The Lehigh Valley Steelhawks and the Chicago Slaughter combined for two of the longest and most exciting games of the season. Their final two games of the season in Week 10 and Week 16 tie for the second best games of the 2012 IFL season.
The Steelhawks came into the Week 10 game winners of three of their last four games. However, during their bye week QB Bryan Randall left to join the AFL and the Steelhawks were forced to turn to inexperienced QB Dale Fink vs. the Slaughter. Chicago was coming off an upset victory over the Green Bay Blizzard after starting the season 1-6.
In the first quarter the two teams matched each other point for point. Lehigh Valley was able to take a 23-17 lead into halftime however as WR Irani DeAraujo caught a 4-yard pass from QB Dale Fink with just two seconds left in the first half. In the third quarter the two teams, again, matched each other point for point. With 35 seconds left in the fourth quarter Slaughter QB Perry Patterson tied the game at 37 as he found WR Shatone Powers in the endzone, eventually sending the game into overtime.
In overtime Chicago got the ball first and started at the twenty. Three plays later RB Lucian Walker scampered into the endzone to give Chicago the lead. Lehigh Valley responded in just one play as Dale Fink carried 20 yards for a TD and so began a second overtime. In the second OT, Fink hit WR DeAraujo to give Lehigh Valley the lead again. Chicago was not losing without a fight however as six plays later they tied the score again.
After getting a Chicago Interception, Lehigh Valley needed just a field goal to win, when disaster struck. QB Dale Fink’s pass into the endzone was intercepted, sending the game into a fourth OT. On the next Steelhawks drive, QB Fink made another critical error. His errant pass was again intercepted. Chicago ,weary from a game that had lasted near four hours, attempted four runs in a row to set K Chris Nendick up for an 18 yard field goal. Nendick made the kick giving the Slaughter the victory, so ending one of the longest games in IFL history.
Can't Miss Play: Slaughter DB Christopher Rogers’s interception of Steelhawk QB Dale Fink in the endzone in the fourth overtime.
Why this game is No. 2: The longest game of 2012 featured back and forth play all game long. Each team matched each other score for score through almost four hours of play.
Five week later the two teams met again and stage had been set and the playoffs were on the line. Win and stay in the playoff hunt; lose and be eliminated.
Chicago got on the board first with a 17-yard field goal however on the ensuing kickoff Steelhawks KR Jesse Cooper returned his third kickoff for a TD in as many games to give the Steelhawks an early 7-3 lead. The two teams would then match each other point-for-point as they went into halftime. At the half the score was tied at 30.
The second half featured strong defense. Lehigh Valley scored just ten points in the third quarter while Chicago just added a TD pass from Patterson to WR Josh Nettles. Chicago was able to tie the game up in the fourth quarter as Chris Nendick hit a 47-yard field goal with 3:48 remaining in the game.
The Steelhawks attempted to drive down the field, lead by new QB Chris Malleo, only to see their potentially game-winning field goal fall incomplete. With 1:16 left in the game, Chicago drove all the way to the Steelhawks 13 yard line and set the hero of the last Steelhawk/Slaughter game up for another potentially game-winning field goal. Nedick’s kick from 28 yard fell incomplete, sending the game into overtime.
In overtime Steelhawks RB Ryan Leafey plowed into the endzone to give the Steelhawks the lead. However the PAT was blocked a Slaughter DL Jon Kowalyshen crashed through and got his hand on the ball. Chicago needed just one play to score as QB Juice Williams found WR Shatone Powers. All Chicago had to do was make the PAT and they would beat Lehigh Valley. Kicker Chris Nendick trotted out, lined up and, to the surprise of many, missed the extra point.
In the second overtime, Slaughter RB Daniel Dufrene quickly scored a TD and with a successful PAT attempt the Slaughter took a 53-46 lead. Not to be outmatched Malleo marched the Steelhawks down once again and found DB John Kennedy III for the tying touchdown.
To avoid a four overtime situation like the last time the two teams played Lehigh Valley Head Coach Chris Thompson kept his players on the field for a gutsy two point conversion play. A pass play was called and as Malleo scrambled right he found his favorite target in WR Irani DeAraujo in the back of the endzone. The conversion gave the Steelhawks a thrilling 54-53 victory and a path into the playoffs.
Can’t Miss Plays: Steelhawk QB Chris Malleo’s successful two-point conversion play to Irani DeAraujo to give the Steelhawks a 54-53 victory in the second overtime
Why this game is No. 2: The two teams followed up the longest game of the year with another exciting ending in an overtime game with a very dramatic ending.