An in depth play-by-play account of the Hustle's 1st ever playoff win.
Atlanta traveled to Raleigh, an opponent they know well, for the 3rd time this season. These two cities have battled for the better part of 30 years. Raleigh the higher seed was hosting at Cardinal Gibbons Stadium for a 7pm Saturday tilt.
Heavy rain and lightning again forced the teams to reschedule. With no option to come back they were forced to play on Sunday afternoon.
It was a hot and sunny day with a light cross wind blowing towards the camera
The first point of this game was noteworthy for an encouraging reason. Despite the drama surrounding the South division in the previous week and the inherent tension that comes with a playoff atmosphere, the Raleigh Flyers showed their commitment to sportsmanship by invoking the integrity rule to correct a missed strip call. The Raleigh and Atlanta players discussed the play quickly and changed what would have been a big break opportunity for Raleigh into a 10 yard penalty for Atlanta. Nathan Vickroy hauled in the 1st score for Atlanta.
Raleigh answered with a measured and effective attack of their own. On the second ATL possession there was the first turn of the game as Atlanta committed an unforced error in the red zone.
Raleigh overshot a deep look on their break chance and Atlanta went back to the cupboard, finding Max Leonard again in the red zone, this time for the hold.
On the following D point Atlanta had excellent coverage that forced Raleigh into an awkward throw. Atlanta floated an away pass that was swatted away by the Flyers. They worked it back upfield for the score against the transitioning Atlanta defense. 2-2
Both offenses made their initial adjustments and settled into some nice flow. 3-3
Many decisive plays in this game came when a thrower was forced, by good defense, to make an accurate throw under pressure. Here Matt Smith hits Nathan Vickroy through a small window and then jets down field. Vick dishes and follows Smith. Dylan Tunnell sends the offense's first away pass to Smith who pulls it down on the doorstep and flips it to the trailing Vickroy for the score.
On the following pull the Atlanta D forces a Raleigh throw wide. The Flyers try a "greatest" but ATL corrals it and starts a fastbreak. Textbook Dump - Swing - Score in the redzone for the game's first break. 5-3 ATL.
Feeling some momentum shifting towards Atlanta, Raleigh commits an unforced error by sending up an unmarked huck without a receiver cutting deep.
Kyle Stapleton attacks deep to Sean Sears who makes a sensational trailing edge layout catch for back-to-back breaks. 6-3 ATL.
Raleigh would gather their composure on the next point to score on a Hunter Taylor hammer.
The Atlanta offense stayed disciplined and committed to their gameplan: working the disc underneath and sideline to sideline while also looking to get their handlers the disc going upline. They were rewarded with some high percentage deep looks. 7-4 ATL
The Hustle D got another chance off of a Raleigh misfire but gave it right back on a floating swing pass. Raleigh patiently converted their second chance to get back within 2 with only seconds left. The Hustle did not threaten on their buzzer beater attempt. That Raleigh hold was crucial to keep pace as they were receiving in the next quarter.
The Flyers O scored dramatically on their first attempt to close the gap to 1. Rushing off of a fastbreak they sent up a floater that was ripped out of traffic by Jack Williams. It felt like the Hustle were outplaying the Flyers to this point and should be up by more.
The Atlanta offense went back to work, showing a dedication to possession offense. A miscommunication between thrower and dump gave Raleigh the disc. They called timeout to put in their Oline for a break chance that would tie the game.
Atlanta's D1 hung tight forcing the disc laterally before Kelvin Williams came up with the run through block.
Sam Little picked up the disc and got it back on the sideline before sending it downfield to Anders Olsen. Atlanta hold 8-6.
The Flyers offense continued to score in unconventional ways. The Hustle D did not let this frustrate them, instead taking it as a sign of good defensive play.
Atlanta countered with some good ol' boring offense, to the delight of their coaching staff. 9-7
Again the Flyers relied on their athleticism to keep pace. Justin Allen goes to the top floor to bring down this swing. Raleigh would score in the redzone a few passes later.
The Raleigh dump coverage was tight all game, making Atlanta exert maximum effort to reset the disc, but the Atlanta handlers were up to the challenge. 10-8
Raleigh did a good job of exploiting matchups when the Atlanta D was trying to transition to 1on1. 10-9
The Raleigh dump defenders got a deserved win with this sick full extension interception by Josh Hartzog close to their own goalline. They converted the break a pass later to tie the game 10-10.
