COLUMBIA — With the ball at the 10-yard line and less than 10 seconds left in the game, Domination led Hit Squad 34-28. It all came down to one play for the Domination defense. A bullet pass into a crowd in the end zone landed in the arms of Domination’s Curtis Coots.
The interception gave Domination the win and sent them into the championship game of the Show-Me State Games adult 7-on-7 football tournament Saturday at Cosmo Park. There were seven teams in the tournament, each playing two games to determine seeding in the double-elimination bracket.
The teams had to advance the ball by throwing it. No running plays were allowed. A receiver was down when touched with one hand. There were no rushers, but the quarterback had just 4 seconds to throw.
Domination consisted of a group of friends from Jefferson City, ranging in age from 21-28. Most of the players played football in high school and some played in college.
“A nice group of individuals that still have playing skills wanted to get together for a nice day of football,” Darryl Coles said of the team.
John Lehman, 21, plays football for Central Methodist University and played for Jefferson City High School. Despite the obvious differences between 7-on-7 and college football, Lehman said many of the same skills still apply.
“It’s not too different. You’ve got to keep your fundamentals in line out here,” he said. “You don’t want to get too crazy.”
The games resemble backyard pickup games, but Lehman stressed the importance of having a strategy.
“You don’t want to get too unorganized out here and start playing a little street ball,” he said. “You want to keep it as organized as you can. That’s how you win out here.”
Jacob Hopkins played quarterback for Dominance. He played quarterback at Jefferson City High School for two years, but the 7-on-7 game is much different.
“It’s a lot more comfortable because you don’t have anyone coming after you,” he said. “But four seconds does come quick. The key is to throw short, quick passes.”
Throwing those short passes is what led to success for Domination. They ran a lot of shallow crossing routes and quick outs to get first downs. When the defense came up too tight, that’s when they went deep.
But Domination got off to a slow start in the tournament. They lost their first game to Hit Squad, a Columbia-based team, 32-21. In their second game, they trailed Big Red 26-14 early in the second half before scoring two touchdowns to go up 27-26. They ended the game with a goal-line stand, finished off by a pass breakup by Ray Williams in the end zone on the final play.
The win gave Domination the four seed in the tournament. Their first game was a rematch versus Big Red, which Domination won 39-25. The semifinal game was another rematch, this time versus Hit Squad. Domination came out with a lot of intensity, and jumped out to a 13-0 lead and led 20-7 at halftime. A furious comeback by Hit Squad gave them a 28-27 lead with two minutes left, but Domination responded with a quick strike to retake the lead. Coots’ interception put the finishing touches on a wild game.
“We switched from a zone to man,” Coots said, explaining the difference between the two games versus Hit Squad. “We played man underneath and two deep over the top. (Hit Squad) didn’t know what to do.”
But in the championship game, Domination got off to a slow start versus the Titans, a team from Springfield, Mo. The Titans won 40-33 in a game that wasn’t as close as the score indicated, giving Domination a second-place finish.