2017 Madden Bowl Day 3: Houston semifinals are set

The final day of the Madden Bowl at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Kissimmee, Florida, in conjunction with Sunday’s Pro Bowl, kicked off Saturday with four participants earning a trip to Houston to play out the remaining semfinals and finals matches at the Super Bowl.

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The first quarterfinal matchup of the day saw the second-place finisher’s from Group A and B, Michael “Skimbo” Skimbo and Shay “Young Kiv” Kivlan, respectively, square off. A bevy of first-half interceptions saw Skimbo down at the half, 13-10, as Young Kiv seemed to have stifled his normally stout aerial attack. But thanks to a bit of good fortune, Skimbo would rally, using a variation of a few plays to throw Young Kiv’s defense out of sync. With the game tied at 20-20 and just under three minutes remaining, Skimbo took control of the game, connecting on a massive pass to Antonio Brown to set up what would amount to a game-winning field goal. He would clinch his trip to Houston moments later, picking off Young Kiv to earn a come-from-behind 23-20 win.

In a battle representing an NFC East rivalry, Chris “Dubby” McFarland from Philadelphia, squared off against Lavar “Mr. Hollywood” Gayle from New York to determine who would be the second person to advance to Houston. Dubby jumped ahead using excellent ball control to grind down the entire first quarter, scoring on a fourth-down quarterback sneak to get the lead. Terrific user defense by Dubby locked down what was a dynamic offense from Mr. Hollywood during the group stages, ending the first half up 10-3. From there, the game was never really in question, as Dubby relied on a combination of solid user defense and ball-control offense to tick down the rest of the clock, securing a surprising 20-13 victory.

In easily the most exciting matchup of the day, the explosive offenses of Eli “Trueboy” Clayton and Zach “Serious Moe” Lane took the field next. Despite a first half filled with uncharacteristic mistakes, Trueboy entered the second half trailing only 17-9. An immediate fourth-down stop to start the pivotal half gave Trueboy an opportunity to get even closer, scoring a touchdown off a nice high-point pass to Larry Fitzgerald. And after recovering a crucial fumble by Serious Moe’s Ricky Williams, Trueboy used a combination of Russell Wilson scrambles and pinpoint passes to score another touchdown, taking a 21-17 lead late in the fourth quarter.

It looked like all hope was lost for Serious Moe to record a comeback victory after he failed to pick up a fourth down attempt with a little over two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, but an interception with just under a minute remaining had him back in business. After a series of plays put Serious Moe in the red zone, the former Madden 2016 Championship quarterfinalist hit Deion Sanders up the seam with seven seconds left for the game-winning touchdown, capping off an incredible game by both competitors.

Day 3 rounded out with a matchup between Reggie “Boogz” Brown and Eric “Problem” Wright. Problem, relying on his typically stout defense and ball-control offense, earned a commanding 10-3 lead at halftime. But it would be Boogz who would answer back, taking advantage of Problem’s user coverage to find a soft spot in the seam and score a game-tying touchdown. Problem would respond, methodically moving the ball down the field using Williams to get within field goal range. Having worked down most of the clock, Problem would kick the go-ahead field goal, leaving Boogz with little time to mount a comeback. A subsequent incomplete pass on fourth down by Boogz would end the game, giving Problem a 13-10 win and a semifinal match in Houston.