Max Leonard makes a possession saving grab on an errant pass. He then dishes and heads down field to grab a goal in the red zone where he has been so effective all season.
The Flyers offense worked it up the field and scored from the red zone to tie the game again at 11s.
With the teams battling back and forth, the next play could break the game open. Here Hunter Taylor bids hard but Sam Gainer seals him out with his body to make the catch.
A few passes later the Hustle would give up the disc on an ill advised deep shot. After a timeout for substitutions the two teams would battle hard for yardage. Eventually the Raleigh offense was able to strike up the field on the near sideline. From their they launched a hammer up and over to the opposite third for a break, taking the lead 12-11.
The Atlanta offense handled a roller pull and ensuing sideline double team well. They converted a hold nicely from the red zone to tie the game with 1:12 left in the half.
The Flyers took advantage of a pair of atlanta fouls and scored on a short field with nearly 7s left. 13-12 Raleigh
Atlanta advanced the disc quickly up field and burned a timeout. They switched Dylan Tunnell in for the thrower after the timeout with a couple of seconds left. His defender affected the dump pass as it fell to the turf. The Atlanta sideline held its breath as Raleigh launched a hail mary into the goal. Max Leonard busted it deep to get position first with Tunnell trailing and Atlanta was able to escape to halftime down 1, thankful it wasn't 2. Leonard did take a shot for his efforts but was able to play on in the 2nd half.
After 3 holds to start the half Atlanta registered the first break to regain the lead. After the turn they relentlessly worked their handlers on give-and-goes into the red zone, scoring from a few yards out. 15-14
On the next point Raleigh turfed a swing pass. Taylor Goforth reversed field into the red zone with a high backhand before coach Swanson burned an early TO. Sensing the need to capture control in a back and forth game he wanted his offense on the field to convert the break chance. Matt Smith emphatically shook the uber athletic Terrence Mitchell in isolation and scored one pass later. 16-14 Atl
The Hustle D took the field again hungry for more. Raleigh struck with a big Nethercutt hammer but Atlanta did a nice job of reacting and stopping the flow. Mark Poole forced a red zone turn on a hanging backhand. A couple of passes later he sent an unsuccessful disc downfield to Ryan Archibald. Raleigh winning the challenge for another floater and dished it in for a shaky hold. 16-15
The Flyers D clamped down tight on the next point generating an Atlanta turnover. They fired a blade into the goal but it was blocked by Sam Gainer. They returned the favor on Gainer with a foot block that Austin Taylor almost caught between his legs. Raleigh sticking with their aggressive style shot a hammer just over Tunnell's fingertips that their receiver scooped up before it touched down on turf. Break Raleigh, 16-16.
Coach Swanson put O2 on the line for the next pull. Cool as a cucumber they worked it right down the field to the goal line where Anders Olsen finds JP Burns wide open with a bladely hammer. They made that critical hold look a lot easier than it should have been. A big boost for the sidelines.
Largely the same lineup then pulled to the Flyers. Feeling some momentum from the previous point they locked down their assignments and forced a stall. Having already burned one timeout in the 3rd Quarter and with this line's success on the previous point Coach Swanson left them in to finish it. Unfortunately they could not connect on a scoring look. Atlanta looked to have the disc back again but a soft foul call on #99 Evan Boecking retained possession for Raleigh. The Flyers are too good to give that many opportunities. They punch it in to keep pace at 17s. This was one of several chances the Hustle had to seize control of the game that Raleigh denied.
On the next Hustle possession they took a shot to an isolated Anders Olsen but the throw was off the intended target and fell to the turf. Raleigh had to go 80 yards in under a minute.
This is where things got wild. At midfield with about 33s left JD Hastings put it out in space to David Richardson. Possibly too aware of the approaching back line he dropped the disc. Atlanta picks up the disc, only needing to maintain possession until the clock expired. A pass to an open cutter sails high and wide, stopping the clock with 12s. Ryan Sitler tapped it in at the 25 yd line and sent a crisp forehand to the far third for the break. 18-17 Ral. The Hustle's buzzer beater attempt fell incomplete and short of the goal.
