By Larry Snyder
Pittsburgh, Pa. – Exiting the third quarter tied at 16, the Pittsburgh Thunderbirds (1-4) took command Saturday, July 3, with a 7-4 run in the fourth to down Atlantic Division rival, the Philadelphia Phoenix (2-3) 23-20 at J.C. Stone Field in North Park.
For the Black and Gold followers, the victory was not only the first of the season in the American Ultimate Disc League; it was the first in three all-time contests against Philadelphia. This Keystone State triumph means the Commonwealth Cup will stay in the Steel City until the 2022 campaign. The Phoenix are 0-3 on the road this season.
Jimmy Towle contributed three goals, four assists, 169 throwing yards, and 240 receiving yards to the Thunderbirds’ score sheet. He commented to Evan Lepler on the AUDL website, “Celebrating with the trophy was the cherry on top! We joked about how we got the sweet end of the deal with the Commonwealth Cup. They had it for two weeks, we get it for a year. It feels like the first time I’ve really seen this team play how it should, and I’m very excited to keep battling. We have a tough schedule looking forward, but our guys are ready to step up.”
Per The AUDL YouTube Channel – Philadelphia Phoenix At Pittsburgh Thunderbirds – Week 5 Game Highlights…
HOW IT CAME ABOUT
Four of the seven goals assembled by the T-birds came off turnovers by the Phoenix, including two quick scoring drives from blocks by Myles Cooper for the second point and Steve Mogielski for the fifth. Cooper, with one goal and two blocks, was named the Player of the Game. Owen Watt joined Cooper and Mogielski with two blocks apiece.
Thunderbirds’ head coach Pat Hammonds spoke with Evan Lepler on the league web page about the final 12 minutes. “I challenged both D-lines to trust their marks and start clamping down. We had to put the hammer down and we opened the fourth quarter with massive breaks from both lines. They responded.”
The Black and Gold had a season-low 11 turnovers while Philadelphia tallied 15 in the box score. In their previous clash Saturday, June 19, in the City of Brotherly Love, the Thunderbirds owned 29 turnovers to 20 for the Phoenix. The Scarlet, Vermilion, and White closed the evening with a 27-18 win.
Andrew Gardner, general manager of the T-birds, added two former members of the Raleigh Flyers to the roster before this meeting with Philadelphia. Sam Gabrielson and Clint McSherry hooked up after the Mogielski block to get the disc to the right side of the end zone. Gabrielson picked up the disc and sent a 14-yard swing pass across the field to McSherry. He fired it 25 yards into Mogielski’s hands for the score. A quick two-play drive allowed the five-year veteran Mogielski to achieve the block to goal bookend.
During the seven-point escalation, Thomas Edmonds connected twice with Max Sheppard on the first and third scores. The opening goal of the fourth was a 70-yard huck from Edmonds to Sheppard at 11:33 to cap a six-play drive. Next, it was a 30-yard toss to wrap up an eight-play push at 6:56 to build a 19-17 lead.
Sam VanDusen assembled his own T-birds’ highlight reel with one goal, four assists, one block, 330 throwing yards, and 187 receiving yards.
Back To The AUDL YouTube Channel – Sam VanDusen Highlights Vs. Philly…
NEXT UP: The Thunderbirds have their final home game this month, Saturday, July 17, against the Raleigh Flyers (4-2). These two Atlantic Division foes come together for the first pull at 1:30 p.m.