Sports

Freshmen Underdogs Upset the Reigning Champs

PLNU’s Intramural 2022 Flag Football Champions. Photo courtesy of Alisa Ward.

Sunday was for the Superbowl. But Saturday? Saturday was for Point Loma Nazarene University’s annual Intramural Flag Football tournament, which showcased a championship game nearly as exciting as the Superbowl. There wasn’t a halftime performance headlined by Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre, or fireworks and confetti for the winners, but the progression of the actual gameplay was oddly similar. Both games appeared to be an underdog story waiting to happen: the Bengals going up against the star studded team in the Rams, and the freshmen facing the three-time champion upperclassmen.

The Rams were victorious as they defeated the young Bengals team. America’s underdog was taken down in what ended up being a thrilling game, but the Rams’ commanding win proved to the world why they were the favorites going into the game.

There was a different ending, and a far more surprising one, here at PLNU. The reigning champs towered over the fresh faces on campus in what panned out to be a landslide victory. 

It was seemingly business as usual for the upperclassmen, who had been in this championship game several times in the past. The freshmen, however, remained unwavered and united as they took the field with confidence.

Earlier that afternoon as teams played for their spot in the championship, the upperclassmen had actually beat the freshmen by a 20-point margin. 

Freshman team captain and Finance major, Clynton Lamur acknowledged their poor performance in the seeding game.“We played nervous in the first game, and ultimately we weren’t having fun,” Lamur said. 

 The freshmens’ early jitters were similar to those seen in the equally as young Bengals team. Joe Burrow, the quarterback for the Bengals, played in his first Superbowl in only his second season at the professional level. He was alongside his top two wide receivers who were drafted in the last two years, further attesting to the youth of the team. 

Fans could see in the Superbowl how the Bengals weren’t making the plays they typically would as a result of being nervous, something the freshmen were luckily able to improve on in the championship game. One Bengals fan and blogger, Cole Huff, said the Bengals, “visibly got tighter and felt a little bit of pressure.” 

But at PLNU, the change in the freshmans’ mentality was that Lamur got them to loosen up and not take it so seriously.

Lamur and his team embraced their underdog status heading into the final game against the team that previously beat them in embarrassing fashion. 

“We just wanted to have fun and play better defense,” Lamur said, which was the difference entering the second game. 

Another similarity between the Superbowl and PLNU’s Intramural Championship was the questionable officiating down the stretch. The Rams made some important strides late in the Superbowl thanks to the refs possibly missing some calls; a situation that some may say happened in Point Loma’s game too—this time helping the underdog team instead.

Cameran Sherwood, a third-year kinesiology major, led the upperclassmen team. 

“You’ll have refs that will lose you the game, refs that win you the game, but you can’t blame them if at the end of the day it was your fault,” Sherwood said.

The Bengals head coach Zac Taylor had similar thoughts about the refereeing of the Superbowl, ultimately not blaming them for his team’s loss. 

“I just want to give credit to the Rams. They won this game,” Taylor said. 

Identical to Sherwood,Taylor recognized his team’s inability to make more plays down the stretch like the Rams did; something the refs shouldn’t be held accountable for. 

Regardless of his disappointment in how the game ended, Sherwood had plenty of praise for the freshmen. “The second game they played really well, and they were able to make nice adjustments,” Sherwood said. 

Just as America expected the Rams to beat the Bengals, many people on campus were expecting the three-time champs to make it a fourth consecutive victory. Lamur and his young squad coming out on top of the PLNU Intramural Football League was surprising to most, including one referee and intramural supervisor, James Adams.

 Despite the unexpected ending, Adams felt as though the game went smoothly and was glad it was competitive. “I was surprised the young guys came out with a win considering it was the championship game and they were up against a fairly experienced upperclassmen squad,” Adams said. 

America saw the underdog Bengals come up short in completing the upset in the Superbowl, but here at PLNU, there was a more storybook ending. The newcomers on campus defied all odds and bounced back from a loss earlier in the day to overcome the once-dominant upperclassmen. The Intramural Champions t-shirts Lamur and his team showed off postgame were probably not as nice as the Rams’ Lombardi trophy, but the young team has all year to call themselves champs before likely facing the upperclassmen once again.

Written By: Nick Hancock

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