Raleigh up 1 receiving the disc with a chance to stretch it to 2. The Flyers take a possession minded approach to work the disc up the field until Nethercutt can find Mitchell with a lefty backhand on the goal line. 19-17 Raleigh, 11 minutes to go.
Atlanta made some substitutions to their O line at this point and it paid off immediately. Dylan Tunnell finds Anders Olsen on the 1st pass with an 75 yd flick.
Raleigh scores again with this Nethercutt laser over a bidding Mark Poole
Both teams exchanged heavyweight blows until 22-21 Raleigh. Here Dylan Tunnell pushed down field and makes a great diving catch on a pass from Elliott Erickson. Jon Nethercutt answers with a bomb to Terrence MItchell.
The Atlanta D finally broke the streak when Anders Olsen's great mark and Elliott Erickson's dump D forces Justin Allen to throw it away. Those two seemed to make big play after big play down the home stretch for the Hustle. Mark Poole makes a great diving catch to save a scoober from Nathan Vickroy. The veteran leader then directs the disc back toward the break side where it is continued up field before going over Sam Little in the goal.
Credit to that line for not being deflated by the turnover at a critical moment. They matched up quickly and held Raleigh deep on their own half. They were rewarded by an inaccurate pass that couldn't be saved by a diving Nethercutt. Picking up quickly and confidently taking easy advances for short yardage while Raleigh was transitioning they found the break they were clawing for all quarter. Tied at 22s.
On the next pull Nethercutt stumbled and fell over when pivoting upfield. The Raleigh referee crew huddled to confer and determined it was a thrower's travel resulting in a turn over. He had already caught the disc with both feet stationary before pivoting up field and falling down. Highly controversial in the moment, but the crew did an excellent job of huddling to discuss the call given how critical it would be to the game.
Atlanta looked to score on the very first throw but Robert Runner was ruled short of the goal line. A few passes later Atlanta would overshoot Sun Choi to give the disc back to the Flyers.
Raleigh found star Justin Allen on the 1st in cut only to have him lose his grip and drop the disc. Sun Choi picked up the disc and it was deflected to the ground but ruled a foul. Coach Swanson decided to burn his final timeout to put in his offensive unit. Dylan Tunnell calmly flipped a backhand to Anders to convert a wild break point. 23-22 Atlanta .
The Hustle D went onto the line for the third consecutive pull with 4:25 remaining.
Mark Poole flashed off his man into the lane as Mitchell was looking for Ben Dieter. His bid did enough to generate a turnover for the Hustle. The Sam Little / Evan Boecking engine started upfield again continuing to do a lot of the lifting for the Atlanta DO. Anders Olsen caught another goal for the 3rd straight Hustle break. 24-22.
Raleigh had to be feeling every tick of the clock at this point. Looking to score quickly they sent a backhand huck up but Elliott Erickson turned on his after burners to get to the spot first and knock it away.
Erickson gave it back on an aggressive look deep the other way. The Raleigh O would have to go 80 yards again.
Hunter Taylor looking to score quickly hucked it deep immediately to Jack Williams. The taller Williams went over the leaping Erickson for the catch.
Nethercutt eventually found Mitchell for the score, 24-23 with 1:40 remaining.
The Atlanta offense received looking to burn some clock and regain the 2 point lead. They possessed the disc well for several passes until Dylan Tunnell began to cramp. He had to take an injury substitution. The Hustle continued the disc downfield to Sam Gainer in the red zone.
Without an easy reset option and good downfield defense from the Flyers the stall count mounted. Matt Smith snuck away from his defender at the exact right moment for Gainer to beat the stall. Smith caught the pass for a decisive score. 25-23
- Nathan Vickroy +7, 3A 4G
- Ander Olsen +6 5G 2A
- Dylan Tunnell +5, 5A, 51 completions
- Vickroy, Little, and Gainer with 3A
- Max Leonard with 42 completions, 2A, 4G
- Austin Taylor 2A 2G 35 completions
- Matt Smith 2G 1G 35 completions
- Mark Poole 3 Blocks
- Elliott Erickson 2 Blk 1A 1G
- Evan Boecking 22 completions 1 blk 1A 25 pts played
- Kelvin Williams 2 blk
- Trenton Spink 26 points played