Aviators top Wild Mavs 17-13 in First Round of Mickey Mouse Athletics Playoffs
Ben Ali Gator and the Wild Mavericks offense was held in check Saturday night after getting their first winning season in franchise history. It was the defense that led by the Herb and Honker Muddlefoot to a breakthrough victory.
Panchito Pistoles threw for 213 yards and a touchdown, Ellsworth caught 11 passes for 113 yards and the Aviators edged the Wild Mavs 17-13 to win their first postseason game in franchise history.
The Aviators usually prolific offense struggled against the Wild Mavs secondary, but the consistent Pistoles-to-Ellsworth connection and a stingy defense was enough to help the Aviators (8-5) to their first playoff win after posting the best regular season turnaround in sports history.
The Wild Mavericks (6-7) were driving late in the game when Fantasia Star quarterback Ben Ali Gator tried to scramble on fourth down and was stopped a few yards short of the marker with 52 seconds left. Defensive lineman Herb Muddlefoot made the shoestring tackle for the Aviators and finished with a team-leading 12 tackles, 3 sacks and 1 interception.
"That was a good one," Herb told the press afterwards. "Our guys stepped up with a minute to go. I thought we were going to need my best friend Darkwing Duck late in the game, but we played solid and made plays."
It was the second straight week and fourth time the two teams played each other this season. The Aviators winning three of them.
Both teams had clinched playoffs berths before the final week of the season, but as bad as the 2015 season was, both teams wanted 2016 to be much better.
The Aviators defensive unit had pressured Ben Ali into making a few mistakes in their previous matchup, but once Herb Muddlefoot started talking about Quackerware products the Wild Mavs offensive line became so confused that the Salesman of the Year had a straight path to the quarterback.
"Like the hundred legs on a centipede, we move forward in a great stampede, even the other guys must concede, Quackerware salesmen are a special breed," Herb answered to where his fiery inspiration had come from.
The Aviators offense was dominant during the last half of the regular season, averaging more than 31 points in their last four games.
But the Muddlefoot family stepped up while the offense slowly warmed up.
The Wild Mavericks took a 7-0 lead on Horace Horsecollar's 46-yard touchdown run and the margin could have been worse, but Herb picked off a tipped pass in the end zone to end a promising drive for the Mavs.
Jose Carioca rushed for a tying 10-yard touchdown with 5:40 remaining in the second quarter, and then Pistoles hit Ellsworth for a 31-yard touchdown minutes later to make it 14-7.
The Mavs responded with a 42-yard field goal by Yo Yo Flamingo just before halftime. Both teams made field goals in the third quarter, but no points were scored in the fourth.
The Wild Mavs put together one last drive in the final minutes, with Ben Ali Gator completing a clutch 15-yard pass over the middle on fourth down with less than two minutes remaining. He was headed for another fourth-down conversion just four plays later, but was tripped up on a scramble deep in Aviators territory. The blue and gray sideline began to celebrate.
It was a disappointing end to an otherwise breakthrough season for the Wild Mavericks, which set a franchise record with six victories, including a four-game winning streak. But they dropped two of their last three regular season games including losses to the Aviators and the defending champions.
One reason Wild Mavs we're able to win six games was a dynamic rushing attack from Ferdinand the Bull and Horace Horsecollar. Along with Ben Ali Gator, the trio averaged over 180 rushing yards per game. But despite running for 200 yards, the majority of it came on Horace's 46-yard touchdown.
Horace, who came on late in the year with 116 yards on 15 carries last week, led the Mavs in rushing again with 77 yards on nine carries, while Ferdinand added 68 yards on 20 carries.
This wasn't one of his most spectacular appearances, but he was consistent enough to move the Aviators onto the second round to face the winner of Black Magic and Goof Troops.