“Risky Business”/ Kappa Phi – Instant Classic
Ben Hill Griffin Stadium has hosted a number of memorable classics, and Monday night The Swamp added another thriller to its resumé. Every year, the University of Florida Intramural Flag Football Championships are played in the 91,000+ seat facility. With eleven various leagues including a Fraternity, Sorority, “Co-Rec,” and the top “Mens Competitive” league competing all Fall for a chance to live a dream and play under the lights in The Swamp.
The championship games began with the “Co-Rec” league and culminated with the main event “Mens Competitive” Division Championship which featured a battle of the unbeaten rivals, defending champion “Risky Business” vs. “Kappa Phi Epsilon.”
“Risky Business” ended Kappa Phi’s season last year in the quarter-finals. With both teams on opposing sides of this years bracket, Kappa Phi knew in all likelihood that a championship appearance would mean a chance at redemption vs. the powerhouse known as “Risky Business,” who also compete in national travel events.
After both teams posted undefeated regular seasons, and marched their way through the playoffs, the Championship match-up Monday night in The Swamp was set.
On the opening drive, Kappa Phi QB Austin Riddaugh was impressive completing a string of passes and scrambling effectively, however the “Risky Business” defense as they showed in their semi-final matchup, would tighten near the goal line coming up with a key stand.
On the ensuing “Risky Business” possession, QB Guillermo Diaz would convert a crucial 4th down on the drive, that went off the hands of Kappa Phi’s Austin Riddaugh. That would prove costly for Kappa Phi, as “Risky Business” would march down and find WR Ryan Roberts on a 3rd and goal in the end zone, to give Risky Business the early lead. The PAT extended the lead to 7-0.
Kappa Phi would not rollover however, as Riddaugh completed passes to Nick Meno and Zachary Pizzi to work the ball across midfield. That would set up a highlight reel 35-yard diving catch by Nick Meno in the corner of the end zone to cut the lead to 7-6. (Highlights Above)
Rain began to fall as the 1st half came to an end with Risky Business on top 7-6. The rain would not slow the “Risky Business” offense, as QB Guillermo Diaz found his rhythm on a 7-minute drive capped with a 10-yard touchdown pass to WR James Di Virgilio to put “Risky Business” on top 14-6 after the PAT.
After forcing a turnover on downs on the next possession, “Risky Business” took over on the Kappa Phi 35 yard-line with just 5 minutes left in the game and an opportunity to put the game away.
The Kappa Phi defense however, would rise to the occasion forcing the turnover on downs to keep their championship hopes alive.
Trailing 14-6 with just 3:20 to play, Riddaugh scrambled for 20 yards on the first play of the drive and then completed a pass to Hunter Brown for a first down across mid-field.
With Just 1:02 to play, facing a 3rd and goal from the 15, Riddaugh scrambled right, throwing across his body to find favorite target Nick Meno for the reception, setting up a 4th and goal from the 5. With the game on the line, Riddaugh fired a strike on a slant to a sliding Nick Meno in the end-zone to cut the lead to two with just 52 seconds left on the clock.
Needing a 2-point conversion to tie, “Risky Business” brought pressure forcing Riddaugh to throw it up for grabs. The ball was batted around and eventually intercepted in the end zone by Dez Foster to seal the 14-12 victory, and second consecutive title for “Risky Business.” (Full Highlights Here)
After the game Kappa Phi star receiver Nick Meno spoke about the game and experience, “We played as well as we could have and sometimes you don’t get the right bounces. “Risky” is as good as they come, we knew they were going to bring it. Bottom line, we played in the Swamp and that’s something we’ll remember for a long time. We’ll be back.”