Blobfish Win Thrilling Cork Bowl 21 133-126 Over the Red Pandas as Trimble is Stopped at the 1 Yard Line on Game's Final Play; Willy Truitt Wins MVP Going 45-for-69 With 19 Touchdowns and 0 Interceptions; Robert Trimble Ties Single-Game Record With 10 Touchdowns on 21 Receptions; Jake Hoalt and Patrick Cork Combine For 14 Touchdowns in Victory
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Saturday, December 3rd- In 21 years of Cork Bowl, no game has ended with the type of drama that took place on Saturday afternoon at Corklestick Park. In one of the most evenly contested games in history, the largest lead of the game was 14 points - and lasted all of two minutes early in the third quarter. The game was tied 17 different times, and after playing 99 minutes and 57 seconds, the Red Pandas needed one more score to send the game to the first ever Cork Bowl overtime. With the Blobfish clinging to a 133-126 lead, the Red Pandas were 30 yards away from the endzone with 3 seconds to go. Everyone knew the ball would go to Red Pandas receiver Robert Trimble, who had put up one of the best individual performances in the game's history. Greg Howard completed a short pass to Trimble who shook off a pair of defenders and raced toward the endzone. Much like Super Bowl 34, the last play will forever be remembered as "The Tackle" as Patrick Cork dove at Trimble's legs tripping him up at the one yard line to end the game - and set off a wild celebration near midfield by the Blobfish.

"For 20 years I've dreamed of catching a touchdown pass as the clock ran out to end a Cork Bowl," remarked Patrick Cork. "But to be perfectly honest, never in a million years did I expect to finish a game with a defensive play. Trimble was a beast all day. Earlier in the game I tried to take out his legs and took a wicked knee to the hip, but the only thing I could think of was how badly I didn't want to play overtime. The last thing I wanted to do after playing 100 minutes of football was to keep playing."

"I've not been around for all the Cork Bowls, but I can't imagine a game ending in more exciting fashion," commented announcer Mike Miller. "My call of the last play was pure emotions - I channelled my inner Gus Johnson. When I saw Trimble go down at the one yard line, I said the only thing I could think of - "Heartbreak City!"

A beautiful 50 degree day was the setting for the game, and both teams took advantage of the ideal conditions in a high-scoring, back-and-forth first quarter of play. The Blobfish started with the ball and put up a quick score on back to back completions from Willy Truitt to Patrick Cork and Jake Hoalt with Hoalt scoring from 10 yards out for the 20th touchdown of his career. The Red Pandas responded with Greg Howard hooking up with Robert Trimble for the first of his record-tying 10 touchdowns to tie the game at 7. Another touchdown each from Hoalt and Trimble moved the score to 14-14 and Patrick Cork and Chris Cork exchanged touchdowns on the next two series to bring the score to 21-21 with seven minutes to play in the first period. Truitt hit Patrick for a 19 yard score for a 28-21 lead, but the Red Pandas answered immediately with a 38 yard, tackle-breaking score from Robert Trimble to knot the game at 28-28 (VIDEO). Truitt hit Hoalt on a bomb on the next play (35-28) (VIDEO), but once again the Red Pandas answered with a length-of-the-field score of their own to Chris Cork to tie the game at 35-35 (VIDEO). Over a three minute stretch, the teams combined to complete six passes for five touchdowns as the quarter wound down. The first pressure situation of the game came on the next drive as the Blobfish were faced with a fourth and goal from the two yard line. Truitt was able to hit Patrick Cork on a short touchdown to close the first quarter with the Blobfish in the lead 42-35.

After playing receiver last year, Cork Bowl's all-time leading passer Willy Truitt showed no signs of rust hitting on 14 of his 18 passes in the quarter for 6 touchdowns. After a dropped pass on the first play of the game, Truitt connected on 12 of his next 13 passes and was only blitzed one time late in the quarter. "I thought they might put a little pressure on me and make me move around in the pocket," said Truitt. "But they let me sit back and find the open man. I felt good about our chances to score every time we touched the ball. We had two guys I hadn't thrown to much, in Barmes and Zehr, so we just took it nice and slow with them. I hit them both on some easy balls, then challenged them a little with some zingers at tough angles, they both reeled them in. That is when my confidence really went up. I felt great at that point."

