On the Rutgers Bandwagon

So last night was 8-ball league, at home against Woodside, arguably the best team in our league. But as important as that match was to our chances of winning the league, it was completely overshadowed by the college football game on tv. 3rd ranked Louisville had come to NJ to play #15 Rutgers and it had been the talk of the town all week, especially in these parts since a couple of Rutgers’ players are from New Rochelle, including the Heisman Trophy candidate, running back Ray Rice. Westchester social circles are small, and around here it seems everyone knows someone who knows Ray Rice now, so it wasn’t surprising that one of the guys on Woodside is married to one of Rice’s cousins.

As far as the pool went, normally I play non-breaking games in this league, hoping the opponent sinks a few balls to clear up the clutter so that I have a better shot of running out when it’s my turn. Against Woodside though, every player is good enough to break and run out, so they’re the only team we play where I ask Tony Da Greek to put me in breaking games to ensure I get a chance to shoot. Unlike the precise cueball control you need to run out in 9-ball, the game of 8-ball is one where runouts are easy because you can muck up your intended cueball position and still have several other balls to shoot at. The only caveat is that run-ending clusters of balls are much more common in 8-ball because there’s 15 balls on the table. But against a team like Woodside, you’re still better off taking the break and hoping for a runnable spread than to sit and watch and possibly losing without having taken a shot. Anyway, long story short, I broke and ran out to win my singles game and then in doubles I broke and couldn’t run out because of a cluster I couldn’t bust up. My partner ran to the 8, but couldn’t make it and left it hanging for our opponents. We ended up getting shut out in our doubles and our match was toast, so our big guns packed it in to let some of our teammates get some games in for the final set of singles. This gave me the chance to kick back and watch the Rutgers game…

The first half it looked like Louisville was going to blow Rutgers out. Louisville was moving the ball, Rutgers couldn’t seem to hold them on 3rd downs, and Louisville answered a Rutgers TD with a 100 yard kickoff return. Before you knew it, the score was 25-7. Then the defense took over. I mean really took over. They started blitzing like crazy, stuffing everything, making Louisville punt on every possession. On offense Ray Rice started to pound out yards and finding nice seams for 15 yard chunks at a time. They made touchdowns, a two point conversion, a 46 yard field goal and just like that we were looking at a tie score. What a rush as the bar was going nuts with every play. 8 minutes to go, Rutgers needed a stop…and they got it. Louisville was forced to punt but they pinned Rutgers back deep. But no worries, they methodically moved the ball with a few medium sized runs and a couple of midrange passes. The critical point was a 3rd and 6 from around their own 35. Pretty much the whole ball game right there. And what did they do? Got 26 yards on a pass play to get them into Louisville territory. Under 5 minutes to go… Time to run off some clock and get Louisville to burn their last two timeouts. Everything was going pretty much textbook as they got the ball inside the 20 and burned their 3rd down to position the ball between the hash marks in a better spot for their kicker Jeremy Ito. 17 seconds left… Ito’s kick is up…and it’s no good… But wait! Flag on the play!! Louisville was offside!!! 5 yard penalty and another FG attempt…Ito’s kick is up…and perfect!! Holy smokes. Rutgers knocks off #3 Louisville and the pride of New Rochelle High, Ray Rice, now has to be considered a legitimate Heisman contender. Imagine that.

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