketed into the Hammer Tournament with high expectations. In the first half of the Semifinal game against Southwestern Oklahoma State Oklahoma scored 3 times to produce a 17 to 3 lead before the half. The momentum shifted however when Oklahoma allowed a safety before the half. This momentum shift was carried into the second half when Southwestern Oklahoma State shutout Oklahoma but OU found a way to win anyway in utilization of their defense. That game ended with a struggling Oklahoma standing triumphant 17 to 5.
And now here we are in the Championship and once again we see familiar faces against each other. Oklahoma is currently at 12-2 for the season and coming off a game in which they struggled to maintain a lead. And Central Missouri is currently at 7-4 for the season and coming off one of the greatest performances that the Hammer Tournament has ever laid witness to. Hammer Bowl XIII is about to begin and UCM wins the toss and elects to receive the ball first here at the Rose Bowl.
UCM starts their drive near the 20 yard line and they immediately make their presence known. 3 plays later and UCM is already knocking on the door. UCM draws first blood against the mighty Oklahoma Sooners with a little over 13 minutes left in the first quarter.
OU 0, UCM 7
In a heavy weight slugfest OU and UCM maintain the ball between the 30 yard lines. Drives begin and drive end well outside of field goal range for both teams. It is the beginning of the 2nd quarter before OU finally answers back.
OU 7, UCM 7
Midway through the 2nd quarter both teams are playing absolutely phenomenal football and penalties are at an absolute minimum. With under 5 minutes to go UCM has the ball near OU’s 40 yard line and they are sitting just outside of field goal range with a first down.
1st and 10 from the OU 38 and UCM runs a screen and gets the ball to the 31.
2nd and 3 from the OU 31 and OU’s defense stands up the running back before he crosses the line of scrimmage.
3rd and 6 from the OU 32 and OU sacks UCM’s quarterback. UCM got caught looking for the end zone and the QB took way too much time finding an open receiver.
PENALTY, this is the first penalty called in this game and it’s encroachment against OU.
UCM is now looking at a 3rd and 1 with 3 minutes remaining in the first half.
The next play OU knocks down the pass and UCM is forced to kick a field goal.
OU 7, UCM 10
UCM regains the lead as both teams are getting ready for UCM to kick off to OU with 2:30 remaining in the first half.
The OU kickoff returner gets the ball 5 yards deep in the end zone. He dodges a tackle at the 10 and spins to the right. He’s at the 20. He allows the wall of blockers in front of him to block 3 UCM players out of the way and now he’s at the 30. He’s at the 40. He’s crosses the 50 and is now at a dead sprint as there is one UCM player between him and the end zone. The OU kickoff returner and the last remaining UCM tackler collide near the UCM 35. FUMBLE. OU fumbles the ball and there is a pile up on the field as the referees are digging through the pile. 1st down UCM signals the referee. UCM may have just split this game wide open as they have the ball with 90 seconds remaining and the lead just before half. And now it looks like we are going to instant replay. It looks like the ball carriers knee was down before the ball came out. It will be 1st and 10 at the UCM 35 yard line.
OU has the ball, 1st and 10, UCM 35, 90 seconds remaining. It’s a 10 yard run up the middle for another 1st down
1st and 10, UCM 25, 74 seconds remaining. It’s another run, this time for 5 yards. The clock is still running.
2nd and 5, UCM 20, 60 seconds remaining and counting. Incomplete pass to the left.
3rd and 5, UCM 20, 50 seconds remaining. The OU running back takes the ball and goes around the right side. He’s hit hard after a 4-5 yard gain and fumbles the ball. OU recovers but now it is 4th down with under 30 seconds remaining.
4th and 1, UCM 16, 25 seconds remaining. OU lines up for a 34 yard field goal to tie the game. IT’S GOOD. OU ties the game and we head to halftime tied 10-10. This has been one hard fought football game where we have seen relatively low scoring and very few penalties. The second half will be posted tomorrow. See you then.