by Charles Thompson

“Defense wins championships…”
Thunder defense propels team to their fifth national title…
Tulsa, Oklahoma
September 3, 2016

The Oklahoma Thunder completed their quest for the GDFL National Championship Saturday night at Holland Hall, defeating the Nashville Storm 29-16. The Storm were defending champions of the 2015 league title and were unbeaten in the regular season dating back to 2014. The victory represents the first national title for the Thunder since 2013 and 5th national championship overall.

#44 Gus Jones loses helmet

The Thunder defense proved dominant for much of the contest, scoring a defensive touchdown in the third quarter while limiting Nashville’s vaunted rushing attack to just 28 yards on 29 rushing attempts. Nashville abandoned the run in much of the second half, and failed to convert on several scoring opportunities deep in Thunder territory despite gaining 287 yards passing in the contest. Nashville was also forced into 4 turnovers and 6 sacks during the contest.

The defense sparked a series of plays that quickly changed momentum in the third quarter. With the Thunder clinging to a 15-14 lead, Nashville blocked a punt that set their offense up with a red zone scoring opportunity at the Thunder 7. After two negative rushing attempts stopped by LB Dewitt Jennings, CB Shad Scarborough made a pivotal interception to end Nashville’s scoring threat. QB Brandon Noohi then promptly hit WRs Ryan Gallimore and Rodrick Brown for consecutive 70-yard and 20-yard completions, and RB Josh Birmingham completed the 5 play, 88 yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 22-14. The defense then forced two additional turnovers on consecutive possessions, converting one of them directly into a touchdown on a 32-yard interception return by standout LB Shawn Jackson, who was voted the MVP for the game. That play extended the lead to 29-14 and prompted celebrations from Thunder fans and players as victory became imminent.

Gridiron Bowl VII MVP #52LB Shawn Jackson

“Hats off to a great team and coaching staff in Nashville,” explained Head Coach Jeff Bigger. “They prepared extremely well. But our players did an excellent job of preparing and executing particularly on defense. I’m so proud of these guys.”

Standout Garrett Berger also lauded the defense, explaining that “great coaching adjustments helped us shut them out in the second half. At the end of the day we are the best defense in the nation, with playmakers at every position.”

With the season coming to a close, the team  has already begun preparations for an upcoming awards banquet and preparations for the 2017 season. Keep abreast of the latest by following us on Facebook by searching for “Oklahoma Thunder Football Team” and by visiting www.gdfl.org.