COLUMBIA, SC – The match up between the #2 seed Jacksonville and #3 Denver is a meeting that has been contentious in the past year. Last Playoff season, the seeds were switched and Jacksonville upset Denver by 30 points for a spot in the 1st place game. While earlier this year, Denver beat Jacksonville at Sibling Rivalry by a slimmer 14 points. New Jax City started out this game strong, but a couple of big jams by Denver erased Jacksonville’s lead and the Mile High Club had buried them by 70 points at the half, it seemed.
Jacksonville’s chaotic pack work let Denver’s jammers slip through, and despite a post-break comeback attempt in the second half, Jacksonville couldn’t put up enough big points to overcome their deficit. Denver secured the win, a place in the 1st place game tomorrow against Rose City, and a ticket to Champs in November. While Jacksonville will have to take on Atlanta tomorrow for the 3rd spot to Portland.
Jacksonville came to Columbia without Erin Jackson, who had personally put up 472 points over seven games during their regular season. But despite those impressive additions, Jamsterella was actually their lead scorer this year. With Snot Rocket Science transferring in this season, and Krispy Kreme-Her filling out their three-jammer rotation, they were still left with a strong lineup.
Denver utilized four jammers however; Wilhelm, Gypin (Phantom Menace), Curtis (Abeata Applebum), and Klein (Sharon Tacos), and the slightly deeper rotation may have helped their jamming endure through the fast, physical game.
Right away, in the first jam, Wilhelm earned a track cut penalty and since Jamsterella had already picked up a quick lead, she was able to earn 10 points for Jacksonville. The team held Denver scoreless through one round of their jammer rotation while they reached 22 points five minutes into the game. Blockers had been picking up penalties on both sides, and with a short Jacksonville pack Wilhelm got a quick lead status for Denver and she proceeded onto multiple grand slams while her blockers had the pack stretched out and simultaneously containing Krispy Kreme-Her. Even after a star pass to Legs R Us, Jacksonville struggled to get her out, and while they had a split focus between offense and defense Wilhelm erased their lead with a 32-point jam.
Denver dedicated a blocker to offense from the start of nearly every jam, often times that person was Akers, and this tactic aided them in two more lead status calls. Their streak ended with a back block on Gypin as she tried to slip into the pack and call the jam off, and by the end of two minutes Jacksonville won the jam 19-15, but Denver still lead the game by 10 points, 51-41.
Denver gave up another power jam when Wilhelm got knocked around in the pack and Atomic Mel-Down forced her into a track cut. Her penalty lasted into the next jam, giving Jacksonville a power start as they closed their deficit to three points.
Both teams focused on a strong braced triangle defensive formation, Jacksonville often because they were down a blocker and Denver because they offered their 4th for offense. Again, Akers found herself in the middle of Jacksonville blockers, trying to open a pathway up for Klein. While Snot Rocket Science meticulously worked on the Denver wall, Jacksonville ran Klein back to the jammer line and Snot slid around the Denver tripod to escape the pack. Her four points addition put Jacksonville ahead by one single point, 53-52.
In the next jam, however, Gypin again took advantage of the smallest crack on the inside line to get lead status, and her two point put Denver back on top by one point.
It seemed like the game would continue this way with both teams locking onto jammers with effective recycling and finding opportune moments to play offense. After Denver gave up one more power jam and five points to Jacksonville, the game completely changed.
Jacksonville took a team timeout with about ten minutes left in the first half, and Curtis came back from the box and exploded out of the pack with lead status for Denver. While Snot was held up in the pack, and with another distracted Jacksonville pack, Denver again erased Jackonville’s lead with 33 points by Curtis this time. Jacksonville got only two more points, but then was held static at 62 for the rest of the first half and into the second.
Jacksonville had moments of strong blocking, especially in braced pairs, but continued to look a bit frantic on the track and got split up easily by Denver. With a 14-point jam by Gypin at the end of the half, Denver led 142-62.
In the second half, Jacksonville kept Denver from putting up any huge jams again, but unable to duplicate big points themselves, they couldn’t cut down on Denver’s large lead. With 12 minutes left in the half Jacksonville had reached 100 points, but Denver led with 174.
Jacksonville did pick up a victory during the game, however, by winning an official review and putting Denver jammer Gypin in the box with a direction of play penalty, earning themselves a powerjam. Jamsterella added six points as a result and the game entered the final ten minutes.
Lead status was split almost evenly between the teams, but Jacksonville actually ended the game at 54.8% lead average. They were able to go on a 48-4 scoring run late in the game and then took a timeout with 6:38 left on the clock. Denver’s early hold on the game however, combined with strong, slow defense, kept Jacksonville from picking up any game changing momentum. Denver took the game in the end 211-153, overturning seeding, and will take on Rose City tomorrow in the final game.