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Back-to-back champs

BY MITCH SMITH | NOVEMBER 04, 2009 7:20 AM

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Under the bright lights of the Bubble on Tuesday, the Show Stoppaz primed for a repeat performance of last season’s title victory.

This time, the squad faced Schax, the only team able to stop the show so far this season — handing the defending champions their only loss, 26-0.

But the Show Stoppaz members weren’t about to let Schax get the best of them again, and they defeated the team, 13-0 to repeat as women’s league flag-football champions.

“We knew they were going to be a tough team coming into the game,” Show Stoppaz senior quarterback Kendall Gifford said.

To say the title game was a defensive battle would be an understatement. It seemed as if neither team was going to find the end zone.

After 38 minutes of the 40-minute game, there were six punts and six interceptions.

It looked as if the championship showdown would be decided in overtime, but there was no extra play.

Show Stoppaz’s Katelyn McCunniff dropped a wide-open pass earlier in the game on fourth down that would have given her squad the lead.

But with only two and a half minutes to play in a scoreless game, Gifford connected with a leaping McCunniff for the go-ahead touchdown in a Ricky Stanzi to Marvin McNutt moment.

Fellow junior Caitlin Josten added another score in the late seconds of the game for Show Stoppaz.

After failing to move the ball in the first half, the defending champs turned to Gifford to keep the ball going down the field after halftime, running the quarterback draw at will.

The Show Stoppaz’s relentlessness on defense, combined with several penalties kept Schax from getting anything going on offense. Senior Erin Tuken led the Show Stoppaz pass rush, sporting face paint similar to that of William Wallace from the movie Braveheart.

The former DI Intramural Athlete of the Week recorded three sacks in the game and forced Schax quarterback Dana Schrader to get rid of the ball quickly.

“I’m proud of the way the defense played tonight,” Tuken said. “We were extremely tough.”

Josten, along with seniors Amy Carlson and Kelsey Jenn added an interception apiece. The strong performance in the secondary kept Schax from getting anywhere near the end zone.

The Show Stoppaz players were ecstatic after the game — each of the seven smiling brightly as they received their coveted intramural champion T-shirt.

“We’re just trying to emulate the Hawkeyes,” Carlson said. “We try to play just as tough as they do.”

But it could be the final flag-football game for the Show Stoppaz — four of the seven players on the team are seniors. The squad hopes to continue its tradition next year.

Some of the seniors said they may return next season because of graduate school, while the juniors said they would start hitting the recruiting trail.

“It was exciting to close out our senior year with a win,” Gifford said. “Hopefully, the juniors can continue on the tradition and repeat next year.”


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