by Ashton Robinson Cook

Oklahoma Thunder throttle Middle Tennessee for its third consecutive title

Birmingham, Alabama-The 5th seeded Oklahoma Thunder won it’s GDFL Gridiron Bowl IX in thrilling fashion this past Saturday, beating the top-seeded Middle Tennessee Bulldawgs 38-15.  The game, held in Birmingham, Alabama, was the GDFL’s 9th national championship game, with the Thunder claiming four of those titles dating back to 2013.  
A dominating performance by the Thunder offense broke the game open in the 2nd quarter, with the team outscoring Middle Tennessee 25-6 in about 10 minutes of game play.  Standout QB Brandon Noohi threw touchdown passes of 24 and 29 yards and WR DJ Dempsey added a 13-yard TD run during the scoring outburst.    Noohi went on to finish 12/18 passing with 229 yards and 4 touchdowns.  Meanwhile, the offensive line, led by standout OT Brandon “Rhino” Brown, paved the way for a dominating statline for the Thunder ground game.  The unit averaged a lofty 7.3 yards per rush and amassed 175 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns while allowing no sacks.  “Coming into the championship game the same rules applied: keep [QB Brandon] Noohi upright and get our running backs to the second level…” Brown described of the performance.  “It helps to have a smart coach like Coach Lowe… he has literally taken us all over the country to beat the best of the best.”  
The Thunder defense continued it’s dominating ways, containing a strong offensive unit while only allowing 202 yards of total offense.   Standouts BJ Hodshire was critical to the run defense, which forced three fumbles while holding a normally strong Middle Tennessee to only 19 rushing yards on 20 attempts.  DT Calvin Barnett also had two sacks, and S DJ Wolfe also added a key interception.  The 15 points scored by Middle Tennessee were the only offensive points surrendered by the defense throughout the postseason.

 “Middle Tennessee has some good, explosive players,” Thunder Head Coach Rashid Lowe explained.  “We knew we had to contain their QB and running game.  We also developed a plan to figure out how to run the ball and that opened up our entire offense.  We prepared all season like no other team out there, and that preparation created separation.”

  With the victory, the Thunder organization now claims 7 national and world championships in its 10-year existence.   It’s three consecutive national titles are the most ever by a GDFL team, although the victories didn’t come without any challenges.  “We probably had the most adversity we’ve ever had in the last 10 seasons, especially early on,” said, co-owner Tracey Flemons.  “Personally, I dedicated this year to my mom, who lost her battle with cancer.  She loved the team and would personally call after games to see how we did and check on the players if she couldn’t attend in person.  The way we overcame the adversity – that’s the reason why of all of our titles, this one is the most special to me.  I think the rest of the [Thunder] ownership group and team feel the same way.”