49-18 Albany. What else is there to say about the Columbus Destroyers final home game?
Well, I guess I could say a few other things about it.
The first is that I personally came in with high hopes. I knew the Destroyers were eliminated from playoff contention, but I thought defeating the top-ranked team of the season would be a good way to end their home games. I further thought they were capable of doing just that; in my opinion, they are a much better team than their record indicates. Those hopes began to deflate, though, before the first second of play. Columbus lost the coin toss, which in the AFL is a big deal as the winner is guaranteed a stop and a chance to score two unanswered touchdowns. Minutes later, they turned the ball over to Albany on their first drive. My hopes really began to deflate then.
The second is that Albany pulled off a pretty sweet onside kick after their second touchdown. I’m not sure why they went for it (guess they wanted to put Columbus away early), but they did and they got it. Kudos to them.
Third, Fabian Guerra, one of the Destroyers outstanding players, was disqualified from competition after a scuffle in the second quarter. He got caught “trading blows” with an Albany defensive player and both were subsequently ejected. Replay showed that the Albany player was the aggressor and that Guerra barely threw any punches of his own (or many even didn’t throw any period). The crowd loudly voiced their displeasure at the referees at that moment, and then again a few minutes later when the arena host asked the crowd to “make some noise for the refs”.
Fourth, Destroyers QB Grant Russell was removed from the game due to an injury in the second quarter. I’m not sure what caused the injury. He threw the ball away during a play, and I followed it with my eyes. When I looked back at him, he was on the ground holding his stomach. I was thinking “late hit”, a suspicion confirmed by the people sitting next to me, but there was no replay and no penalty was called. #4 Liam Nadler came in for the third game in a row to finish the first half and play all the second.
Fifth, the Destroyers never scored an extra point. They tried for 2 on their first touchdown with a trick play; Guerra served as ball holder, only to pick it up and run after it was hiked to him. I thought he got in, and so did the scorekeeper. For a moment, the board read “Destroyers – 8”. But that eight was soon changed back to six, and if there was an explanation, I missed it. They tried and failed a two-point conversion on their third and final touchdown as well, which is how they ended up with a score of 18.
There were a few other things to displease the Columbus faithful as well. There were trading turnovers in the first half; Columbus turned it over to Albany which immediately turned it back over to Columbus, but for some reason the Albany turnover was not considered a turnover and the ball was given back to Albany. There was what looked to be a Columbus touchdown on a fourth down play that was quickly ruled not to be a touchdown, giving the ball to Albany. There were a couple other questionable calls and shenanigans as well, all of which left the 9,275 fans in the stands with a fairly meaningless fourth quarter and me with fully deflated hopes.
And now the only hope for me and the Columbus faithful is the final road game and next year.