Greg Howard, playing his second year in a row at quarterback, was sharp as well connecting on 10-of-13 passes for 5 touchdowns. "Last year I started out pretty rough so it was important to come out and not turn the ball over early." Patrick Cork led all receivers with 6 catches in the quarter including 3 touchdowns. Jake Hoalt added four catches and 3 scores for the Blobfish. Robert Trimble hauled in 5 first quarter passes and scored three times while Chris Cork turned both of his catches into touchdowns.

The Red Pandas started the second quarter off with a five-play touchdown drive capped off by a 2-yard score to Chris Cork to tie the game at 42-42. The Blobfish, working with a no-huddle offense for much of the game, responded with a quick, two play drive with Willy Truitt finding Evan Woodard in the flat and Woodard broke a pair of tackles to get into the endzone for his first score of the game giving the Blobfish a 49-42 lead (VIDEO). The completion to Woodard was the 500th of Truitt's illustrious career. As would be the case for the rest of the game, the Red Pandas ran a significant amount of time off the clock on the next possession with an 8 play drive that took nearly 8 minutes off the clock. They converted a pair of fourth downs on the drive capped off by a one-yard touchdown run from Greg Howard. The Blobfish decided to blitz at the goal line and Howard was able to score easily around the right end to tie game at 49-49.

The game's first turnover followed on the next play as Evan Barmes took a short pass and advanced it near midfield before being stripped of the ball by Chris Cork. Cork not only forced the fumble, but also fell on it inside Blobfish territory. After a pair of incompletions, the Blobfish decided to blitz Howard again, but he was able to shake off an Aaron Zehr tackle in the backfield and find the endzone for a 15-yard rushing score to give the Red Pandas their first lead of the game at 56-49 (VIDEO). The only lead of the game for the Red Pandas didn't last long (2 minutes) as Truitt marched the Blobfish back down the field with three straight completions including a six-yard score to Hoalt to knot the game at 56-56. After a completion to Trimble moved the ball to midfield, Howard tried to hit Wilson in the back of the endzone, but Wilson slipped to the ground on his cut and Patrick Cork took advantage with an easy interception in the endzone for a touchback. The interception was Cork's 13th of his career tying him with Reggie Truitt for the all-time lead. Cork turned the turnover into quick points as he tiptoed the sideline for a 32-yard score on a third-and-long play to put the Blobfish back on top at 63-56 (VIDEO).

Much like the end of the first quarter, the second quarter ended with a flurry of activity in the closing minutes. Trimble took the first pass of the next drive the length of the field for a score to tie the game at 63-63 with just under a minute to play in the half. After a short completion to Woodard, Truitt found Aaron Zehr behind the defense for a 32-yard score with under 30 seconds to play to put the Blobfish back up 70-63. With the Blobfish switching to a zone defense, Chris Cork found an opening in the deep middle and snuck through unguarded into the secondary. After catching the pass, Cork ran off several seconds before entering the endzone to tie the game at 70-70 with just 12 seconds to play in the half (VIDEO). The touchdown was the 70th of Cork's 21 year career. Instead of looking for two plays to get a score, the Blobfish went for it all on the first play as Truitt hit Zehr in the back of the endzone on a long touchdown pass to give the Blobfish a 77-70 advantage with five seconds to go in the half (VIDEO). With one play left, the Red Pandas sent everyone deep and Howard threw one up for grabs deep down the field. Chris Cork was somehow able to come down with the pass in heavy traffic and managed to lateral to Brooks Wilson before being tackled, but a heads up play from Jake Hoalt saved a touchdown as he was able to bring Wilson down at the five-yard line to secure the 77-70 halftime lead for the Blobfish.

"I can't begin to tell you how many Cork Bowls have been decided by the last minute of the first half," remarked Patrick Cork. "The Red Pandas were getting the ball to start the half so we had to have a one-score lead heading into the break. The touchdown from Zehr and the stop on the last play gave us a big lift heading into the locker room."

