by Paul Pate
Clarksville, Tennessee on a fall Saturday morning, I was sleeping off a Nashville Friday night in the guest bedroom at the Fisher mansion. Breakfast was to be served at 7:30 AM., pancakes and sausage. My phone buzzed at 6:30 AM! It was a text from Bubba that said, “Where ya’ll at?” Bubba and Tago made the 3 hour drive that originated in the Eastern Time Zone. This was Central, yo!
No matter, breakfast was eventually served and it was classic. There were ten or fifteen Electric Football enthusiasts there for the second gameday of the 2019 Ohio Valley Electric Football League season. The setting was a perfect picture of a childhood dream. There were NFL themed picnic tents spread out on the backyard concrete drive with an Electric Football board under each one. The Cowboys tent was right by the Steelers tent in anticipation of my Cowboys taking on Tago’s Steelers. The fence was lined with NFL flags from every franchise. The Tennessee air got a little warm, but that was okay. Between games coaches could head indoors to cool off in Skybox Stadium, a man cave for the ages. Multiple college football games were on and food was ready to be devoured.
After breakfast there was a nice ceremony to pay respects to a great Electric Football coach who had recently passed away. During that ceremony a personalized board was given to a sweetheart of a man, a 72 year old military veteran who loves football. It was quite a special moment. Once it concluded, everybody was just itchin’ to crack some plastic!
My Cowboys were able to squeak out a 3 to 0 win in their first game. I’m glad, because the next two were pretty resounding defeats to the dreaded Steelers and the dreaded Giants. As the day proceeded, a young coach named Phillip “Midwest” Ryan showed up with his Oklahoma Sooners. He’s young, as far as Electric Football coaches go, and fairly new to the hobby. This was his first OVEFL gameday and he took a beating his first two games. It was getting late and our two lackluster squads were getting set to square off for what would be… Just Another Electric Football Game.
The Sooners started things off with the ball on their own 25. The Cowboys were stingy on defense and soon it was fourth down. Midwest declared Electric Football was fun because you could go for it on fourth down on your first series. Well, you can in real football too. But, who does that? Midwest does! A quick Kyler Murray scramble and the Sooners converted. Their luck ran out on the next 3 downs as they lost yardage and coach was convinced to punt. The Cowboys took over on their own 32. They methodically moved the ball down the field with a steady dose of Tony Dorsett off tackle, Tony Dorsett on the screen, Tony Dorsett up the middle. Once in the red zone, the Cowboys offense sputtered. It was 4th and 5 from the 15. Instead of playing it safe with a field goal, I decided to go for it. A quick out to Drew Pearson put it on the five yard line with time running out in the first half. My Cowboys smelled pay dirt!
The offense lined up. The Sooner defense was in place. The board buzzed and Roger Staubach rolled left as Tony Hill shook his cornerback. As the buzzing stopped Tony Hill was about at the one yard line and the cornerback was at the five. It was good coverage, but I thought I could complete the pass. A 7 point lead at the half gave me a good feeling. I launched my errant pass and it bounced off the defender. Oh my! Intercepted. Tony Hill, with his good speed, was right behind the Sooner cornerback. When the board turned on this guy pulled away from Hill no problem. He streaked down the sideline as Tony Dorsett and Robert Newhouse missed too. My 7 point halftime lead was suddenly looking like a 7 point deficit. This guy was headed for a pick six!!!
It was a classic Electric Football play. Without reason, inexplicably, the Oklahoma Sooner cornerback who just picked off Roger Staubach and had nothing but 15 yards of perfectly groomed, vibrating, green metal, between him and glory, suddenly lurched to his right and out of bounds! I had to admit to Phillip, I was kinda pulling for him to make it. Though I was relieved to be deadlocked at zero for halftime, it was slightly disappointing to watch Midwest’s excitement fade to emptiness. Whew!! It was halftime, it was hot and muggy, and I was tired.
The Cowboys started with the ball in the second half. What I didn’t realize, is that the young coach Phillip had made adjustments to his defense during the first half that had eventually disrupted the Cowboys offense. The second half started with three and out. The Sooners had the ball on their own 35 with plenty of time. Coach made some second half adjustments to his offense too! It took two fourth down conversions, but the Sooner offense drove the length of the field and capped the drive with a Kyler Murray touchdown run up the middle. The sun was going down. Misquitos were starting to bite. There were only a few minutes left in the game and my confidence in this offense was waning.
To drive 75 yards in three or four plays I was going to need to complete a pass downfield at least once. That’s what I did! Right outta the gate Tony Hill was open. Staubach hit him in the numbers with a clear path to the endzone. That same cornerback ran him down and kept it to a 25 yard gain. Only 50 to go! A Dorsett run and a short pass to Drew Pearson put the Cowboys at the 15 as the clock was ticking down. I got my offensive line down before the clock ran out, allowing the Cowboys one more play. One more shot to tie this game up or maybe win it with a two point conversion.
The Cowboys lined up with their typical formation, Staubach in the shotgun, Dorsett and Newhouse in the backfield. Billy Joe DuPree was the tight end on the right side, Hill split left, Pearson flanker right. Phillip scrambled to get his defense into place. They played what I would call a 3-6. Three defensive linemen crowded the middle, leaving the tackles open. But six speedy linebackers that quickly filled the gaps. The last thing I did before I called my offense set, was turn Dorsett to the outside. Phillip quickly got his defense into place as I counted down from ten. His final move was to bring in a stationary safety for the guy who normally covered his deep middle. But he placed this defender over to the left so he might cover Dorsett out of the backfield. We were all set and it was the moment of truth!
I hadn’t called this play the whole game. So, I figured now would be the time. Dorsett, off the break, to the outside. The Sooner defense was in a slightly less aggressive posture. I thought Dorsett may be able to punch it in without any defensive adjustments. Plus, that stationary safety was over there putting down roots. I was gonna go for it! “Thirty three, Dorsett, off the break.” I handed Midwest the switch and he cut the board on! Dorsett, sho nuff, got around the edge. TD was headed for a TD! Just had to get around Pearson who was blocking the corner. I don’t know exactly what happened next. I think DuPree pushed a linebacker into that stationary safety. All I know is that safety snagged Dorsett by a shoe string and stopped him at the five. Game over!
My Cowboys ended the day with one win and three losses. The Sooners were one and two. But, that 7-0 game? What a game!!! You know what though? It was Just Another Electric Football Game.
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