The Spring League’s south division games kicked off with a rematch between the Sea Lions, and Generals. Coming into week five, the Generals were 2-2 and looking to get a crucial win, while the Sea Lions were eliminated from championship contention at 1-3.
In week two when these teams played, it was actually the Sea Lions who won, as their only victory of the season came against Mallett’s Generals. The Sea Lions are coming off a tough loss at the hands of the Blues, who beat them 19-10 last week.
On the other hand, the Generals have been quite inconsistent. After rolling over the Blues in week three, they were dominated by the Jousters last week, which now puts the south division #1 seed somewhat out of reach.
With so much on the line for the Generals, it was bound to be an intense matchup today, and it certainly was.
Things got off to a blazing start, as Darnell Holland took the opening kickoff 88 yards to the house, putting the Generals on top 7-0 early.
GAME DAY ALERT: The #TSLGenerals return the kickoff to start the game with Darnell Holland taking it all the way down the field.
Unfortunately for the Sea Lions, it was the opposite for them. The Generals quickly snuffed out their opening drive, as they had to punt after a three and out.
On their “first” drive of the day, the Generals did an phenomenal job of slowly marching down the field, taking up time and scoring. Ryan Mallett found Siaosi Mariner for a 5 yard TD, and the Generals went up 13-0.
Despite a great return from Kavonte Turpin, the Sea Lions had to punt the ball away – but in a turn of events, the punt was muffed, and the Sea Lions recovered it, setting them up inside the 5 yard line to end the quarter.
The Sea Lions offensive struggles continued, as they couldn’t move the ball forward at all, which forced them to have to settle for three after the excellent field position.
Once again, the Generals efficiently marched the ball down the field, but had to settle for three, which gave them a 16-3 lead.
Ben Holmes replaced DeAndre Johnson for the Sea Lions, and it was a smart QB swap. Holmes immediately came out looking confident, moving the football effectively. Aca’Cedric Ware took it in from 4 yards out, and it was 16-9 just like that.
Ben Holmes was 7/8 for 81 yards on the drive, which is exactly what the Sea Lions needed to jump start an offense that was dead in the water.
GAME DAY ALERT: With Ben Holmes now in at QB for the #TSLSeaLions, he hands it off to Aca'cedric Ware for the TD!
The Generals were able to push the ball down into Sea Lions territory, but were held to a field goal. Lirim Hajrullahu hit his second FG attempt of the day, giving the Generals a 19-9 lead going into halftime.
Holmes missed a couple of throws to start the second half, which in turn resulted in another punt for the Sea Lion’s offense.
Some impressive pressure from the Sea Lions defensive line unsettled Ryan Mallett, and the Generals were held to a field goal attempt. However, it was blocked, and a good return by Darius Williams set up the Sea Lions with solid field position.
GAME DAY ALERT: Lirim Hajrullahu's field goal is blocked, giving the #TSLSeaLions possession.
After the Sea Lions started to find some momentum, Holmes threw up a prayer and it was picked off by Amani Dennis. However, a late penalty for roughing the passer was called, and the Sea Lions were set up with good field position going into the 4th.
Contrary to how the Sea Lions offense was at the beginning of the game, they were able to capitalize in the red zone. Ware ran it in from 8 yards out, and it was 25-19 in the early 4th quarter.
GAME DAY ALERT: Aca'cedric Ware grabs his second touchdown of the afternoon for the #TSLSeaLions.
Well, if you thought Darnell Holland was done showing off for the day…you couldn’t have been more wrong. He returned another kickoff to the house, and a successful two point conversion made it a 33-19 ball game.
Ben Holmes went down with an injury, so Johnson returned to the game, but the Sea Lions quickly had to punt.
As the fourth quarter wound down, the Generals offense continued to hum, and Chris James ran it in from one yard out to give his team a 39-19 lead.
The Sea Lions were able to score, as Johnson found KaVonte Turpin on a slant route in the endzone, and a two point conversion made it 39-27. Tommy Lavine somehow recovered the onsides kick attempt after a bobble by Epps, but Evan Worthington picked off Johnson, effectively ending the game.
This was the Darnell Holland show as the #TSLGenerals RB returned two kickoffs for TDs and added one more on the ground. The defending champs are squarely in the Mega Bowl picture with one week left to play.#TSLGenerals: 39#TSLSeaLions: 27
After a dominant day offensively from the Generals, they now put themselves in a position to make a championship run, granted that the Jousters lose at least one of the next two games.
Since they are sitting at 3-2, they are above the .500 mark, but that won’t matter if the Jousters continue to roll over their opponents as they have the last few weeks.
Despite the inconsistencies from the Generals this season, they do have a very strong roster. Ryan Mallett has thrown the football well, and Darnell Holland is simply incredible (3 TDs today, two of those on kickoff returns). Their defense has also been playing at a high level, doing an efficient job of generating pressure and making it difficult for opposing quarterbacks.
Only time will tell if the Generals can make the championship game – and it is up to them to get a clutch win next week against the Blues. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.
While the Sea Lions are now 1-4, the team should not be beating themselves up too much. They’ve had to deal with some tough injuries this season (most importantly their star RB Ladarious Galloway, who has missed the last two weeks).
Larry Kirksey’s squad has simply been unable to capitalize enough throughout The Spring League’s 2021 season, which has resulted in their losing record. However, there are definitely some talented players on the Sea Lions roster that should be looked at by professional leagues.
Week six is going to be a fun one. With the amount that is on the line for plenty of teams, it is most likely going to be the most intense one yet.
Have you enjoyed watching The Spring League this season? Do you think the Generals can still make the championship game? Let us know down in the comments below, or join the conversation on Discord!