Willy Truitt continued his torrid pace in the quarter connecting on 11-of-12 passes for five touchdowns. Howard struggled with consistency in the quarter, but was effective getting his team into the endzone connecting on 10-of-20 passes with 3 touchdowns. He also ran for a pair of scores and threw one interception. Chris Cork led the way with 4 catches and 2 touchdowns in the quarter and Robert Trimble had 4 catches and a score as well. The Blobfish continued to be balanced on offense with all five players catching at least one pass in the quarter again with Patrick Cork and Zehr leading the team with three receptions in the quarter. As was the case for much of the game, the Red Pandas dominated the time of possession battle holding the ball for nearly 18 of the 25 minutes in the quarter. They ran 22 plays compared to just 12 for the Blobfish. The Blobfish were extremely efficient scoring five touchdowns on those 12 plays.

"We went no huddle but weren't in hurry-up mode," commented quarterback Willy Truitt. "Our guys were finding open spots and I felt comfortable with them making plays on their own. I thought the Red Pandas never found an offensive flow because they spent so much time between plays. I think that hurt Howard's rhythm throwing the ball. As a long-time quarterback in this game I know how important it is to get a play going quickly and keep the defense on its toes. We had time to set up our defense every play and never really felt uncomfortable on the defensive side of the ball."

Truitt put together one of the best halves of his Hall of Fame career completing 25 passes on just 30 attempts. 11 of those passes resulted in touchdowns and he did not throw an interception. Howard was 20-for-33 with 8 passing touchdowns in the first half and the second quarter interception. Trimble and Cork each had 9 first half receptions for their teams with each scoring 4 touchdowns as well. Jake Hoalt had a strong first half for the Blobfish with 6 catches and 4 scores and Chris Cork hauled in 6 passes for 4 touchdowns for the Red Pandas as well.

After a high-scoring, back and forth half of football, the third quarter brought the game to a screeching halt. The Red Pandas started the half with the ball and quickly moved the ball to the Blobfish four yard line on a pair of completions. However, as would be the case for much of the game, the Red Pandas offense struggled inside the five yard line. A pass for Kevin Ryan was knocked away by Evan Barmes, and then a short dump off pass to Ryan was completed but he was stopped at the two yard line short of the endzone. A third down pass to Chris Cork was thrown into heavy traffic, but Cork had his hands on the pass but couldn't haul it in forcing a frustrating fourth down play from the two yard line. Brooks Wilson got lost amongst the defense and was wide open in the corner of the endzone but dropped the pass from Howard as the Red Pandas turned the ball over on downs. "We run 6 1/2 minutes off the clock, have a first and goal situation from the four yard line and can't score," complained Chris Cork. "That's really unacceptable. I'm not sure what happened to us, but every time we got close to the east endzone we had trouble getting the ball across the goal line."

Truitt was unable to connect on his first two passes putting the pressure back on the Blobfish with a crucial 3rd and 18, but Truitt hit Patrick Cork cutting across the middle and Cork dove across the goal line to put the Blobfish up by two touchdowns for the first time in the game at 84-70 (VIDEO). The score was the 90th of Cork's career. Trimble answered with an impressive 38-yard catch and run touchdown on the next possession for the Red Pandas nearly losing his pants halfway through the play, but managed to find the endzone anyway to cut the lead to 84-77 (VIDEO). Truitt, struggling to complete passes for the first time in the game, found himself in a fourth-and-8 situation just short of midfield. The Red Pandas brought Trimble on a blitz, but Truitt kept his composure, rolled to his right and lobbed a pass to a wide open Aaron Zehr who had released behind the defense, but Zehr bobbled the pass as he was turning to run and the first turnover on downs for the Blobfish gave the ball back to the Red Pandas. "That was a huge play in the game," added Truitt. "We had them in the position we wanted with them down two possessions. When we didn't score there I had a feeling we were going to be in for a wild finish."

Once again, the Red Pandas got the ball inside the five yard line on their first play, but needed all four downs to score as Howard hit Trimble on a quick crossing route in the front of the endzone on fourth down to once again tie the score at 84-84 with 8 minutes to go in the third quarter. On the play, Patrick Cork was shaken up trying to tackle Trimble as he took a knee to the right hip knocking him out of the game for several plays. "I got lit up big time," recalled Cork. "He was going full speed and drilled me with his knee going into the endzone. I would have preferred not to have had to try to tackle him in the open field again the rest of the game." After a long completion to Evan Barmes, Truitt hit Hoalt for a 7 yard score to give the Blobfish a 91-84 lead. The Red Pandas pushed the ball to the 2-yard line as time expired on the third quarter with them trailing 91-84.

