WORLD LEAGUE – Being called the game of the year by some fans in the World League, the Week 15 Eastern Conference Championship Game was the highly anticipated rematch of two titans of the 2017 season. In Week 5, the Old England Patriots (11-2-0) beat the Scandinavian Stars (10-3-0), 89-63 in what turned out to be an anticlimactic matchup. Since that meeting though, both teams went on to establish themselves as the two powerhouse teams of the 2017 season. Each are 2017-18 Pro Bowl Nominated teams, and they posted the two best records in the league. England is the first ever 11 win franchise in World League regular season history, while Scandinavia, who finished with 10 wins, picked up another last week, beating the league’s total scoring leader, London Falling – also a Pro Bowl Nominee – in the conference semifinals. As mundane as this pair’s first meeting of 2017 might have been, those who had been anticipating a December showdown between the two weren’t disappointed.
The game got off to a slow start on Saturday and wasn’t decided until late into Monday Night Football, staying genuinely competitive from start to finish. The Patriots and Stars, despite being two of the top scoring units of 2017, got off to a grinding, low scoring 1st half, as the game began to unfold, seemingly in slow motion. Scandinavia scored first, but only managed to put 2 points on the scoreboard from their lead receiver. England answered in the second quarter, but their own lead receiver was only good for 3 and a half points, with their tight end adding another point and a half, while the Stars’ Charger defense doubled Scandinavia’s score with just 2 points. Heading into the half, it was just a 5-4 ballgame, but once the Sunday games rolled around for the third quarter, both offenses began to gain traction. The Patriots opened up a bit of a lead, largely on the strength of their second in the league, Raven defense, and their Thomas and Kamara Saints-combo, but by the end of the day Scandinavia had managed to close within striking distance. The Stars’ lead back, produced a whopping 44 points for them with a 4 touchdown performance, and their franchise QB, fresh off what was thought to be a season-ending injury got them even closer. Englands flexback provided them with a scant 6 points of breathing room before the game headed into Monday night with an 88-79 English lead.
Going into Monday Night Football, it was still either team’s game to win, Scandinavia still had 4 skill position players yet to play, but the Patriots had the small lead and the 2016 NFL MVP, Matt Ryan cocked and ready. England’s QB managed just over 200 yards and only a single passing touchdown, but also added a couple of beautiful scrambles for positive rushing yards, and the Patriots managed to hold onto a razor thin lead through three and a half quarters of play. But with just about 8 minutes left to play in the 4th, the Stars’ Devonta Freeman broke for a 32 yard touchdown run that gave Scandinavia back the lead they had chased since it was 2-0 early on Saturday. Between the yardage (3 pts), the 100 yard rushing bonus (3pts) and the touchdown (6pts), it was a 12 point play for Scandinavia; the final score was 116-104, Scandiniavia winning by a 12 point margin to repeat for the second season in a row as the WFL Eastern Conference Champions. The Old England Patriots head back to the drawing board for the 2018 campaign, but they can hang their helmets on a spectacular season, a handful of broken records, and their historic 50th franchise win. Scandinavia, meanwhile, will be heading to the States for World Bowl 6, being held in South Carolina, the home of the Dacusville Devils who beat Scandinavia in Los Angeles for last season’s World Championship. This year, the Stars will be facing theWestern Champion Buenos Aires Blue Dogs in their first ever World Bowl appearance.