By Larry Snyder
St. Petersburg, Florida – The Pittsburgh Thunderbirds assembled a 5-3 run in the third quarter to tie the contest 11-11 Saturday, June 12, but the Tampa Bay Bandits replied with a 7-4 comeback in the fourth to claim an 18-15 victory at the 31st Street Complex.
Head Coach Pat Hammonds spoke to the camera coming out from halftime. He closed out his remarks with “taking a second-half run.” Here is the full clip from Twitter.
Pittsburgh came through on Hammonds’ comments by adding points on four consecutive possessions in the third frame. Three of the four scores resulted from Tampa turnovers.
Owen Watt claimed one of his two assists and one of his three goals over the surge near the end of the quarter. He got the assault of the score sheet started from a 60-yard pull by Tampa’s Stephen Poulos. The T-birds worked the disc down the field on a decisive five-play drive, concluding at 3:55 with a 43-yard end zone pass from Watt to Jimmy Towle.
After an 18-yard throwaway from the Cannons’ Ryan Chard, the Thunderbirds gathered their second straight point on a quick three-play drive. Max Sheppard collected one of his five assists at 2:24 when he launched a 50-yard scoring strike to Watt.
Tampa returned the disc on an 18-yard dropped pass from Bradley Seuntjens to Bobby Ley. Sam VanDusen began the seven-play push upfield with a 13-yard pass to Chris Graber. An 11-yard swing pass across the field from Anson Reppermund to Pat McMullen, and McMullen tossing a 24-yard scoring lob back to Reppermund, finished the drive.
The fourth point came when the Cannons’ Ryan Chard received a stall-out call which gave the disc back to the Black and Gold. The T-birds needed just two plays to tie the game at 11 apiece – Kevin O’Brien directing the disc 43 yards to Steve Mogielski with 48 seconds on the clock. Despite struggles in the fourth, fans had a glimmer of what Thunderbirds rising could be for the remainder of this season.
GAME NOTES: Watt brought 198-yards receiving and 124-yards throwing to the box score for a combined 323 total. Sheppard reached 300 with 308 on 139 receiving and 169 passing. Reppermund led the T-birds defense with four blocks.
First-year players Connor Newell and Harry Mcnamara joined veteran Kenny Furdella with 100 percent completion rates against the Cannons.
Andrew Roney of Tampa owned a phenomenal stat line with nine assists and 619 throwing yards to go along with a goal and a pair of blocks. He reminded everyone why he was an All-Star Game participant in 2019.
Firepower for the Cannons’ offense came from Chard, who led head coach Andrew Roca’s crew with six goals and 289 receiving yards. Billy O’Bryan contributed three blocks and a 100 percent completion rate.
Next Up: The T-birds return to defend JC Stone Field Friday, June 18, when they face the 2019 American Ultimate Disc League champions, New York Empire (1-0). The confrontation begins at 7:00 p.m. EDT.