After each team scored at least 35 points in the first two quarters, the two teams were only able to manage 14 points apiece in the third period. "The pace of play really slowed down, and a lot of that had to do with the Red Pandas having the ball the whole quarter," said Evan Woodard. Again, the Red Pandas held the ball for 18 of the 25 minutes in the quarter running 17 plays to only 11 for the Blobfish. Truitt completed just 5 passes in the quarter on 10 attempts with 2 touchdowns. Howard completed 10 passes for the third straight quarter on 17 attempts, including a pair of touchdowns. Once again, Trimble led all receivers with 4 catches and a pair of scores in the quarter. In the third quarter alone the Red Pandas ran nine plays inside the five yard line. On those nine plays they completed just three passes for 6 yards and one touchdown. "It seemed like we spent half the game defending the east endzone," said Willy Truitt. "They'd complete a couple passes to get close and then we'd be guarding that endzone for five minutes at the end of every drive."

The Red Pandas pushed the ball across the goal line on the first play of the 4th quarter to tie the game at 91-91 on a short pass to Wilson. The Blobfish looked for quick strike, and got it as Jake Hoalt got behind the defense and Truitt hit him on the deep ball for a 38-yard score to give the Blobfish the lead again at 98-91 (VIDEO). The Red Pandas marched down the field with a 5-play drive capped off by a 13 yard score from Trimble to tie the game at 98-98. Another third down conversion by Patrick Cork set up a 10 yard score to Hoalt for a 105-98 advantage, but Trimble answered as he would all quarter with a length-of-the-field catch and run score to knot the game at 105-105. Truitt worked the ball down the field with the "Evans" completing three of his four passes on the next drive to Woodard and Barmes with Barmes hauling in a 2-yard touchdown to put the lead back to seven points at 112-105. Trimble broke a long run down to the two yard line and Howard was able to find Wilson after one of his patented push-offs for the game-tying score from two yards out to make the score 112-112.

Truitt connected with Hoalt for the third time in the fourth quarter for a 26 yard score down the sideline to give the Blobfish a 119-112 advantage (VIDEO), but once again Trimble went the length of the field on a controversial play to tie the game at 119-119 (VIDEO). Trimble appeared to be tackled by Evan Barmes after a short gain, but never actually touched the ground. "I saw he never touched the ground, but it was very similar to a play we had earlier in the game where we decided the runner's forward progress was stopped," said Patrick Cork. "We had a couple guys there that could have finished him off but they laid off assuming the play was dead. It was a close play, but in all honesty they were going to score anyway so it really didn't matter."

With under five minutes to go, Truitt continued to stay cool under pressure hitting on three straight passes on the next drive and finding Aaron Zehr in the endzone for his third score of the game giving the Blobfish a 126-119 advantage with 3 minutes to play. Howard responded with four consecutive completions of his own and found Trimble in the corner of the endzone for his fourth score of the quarter and his record-tying 10th touchdown of the game with 41 seconds to go. Truitt had a chance to lead his team on a championship clinching drive and hit Evan Barmes for 24 yards on the first play to put the ball into Red Pandas territory with under 30 seconds to play. After an incomplete pass, Truitt looked to his favorite target in the front of the endzone hitting Patrick Cork for the go-ahead touchdown with just 17 seconds to play. With the Blobfish leading 133-126, and the Red Pandas having two timeouts remaning, they would have time for three more plays to try to tie the game and send the game to overtime.

