Grid Iron Mind Games ...
Bruce's route to the finals started with a 26-3 victory over
Wrasslin' Guru Ray Stakenas. He then had the first scare of many
against long time FBS league player Jim Vroom. Jim jumped out
to an early 14-0 lead and still led 21-14 by halftime. Bruce
then got it together late in the third quarter and took the lead
but the game wasn't put away until a 4th quarter safety which
proved to be the margin of victory. The 40-38 win was the most
points he had ever given up in a tournament game. This set up
the semi-final with a rematch of last year's final against Bill
Cleary - the last winner of the now defunct AH FBS league.
Bill's route to the final included defeating one of the Dolan
clan and whooping the GM en route to facing Bruce.
Last year's game was a hard fought 28-21 strugg;e. This year
it was no contest as Bill Cleary was without his bowl of cereal.
Bruce took it to him 39-3! Bill couldn't get his offense together
and Bruce couldn't turn his off. As Bill elected not to play
in the second heat, he and his teammates were out a chance for
big team points.
The second round moved to 2 o'clock on Thursday giving new
meaning to the term day game. Several first timers played this
heat and were quickly chewed up by old-time Baltimore FBS league
members Jim Vroom, Stan Buck and Paul O'Neil. The old league
veterans were destined to claim 2nd thru 5th place in the event.
The final for this heat came down to Paul and Stan. Paul may
have been looking ahead to a rematch of the 1999 final with Bruce
as Stan took him behind the wood shed. Stan had only one more
obstacle on his way to FBS wood, but it was a BIG obstacle.
The final was a close affair. After a quarter of totally
ineffective offense Stan manage to put together a 60 yard touchdown
drive to take a 7-0 lead. Bruce was very worried, as his average
first down yardage was -2 yards with his ball control offense.
The very next series had Bruce with a fourth and 9 from his
own 11 yard line. Sensing Stan might be going for the kill (and
out of pure desperation) Bruce called the old Razzle-Dazzle.
Sure enough Stan was sitting on the 'B' defense and Bruce ran
the fake punt 89 yards for the touchdown and a tie game.
While Stan may have been disgusted, he wasn't done. He then
proceeded to march down the field on the next drive for a 14-7
lead. Bruce managed a bit of offense just before halftime and
kicked a field goal for a 14-10 halftime score.
The second half opened with more tough defense. Stan finally
managed to drive into field goal range and take a 17-10 lead.
Bruce, who by then was averaging -3 yards on first down with
his vaunted ball control, managed his only touchdown drive of
the game to tie the score at 17.
Bruce's D came up big on the next possession and took over
just past mid-field. Realizing that there were only 5 and a half
minutes left, he needed both to score and take time off the clock.
The key was on 4th and 3 with 2:45 left in the game when Bruce
opted not to kick the field goal from the 18 yard line and go
for the first down. He got exactly 3 yards to keep the drive
alive. He then moved the ball to the 8 where he settled for a
field goal to go up 20-17 with 1:00 remaining.
Stan wasn't done however. He took the kickoff and ran a couple
of plays to get to Bruce's 43 yard line. Just close enough to
try a desperation field goal. It wasn't to be as the 60 yard
attempt came up short and Bruce had his third FBS championship
in a row. However it was by far and away his toughest final
ever - and since this was to be Bruce's only wood of WBC 2001
- it may have been the best shot the conference has ever had
to stop the lumber harvest.