Madison opens up season with last second loss to Pittsburgh

Ryan Baker

A buzzer beating huck to a triple teamed Max Sheppard was what put the nail in the coffin for the Madison Radicals on their season opener.

On April 29, the Radicals traveled to Pittsburgh to commence the 2023 season to play the Thunderbirds. Madison suffered a heartbreaking 17-18 loss that came down to the final play. 

Coming out the first quarter, the Radicals were down 4-6 and needed to string together some breaks to close the gap. After dropping the first point in the second quarter, Madison strung together three straight points to tie the game. 

That brought on trading points with Pittsburgh all the way to half by a score of 10-10. The Radicals took the lead out of halftime compliments of a 61-yard huck from Ted Schewe to Avery Johnson. Head coach Tim DeByl knew his team came out slow, but got their feet under them with the halftime comeback.

“I think they had more energy than us at the start of the game. You know, home opener. We're on the bus for two days. I think that they took it to us early on, said DeByl. “I really liked how we recovered, and I felt like we were winning the energy war going into half. I felt like we were stable and that we were going to be in good shape.”

The fourth quarter carried all the drama, only six total points were played because of a near eight minute d-line point. The long drawn out point resulted in a break that ended with a 66-yard huck from Victor Luo to Jake Wham..

After having a chance to seal the game with another break close to the endzone, the Radical offense faltered and gave up the hold instead. With 46 seconds left, the Thunderbirds moved it to midfield to let off a buzzer beating huck. Max Sheppard was heavily guarded downfield, but still was able to come down with the game winning goal.

“I thought we played the final play pretty well and we had a three on one in the endzone, and Sheppard’s just a great player and made a play against three of our guys,” said DeByl.

DeByl had to rely on some more uncommon names due to a knee injury that Jack Nelson went down with. Not to mention Luo, Henry Goldenberg and Kelsen Alexander were all banged up during the game as well. Two names that stood out were Kai DeLorezno, who played the most points with 20 and Anthony Gutwosky, who tied for the second-most with 19. 

These guys are going to have to up their game due to the injury questions that are circling the team. DeLorzeno understands the potential that the Radicals have, but also sees where improvements need to be made.

"I think we showed that we have the ability to play really well. We were able to go get a few blocks, and we were able to score a bunch of points. But we weren't able to execute throughout the whole game,” said DeLorezno.

The Radicals have until May 20 to fine tune the little things and get everyone fully healthy when they are slated to travel to Indianapolis to take on the AlleyCats.