Howard connected with Trimble on a short completion but Evan Barmes made a solid open field tackle for just an 8 yard gain on first down. Howard was unable to find a receiver on second down and threw the ball away with 3 seconds left and setting up one final play. After double-teaming Trimble for nearly the entire game, the Blobfish put Hoalt on him by himself and moved Patrick Cork to deep safety for the first time in the game. The move would pay off. Howard looked for Trimble over the middle for a short completion but Trimble was able to spin away from Barmes and Hoalt and had open field ahead of him. With Josh Williamson leading the way, Trimble made a move toward the sideline but Cork made a desperate dive at Trimble's legs upending him. When Trimble came down, he fell one yard short of the endzone and the Blobfish had escaped with a 133-126 victory. (VIDEO)"I felt comfortable being deep safety for a potential hail-mary pass and thought I'd have a good chance to knock one down," recalled Cork. "But I'm nowhere near the best tackler on our team so the last thing I was thinking of was having to make a tackle in the open field - especially against Trimble. I made a guess on where he would go and got just enough of him to knock him off his feet. If we ran that same scenario 10 times he probably scores the other 9 times. What a way to end a game." The play kept Trimble from breaking the single-game record for touchdowns in a game, having to settle for a tie with 10. It also prevented the first overtime in Cork Bowl history - something that all players have had nightmares about since they started playing. "I think 100 minutes is plenty," remarked Chris Cork. "In all honesty, 15 minutes is enough. Having to play more than that is something I don't think any of us really want to ever happen."

Trimble dominated the fourth quarter of play catching 8 passes and scoring 4 touchdowns. The rest of the Red Pandas combined for 6 receptions and 2 touchdowns in the quarter. Howard connected on 14-of-19 passes for 6 scores in the period - with the vast majority of those going to Trimble. After just five completions in the third quarter, Willy Truitt was red-hot in the final frame hitting 15 of 19 for six more scores. Every player on the Blobfish had at least two catches in the final period - the third quarter of the game in which all five receivers caught at least one pass. Cork had 4 with one touchdown, Hoalt had 3 catches and scored on all 3, Barmes and Zehr each had 3 receptions and a score and Wooard had a pair of catches. "Our team seemed a lot fresher in the fourth quarter," said Truitt. "All of our guys were able to take advantage of their matchups at one time or another and I had complete confidence in all five of them to look their way at any point. Everyone said we were young and inexperienced, but our guys made a bunch of championship plays in that final quarter."

In a highly contested MVP race, Willy Truitt narrowly beat out teammates Patrick Cork and Jake Hoalt, as well as Red Pandas receiver Robert Trimble to secure his third MVP award. It was Truitt's first un-shared MVP award as he was also the co-MVP in Cork Bowls 10 and 19. After playing receiver last year in Cork Bowl 20, Truitt returned to the spot that has made him famous over the years. He set a new record for completion percentage in a game hitting on 45-of-59 passes (76%). 19 of those completions went for scores, and once again he did not throw an interception in the game. Dating back to Cork Bowl 19, Truitt has gone 126 consecutive attempts without an interception, and has thrown just one interception in his last 267 attempts dating back to the second quarter of Cork Bowl 16. "Needless to say, that's one of the most amazing stretches of quarterback play at any level of football," praised teammate Patrick Cork. "His touchdown to interception ratio over the past three and a half games is 68-to-1. That's unprecedented."

Patrick Cork led the way for the balanced Blobfish attack with 14 catches and 6 touchdowns including five receptions on 3rd or 4th down. "It had been too long since Patrick and I had been together," remarked Truitt. "We connected on some easy routes early, then before I knew it, he's laying out for that patented 'Out' play he's become famous for. The cheer from the fans for that one play alone was amazing. It tells me the fans have been paying attention for years, and that is the Patrick Cork they remember. We saw flashes of that this year, and he led our team in receiving. I was very happy about that." Jake Hoalt hauled in 12 passes and tied his career-high with 8 touchdowns. Aaron Zehr set new career highs with 8 catches and 3 touchdowns. Evan Barmes set a new career high with 6 catches (1 touchdown) and Evan Woodard had 5 receptions with 1 touchdown. For the Red Pandas, Trimble was unstoppable despite a multitude of double-teams from the Blobfish. He finished with a career-high 21 receptions and tied the single-game record with 10 touchdowns. He also had a record-breaking 434 yards on the day (since the yardage numbers began in Cork Bowl 15, no player had gained more than 308 yards in a game). He had six touchdown receptions that went the entire 38 yard length of the field and scored 6 of his team's final 8 touchdowns in the game. No other Red Pandas reached double digits in receptions. Chris Cork had 8 catches and scored 4 times while Brooks Wilson scored twice on his 8 catches. Kevin Ryan hauled in five passes and Josh Williamson had 2 catches with neither finding the endzone. Greg Howard has a nearly identical game as he did last year in his debut, with the exception being just one interception. He completed 44 passes on 69 attempts for 16 touchdowns. He also added a pair of rushing touchdowns in the second quarter.

