Valdosta State captured its third consecutive men’s championship with a thrilling overtime win over USF this afternoon, following up its co-rec national championship victory over Mississippi State to start the day at the 2016 NIRSA Flag Football National Championships in Pensacola.
In an epic men’s national championship matchup, Valdosta State Nikes used a strong defensive effort in the 4th quarter and overtime to shut down a talented USF squad and prevail 27-21. USF The Company jumped out to an early 14-0 lead on a 45 yard run by Nick Gimbrone just 2 minutes into the game. After an interception by Roberto Rodriguez, quarterback Tyler Chacon hit Rodriguez on a 37-yard TD strike to put USF 14-0.
Valdosta State turned up the defensive pressure while keeping its offense rolling. Quarterback Lance Jarriel scored on a 12-yard keeper to cut the lead to 14-7, early in the 2nd quarter. The Nikes defense stopped USF in its own territory on 4th down to have a short field for the game-tying score. Three plays later, Jarriel found Justin Brown who pitched it back to Wes Carter for a 10-yard touchdown.
Tyler Chacon led USF on a touchdown drive in the final two minutes of the first half. Bryce Thompson, Chris McClutchy, Rodriguez and Gimbrone had receptions before Gimbrone scored from 10 yards out with 13 seconds remaining to put The Company up 21-14 at the break.
Valdosta tied the game on its opening drive of the third quarter when Jarriel found Justin Brown again, this time taking it in himself from 16 yards out.
The Valdosta State red zone defense was the story in the fourth quarter. USF began the quarter in the red zone, following a lengthy drive to close out the third period. A sack from TT Jackson on 4th and goal at the two ended the USF drive. The Nikes looked to mount a time-consuming go-ahead drive, but a Carlo Perello interception ended that plan and gave USF the ball with 3 minutes remaining. Chacon and The Company would drive once again inside the 20, but were stalled again, this time at the 15 yard line as the Valdosta State defense held strong with just seconds remaining to force overtime.
Valdosta won the toss and opted to play defense, putting its motivated squad back on the field for what would be yet another red zone denial including a key sack from LaDarius Dennison on 3rd down. After stopping USF on its possession, Valdosta took two plays, first an 8-yard scamper then a 2-yard quarterback keeper around the left side by Lance Jarriel to punch it into the endzone for the national championship winning score. The men’s title is Valdosta State’s third straight at the NIRSA Flag Football National Championships.
Jarriel was named the Tournament MVP and was joined by teammates Wes Carter and TT Jackson on the All-Tournament team. USF’s Tyler Chacon and Nick Gimbrone also earned All-Tournament honors.
You can watch the entire men’s national championship game online. It is archived for viewing at portal.stretchinternet.com/nirsa (click the On Demand tab, then Men’s Championship, and scroll ahead to 22:40 for the start of the coverage).
In the co-rec final to start the day, early turnovers by Mississippi State Foot Clan proved costly as Valdosta State’s P-Rex squad posted 12 quick points in the first half. Q Colvin picked off a Mississippi State pitch during a punt return and took it 25 yards for a score. Tripp Thompson added a 60-yard pick-6 to push the Valdosta lead to 12-0.
Tony Andrew would hit Jeffrey Pate for a 6-point, 48-yard touchdown reception for the Foot Clan with under 2:00 to play in the second quarter to narrow the lead to 12-6 at the break. The teams traded interceptions in the third quarter before Q Coleman hauled in a TD pass early in the fourth and with the extra point Valdosta State held a 19-6 advantage. That lead would hold up to earn Valdosta State the co-rec national title.
Jarriel was named one of the two MVPs of the co-rec division alongside Mississippi State’s Kymesha Andrew. Courtney Carter, Tripp Thompson, and Tara Dambach would join Jarriel on the All-Tournament team for P-Rex. Husband Tony Andrew joined his wife Kymesha on the All-Tournament squad for Foot Clan.