The Lehigh Valley Steelhawks (6-8) closed out the regular season in what may have been one of the most exciting finishes in IFL history. The Steelhawks were able to defeat the Chicago Slaughter (6-8) 54-53 on a last second two point conversion in double overtime to seal the victory. The win gives the Steelhawks a 2-1 advantage on the season series with the Slaughter and closes out the teams 2012 regular season.
The game started out with a 3-0 Slaughter advantage, but the visiting Steelhawks soon took over. Kick returner Jesse Cooper returned his third kickoff for a touchdown in the last three games to open up Lehigh Valley’s scoring, then after a big stop on defense, Quarterback Chris Malleo marched the team down the field that ended with an Isaac West touchdown. The Steelhawks receiver finished the game with 7 catches for 123 yards and a score.
The Slaughter battled back however behind the arm of Syracuse product Perry Patterson and the stout running attack of Daniel Dufrene, and the teams went into halftime knotted up at 30 apiece. Both teams’ defenses got it going in the second half however. Even more impressive for the Steelhawks was their ability to hold Chicago despite losing two defensive linemen, and a linebacker to injuries early in the second half. Matt Cohen (10 tackles) was forced to go down and play defensive line, and star Defensive Back Marvin Johnson (12 tackles, 1 sack), had to move to middle linebacker to finish off the contest. At the end of regulation the score was once again tied at 40 forcing overtime for the second time against each other. The two teams played in the longest game in IFL history back in April in Lehigh going four overtimes.
The Steelhawks struck first in overtime on a three yard Ryan Leafey touchdown. However their extra point attempt was bloacked. Chicago then answered right back with a long touchdown pass from Patterson to Shatone Powers. All Chicago needed for the victory was an extra point, but the Steelhawks defense was able to get a strong rush and force an errant kick wide by Chris Nendick.
The Slaughter had first possession in the second overtime and scored quickly on a Daniel Dufrene TD run and the extra point was good this time by Nendick to give the Slaughter a 53-46 advantage. However the Steelhawks heart would not be outdone on this day as Malleo marched the team in once again and found converted Defensive back and Lehigh University graduate John Kennedy III for his first professional touchdown from three yards out. Down just one point, with the ability to kick a point to force a third overtime, Coach Thompson called a timeout and made the gutsy call to go for two points and the win. A pass play was called and as Malleo scrambled to his right found his favorite target, and Steelhawks leading receiver, Irani DeAraujo in the back of the endzone for a successful conversion and a 54-53 thrilling victory.
The team finishes off the regular season with a 6-8 record and must see how the chips fall in the final week of the IFL regular season to determine their playoff hopes. On Sunday, the team will celebrate their season with a post season party at Roosevelt’s 21st located at 21 E. Elizabeth Avenue in Bethlehem on Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. All are welcome to attend, and there will be plenty of food and drink specials.