Florida wins 4th SFL Championship, tops Baltimore 52-39

by Cameron Irvine

The now 4x champion Florida Storm completed Season 21 Saturday with a 52-39 victory over the 5x champion Baltimore Vultures in a battle of sim football dynasties at Zolnier Championship Field in Cincinnati, Ohio. 

Halfback Charlie Biletsky dazzled with 181 yards on the ground and a season-high 148 yards through the air. Ron Cockren became the first quarterback to rush for a touchdown in a SFL Championship and completed 19-of-25 passes for 267 yards and a touchdown. Art Vandelay had his moment in the second half, when he took a kickoff 105 yards for a touchdown - his third kick return touchdown this season in just 11 tries.

Defensively, newcomer Leon Thunderman - the No. 1 pick in the Season 17 draft - won his first title and chipped in three tackles for loss. Adrian Blane knocked down three passes. Andrew Francis and Evan Carroll each nabbed picks off Baltimore quarterback Jack Wigmore, who completed 24-of-44 passes for a season-high 459 pass yards. 

Fullback T-Roy Gaines left the game for the Vultures in the first quarter with a concussion. Receiver Mac Chimah tallied 220 yards on 10 grabs in defeat, while teammate Ivory Ervin caught six passes for 149 yards. Troy Loshaw finished with 10 solo and six assisted tackles. The Vultures didn't manage a single pass deflection in the loss, the franchise's first in a title game.

The total score - 91 - was the most in SFL Championship Game history - topping season 1's 45-41 shootout between New York and Oklahoma City. Florida's 52 points were the most scored in a Championship Game. It was the first SFL Championship played on a true neutral site, although the league rotated Championship hosts up until Season 7.

Florida won three titles as the Alaska Storm in Seasons 10, 11 and 12 and made Championship appearances in Seasons 16 and 17, but fell short - the latter coming against the Vultures. Florida joins Baltimore and Queen City as SFL franchises with at least four championships. For a complete history of SFL Championship Games, click here.