Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Potential of A11FL showcase game on Memorial Day weekend brings back past holiday memories

Happy New Year’s Eve! And while we are in the midst of one set of holidays, it’s never a bad idea to look ahead with anticipation to another holiday – especially when football may be involved.

There is the potential that one of the two 2014 A11 Football League showcase games will be played on Memorial Day weekend.

If that does in fact happen, it has the chance to join some of the best spring professional football games of decades past during that holiday weekend.

-          On May 29, 1983, the United States Football League’s Boston Breakers’ prayers were answered on the final play of the game when quarterback Johnnie Walton’s pass into the end zone was deflected, then caught by wide receiver Frank Lockett for a 21-17 home win over the Philadelphia Stars.

Also that day, New Jersey Generals rallied for 10 straight fourth-quarter points, capped by a 50-yard field goal by Dave Betz at the gun, to top the hapless Washington Federals, 32-29, at RFK Memorial Stadium. The Generals were ahead 17-6 in the second quarter, including an 83-yard touchdown run by rookie Herschel Walker, but the Federals rallied for 17 straight points. Walker ran 23 times for 194 yards and a score.

-          On Memorial Day weekend 1984, the Los Angeles Express (24-17 home win over the Arizona Wranglers), Denver Gold (27-20 road win vs. the San Antonio Gunslingers) and the Generals (21-17 road win vs. the Chicago Blitz) all won games by seven points or less – and all did so in the fourth quarter.

The Express needed a 2-yard touchdown run by rookie running back Kevin Nelson with 32 seconds left to get past the Wranglers. Denver got a 32-yard TD pass from quarterback Fred Mortensen to running back Dave Preston with 1:52 to go to top the ’Slingers. And New Jersey scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns – the last a 25-yard scoring pass from veteran QB Brian Sipe to tight end Jeff Spek with 6:11 to play – to beat Chicago.

-          Perhaps the wildest professional football game ever played on Memorial Day weekend came in 1985, when New Jersey punter/holder Rick Partridge picked up a dropped field goal snap and ran 9 yards for the winning touchdown in overtime at the Tampa Bay Bandits, 30-24. Walker ran 30 times for 166 yards and three touchdowns in that game.

      Also on that holiday weekend in the USFL, Portland Breakers veteran kicker Tim Mazzetti hit a 44-yard field goal at the final gun for a 17-14 home win over the Memphis Showboats – a game which featured six Breakers interceptions of Memphis quarterback Mike Kelley.

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