Defensively, Trimble led all players with 12 tackles. Wilson and Williamson each had 5 tackles, Howard had 3, Chris Cork had 2 and Kevin Ryan had 1. Cork also had a forced fumble and fumble recovery in the second quarter. Patrick Cork led the Blobfish with 10 tackles and picked off a pass - the 13th of his career. Jake Hoalt had 7 tackles, Evan Barmes 4, Aaron Zehr 3, Willy Truitt 2 and Evan Woodard 2.

With the return of the blitz (allowed one time per possession), the assumption was there would be a variety of blitz attempts in the game. However, the two teams only combined to rush the passer five times in the game with no sacks being recorded. The time of possession battle was amazingly lopsided with the Red Pandas controlling the ball for 65 of the 100 minutes. Even more amazingly, the Red Pandas scored length-of-the-field touchdowns 8 times in the game. If not for those quick strike scores, the time of possession likely would have been closer to 70-30. Part of that was due to the no-huddle offense run most of the game by the Blobfish, but lack of execution inside the five yard line also played a part. The Red Pandas ran 16 plays inside the five yard line in the game, scoring on just four of them. "We only got one interception, from Patrick, and quite frankly, I thought we'd haul in three or more," said Truitt. "We had a few close calls, but couldn't haul in another one. Overall, we did what we had to on defense. We made them work for it, they had to execute a lot of 3rd and 4th downs. That's all you can ask for in Cork Bowl. Those can go either way, and usually when a quarterback has his back against the wall, that's when you see some turnovers. We didn't get those breaks, but we set it up good." For the game, the Red Pandas ran 19 plays on third or fourth downs compared to only 11 for the Blobfish.

After debuting four rookies last year, there were no newbies in Cork Bowl 21. However, the Blobfish played with the only two second-year players in Aaron Zehr and Evan Barmes. The Blobfish were confident coming in, but many around the league doubted they could win with such a young team. "I was really impressed with both Zehr and Barmes," remarked Willy Truitt. "Barmes was able to get open, catch the ball and move it upfield. Zehr is a lot like Jeff Henney. He didn't bust on to the scene like Henney, but that's probably because we didn't lean on him right away, or put in a spot defensively to make that splash. That said, he held his own when he was guarding Trimble. On the offensive side, he is learning how to go get that ball. He has great hands, and now that he has a few Cork Bowls under his belt, I wouldn't be surprised to see him challenge for MVP next year. I hope to play with him again next year and build on the momentum from this year."

Once again, there were no immediate retirement announcements following the game from any of the veterans. News of a potential Jeff Henney return next fall could send shockwaves through the league and a major shake-up in the rosters. "We'll cross that bridge when we get there," deflected Commissioner Patrick Cork. "There are always some unexpected things that come up each fall so we'll have to see how things play out over the next 11 months."

Cork Bowl 21 Game Notes:

Robert Trimble moved from 9th in receptions and 10th in career touchdowns up to 6th place all-time with his record setting performance...Greg Howard moved into 6th place all-time in completions and 5th in touchdown passes....With 10 tackles, Patrick Cork passed Reggie Truitt to move into second place all-time and also moved into a tie with Truitt for the lead in career interceptions with 13....Patrick Cork caught his 90th touchdown pass of his career and brother Chris caught his 70th touchdown in the game.....Willy Truitt has gone 126 attempts without an interception and has just one interception in his last 267 attempts.....Kevin Ryan and Josh Williamson were held without a touchdown for the first time in their careers....Brooks Wilson failed to reach double-digits in receptions for the first time since he returned to the field in Cork Bowl 13.....Willy Truitt has more career completions (529) than the second and third all-time passers combined (508)....


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