EFL Home 2004 Season Championship Game
Wilmington Snooze-Terminal, November 29, 2004

Lakers Outclass Crush to Take Title

J. Lewis, Maddox, Branch Lead 34‑24 Conquest

by Rip Snorter
The Philadelphia Lakers won their sixth EFL championship by outclassing the Syracuse Crush, 34‑24, in front of a gleeful home crowd. Trailing 24‑20 at the half, the Lakers stepped up their defense and controlled the ball for 20 of the remaining 30 minutes. The decisive score was a 7-yard pass from Tommy Maddox to tight end Chad Lewis with 14:07 left.

Philadelphia just had too many weapons for Syracuse. Those weapons were at their best too as the Lakers’ offense accumulated 479 yards compared to Syracuse’s 314.

For the Lakers the big guns on offense were

After Philadelphia took the lead for good, 31‑24, on the touchdown by Chad Lewis and a two-point conversion run by Jamal Lewis, the Lakers defense allowed the Crush a couple of first downs but then forced them to punt from near midfield. Taking possession on their own 16 with 10:05 to go, Maddox led Philadelphia on a 19-play drive in which the Lakers that ate up more than eight minutes. In this drive the Lakers gained the implausible total of 101 yards; the actual real estate covered was 76 due to Philadelphia penalties.

The drive culminated with a 25-yard field goal by Bryant, his fourth three-pointer of the game and his eighth of the playoffs, an EFL playoff record. The kick, which extended the Lakers’ lead to its final margin of 10, came after Bryant missed from the same distance on the previous play. Offsetting penalties wiped the miss from the books and gave Bryant a reprieve.

The first half was a shootout in which the teams traded scores. At one point six consecutive series yielded points. Syracuse twice enjoyed seven-point leads A 10-yard pass from Patrick Ramsey pass to Laveranues Coles opened the scoring with 11:38 left in the first quarter. It took Philadelphia only two plays to even the score with the bomb from Maddox to Branch.

The second seven-point Crush lead, 17‑10, came on a 36-yard pass from Ramsey to Johnnie Morton with 12:36 remaining in the half. The Lakers then ran off 10 straight points taking the lead for the first time, 20‑17, on a 46-yard Bryant field goal with 3:14 to go. After both teams went three-and-out, Ramsey engineered a six-play, 59-yard drive in the waning moments of the half.

Ramsey capped off the drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Rock Cartwright putting Syracuse back in front, 24‑20, with 0:52 until halftime. Although the Crush would fail to score again, they maintained the lead into the first minute of the final quarter.

Turnovers didn’t play a big role in the game. Syracuse turned the ball over twice, Philadelphia once.

Back in early October when Philadelphia was routed, 31‑13, in a national television game by what would turn out to be a woeful Baltimore team, the Lakers, at 4‑3, hardly looked like contenders. They responded with a six-game winning streak to capture home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

During that streak the Lakers showed the versatility of a champion, winning with offense (38‑35 over New York) and defense (holding Richmond, Albany, and Delaware to single-digit points). Along the way came a preview of the championship game in which Philadelphia administered a 33‑11 beating to Syracuse. All told the Lakers won eight of their last nine games, including the two playoff games. Their one loss during this stretch was the meaningless regular season finale with Jamal Lewis and other regulars sitting out.

The Crush proved a more formidable foe in the championship game but not formidable enough. Philadelphia held them to under 100 yards rushing, three times throwing Syracuse backs for seven yard losses. The Lakers held the Crush to only 81 net yards in the second half.

( Box Score | Chart )