Koc Rams advance to Turkish final amid controversy

The defending Turkish champion Koc Rams advanced to the championship final by the skin of their teeth this past weekend as they edged the Yeditepe Eagles 17-16 in a game that ended amid huge controversy.

The Rams had defeated Yeditepe two weeks earlier 39-7 and were not expecting the stiff resistance they faced Sunday in Istanbul. And the game would go down to the wire with the Eagles knocking on the door. With 26 seconds left, and Yeditepe parked on the Rams four yard line, a fumble somehow ate 26 seconds off the clock, ending the game. Eagles quarterback Austin Stubbs fumbled the ball when attempting to spike it to stop the clock and in the confusion with players scrambling for the ball, no whistle was blown .

The game ended and the Rams emerged victorious but not without arguments. The first half also ended in a time clock controversy.

Which is too bad because it all overshadowed an excellent, defensive football game.

Rams quarterback Quentin Williams completed 10 of 15 passes for 158 yards and a touchdown. Receivers Ozan Özcan and Kaan Özer each scored while  Mehmet Sarıkatipoğlu kicked a field goal and both extra points.

Austin Stubbs threw for 166 yards and two touchdowns for the Eagles with Yavuz Akaydın and Mert Gerek catching a touchdown pass each.

The Eagles came out firing on the opening possession moving the ball at will on the Rams defense before a Tolga Miniç (Rams) sack. However, this first drive set the tone of the game as it was evident early on that the Eagles wouldn’t lay down against the defending champs and intended to battle until the final whistle.

The Rams ended their first offensive possession with a Sarıkatipoğlu field goal after reaching the four yd line and stalling due to penalties. Later in the first, the Eagles answered with a field goal of their own from Cağrı Atalay.

The Rams scored again early in the second as Taha Cokadar fumbled a reception into the end zone that was recovered by receiver Ozan Özcan for a Rams TD to make the score 10-3. Just before the half, the time clock issues began as the referees announced there was 16 seconds on the clock. A Rams pass incompletion into the end zone somehow ate up the entire 16 seconds which kick started the arguments.

Eagles QB Austin Stubbs

The Rams held a 10-3 lead at halftime.

Williams opened the second half  marching the Rams on a 57 yd drive capping it with a 26 yard touchdown pass to Özer  to bring the score to 17-3.

Late in the third, Yeditepe showed their resolve as Stubbs and running back Chris Elliot guided the Eagles one a successful drive which resulted in a passing touchdown from Stubbs to receiver Yavuz Akaydın increasing the Rams lead to 17-10.

Which led to a final minute full of an entire game of drama and controversy.

On fourth and 19, Stubbs threw a last gasp pass which fell incomplete, and which would have effectively ended the game, but a late hit penalty gave the Eagles new life and a first down to operate near the Rams red zone. With a minute or so left in the game, Stubbs threw a miracle touchdown pass to Gerek who came down with the ball surrounded by three Rams defenders. 17-16 Rams.

The Eagles gambled on a two-point conversion and Stubbs plunged into the end zone in the middle of the pile, but the referees ruled his knee was down early.

So the Rams still held a 17-16 lead with 45 seconds to play

Stubbs successfully recovered the Eagles onside kick, giving the Eagles one last shot.The Eagles marched down the field to the four yard line with no timeouts. With 26 seconds on the clock,  Stubbs attempted to spike the ball to set up a game winning field goal. But on the snap he fumbled then immediately appeared to have jumped on his own fumble. However, because of the pile of players and each at the bottom of the pile trying to scrap for the loose ball, the refereess couldn’t see who had possession nor were they trying to get either team back in their huddles or set the ball.

A huge argument ensued from players and coaches on both teams as to who recovered.

The referees still had not signaled the end of the play nor the result of the play. Finally, after a lengthy discussion they ruled that the Eagles had recovered but that time had expired sparking more arguments as to how the play could have taken 26 seconds.

So the Rams were awarded the win and will move on to  face the Sakarya Tatankaları in the Turkish Super League final on June 18. Sakarya defeated the ITÜ Hornets 31-20 in the other semifinal.

AFI
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