The Zappers took a rather conventional path to the Fan Controlled Football playoffs.
They started the season 0-4, traded Hall of Fame wide receiver Terrell Owens, lost the quarterback they acquired in the deal after he was cut for smoking marijuana on the field, had their franchise player Johnny Manziel for only two games, won their third straight game with an epic comeback and controversial fan ruling, then were victorious in a "Man Up Showdown" tiebreaker to clinch a playoff spot.
It's a tale as old as time.
The Zappers' improbable run to the playoffs capped a truly wild finish in the final week of the regular season for FCF, creating some unexpected Final Four participants.
The semifinals between the Bored Ape FC, 8oki, Shoulda Been Stars and Zappers will be held Saturday. Let's take a look at how we got there with some of the must-see moments from Week 7.
The Zappers’ comeback was part miracle, part fandom and part controversy.
Following a game between 8oki and the Knights of Degen where there were three lead-changing touchdowns in the final 26 seconds, the Zappers and Beasts nearly matched it with three lead-changing touchdowns in the final 49 seconds.
Zappers quarterback Kelly Bryant ran for a 14-yard touchdown run to tie it at 32-32 and then connected with Terrance Williams for the two-point conversion to put the Zappers up 34-32 with 49 seconds left.
The lead lasted four seconds.
On the first play of the ensuing drive, Jordus Smith caught a 40-yard touchdown, his third TD catch of the day from Alphonso Howard, to give the Beasts a 38-34 lead.
An interception thrown by Bryant with 30 seconds remaining seemed to bring an end to the Zappers’ Cinderella run, with their only hope being either a quick four-and-out or a turnover.
Zappers defensive back Qwan’tez Stiggers, after making a tackle, started talking trash with players on the Beasts’ sideline, including team owner Marshawn Lynch. He then came up with a crucial tackle on fourth-and-3 with under 10 seconds remaining that will forever be known as the “invisible tackle” following a controversial replay review. Stiggers seemed to stop Howard on the QB draw short of the first down with a shoestring tackle. But Howard, holding the ball in one hand, spun in the air and hit the ground, losing the ball. It was picked up by defensive lineman Joe Grogan, who returned it 18 yards for the touchdown to give the Zappers a 40-38 lead with four seconds remaining.
It was ruled a fumble and touchdown on the field by the refs, who said Howard was not down by contact. It went to a fan replay review and Zappers fans played a key role in the win by outvoting Beasts fans to confirm the call and uphold the season-saving touchdown.
Isaiah King added a two-point conversion, giving the Zappers a 42-38 lead. The Beasts had one final play to try to win it. The Zappers dropped their defenders downfield and Howard’s throw into the end zone was intercepted by Mike Lee to seal the win.
The win gave the Zappers a 3-4 record after they lost their first four games of the season, placing them in a tie with the Glacier Boyz. That sent the two to a “Man Up Showdown” tiebreaker to determine which of the two teams would claim FCF’s fourth and final playoff spot.
Stiggers came up big again, breaking up the play when matched up against Glacier Boyz wideout Andrew Jamiel, who led the league in receiving touchdowns. Bryant connected with King in Round 2 and James Harden in Round 3 to put the Zappers on the brink of the postseason. With the Glacier Boyz in a must-convert situation to stay alive, defensive back Sam Brown broke up the play to send the Zappers to the playoffs.
2. Big Day for Big Men
Some offensive lineman got to break out their touchdown celebrations on Saturday.
The Zappers’ 285-pound offensive lineman Alex Heil caught a lateral from Terrance Williams at the eight-yard line and ran into the end zone as time expired in the first half.
In what turned out to be a double-handoff play for the Bored Apes, 314-pound lineman Amari Catchings ended up with a rushing touchdown of his own.
3. The Comeback Kidd
The Comeback Kidd struck again.
Mitch Kidd helped 8oki erase a late 10-point deficit and then retake the lead twice over the final 26 seconds.
Kidd connected with Patrick Smith for a 13-yard touchdown and found Malik Elion for the two-point conversion to cut 8oki’s deficit to 22-20 with 1:47 to go.
Using the "Comeback Rule," Kidd hit Joseph Boykin for a 12-yard gain to keep the drive and 8oki's season alive. Malcolm Ballard then put 8oki on top with a two-yard touchdown run with 26 seconds remaining, and Kidd found Smith for the two-point conversion to push the lead to 28-22.
With the Knights using their power play, quarterback Ed Crouch took advantage on the first play of the drive, finding a hole and taking it 40 yards for the touchdown to tie the score at 28-28 with 17 seconds left.
Terrell Owens then made a diving catch on the two-point conversion to give the Knights a 30-28 lead.
On 8oki’s next play, Smith made a 35-yard catch on a pass from Kidd, putting 8oki on the five-yard line with 10 seconds left.
Ballard then rushed in for the go-ahead touchdown with three seconds remaining, and Boykin followed with a catch on the two-pointer for a 36-30 lead.
That sent the two teams to the “Man Up Showdown,” where Smith and Boykin each got wide open on their respective routes and Kidd found them, sending 8oki to the postseason.
4. Season-Saving Scoop-and-Score
With the Glacier Boyz nursing a two-point lead with 24 seconds remaining in a must-win game and the Shoulda Been Stars charging downfield, lineman Maurice Greene came up with a strip sack that was scooped up by Julian Charles, who returned it 21 yards for the touchdown to all but seal the win.
That extended the season for the Glacier Boyz for a few more hours before they fell in the “Man Up Showdown” to the Zappers.
5. All-Pro Team
Terrell Owens was joined by some fellow All-Pros on Saturday…
Watch Fan Controlled Football every Saturday on NBCLX over the air, on cable, at LX.com and on your favorite streaming platform.