We discovered that early on in the Xbox EA Sports NCAA Football competition when the defending champion, defensive tackle Devon Still, was bounced in the first round by recently graduated offensive tackle Nerraw McCormack.
That cleared the way for McCormack to make a run to the final, where he lost to wideout Derek Moye. The thing is, Moye also knocked McCormack out a year ago, but in that tournament they met in the second round.
He eliminated me last year, and he eliminated me this year, too, McCormack said with a smile after the final.
PSU Uplifting Athletes holds the tournament to help draw attention to Global Rare Disease Day. UA's primary event each year is the mid-summer Lift For Life Challenge, where the goal is to raise as much money as possible for the fight against kidney cancer. The video tournament is a little different.
Because today is Global Rare Disease Day, our big thing is raising awareness and getting it known nationally, said receiver Brett Brackett, the local chapter president of Uplifting Athletes.
Though the tournament is for a good cause, the participants take it seriously when they are in action. As McCormack explained, You get really intense. The closer the game, the more you get into it.
There is considerable yapping back and forth between certain competitors, but the players do take into account the fact that many families are in the audience.
I had to limit myself with the trash-talking due to everyone being around, McCormack said.
The athletes also have fun after they play. Once he was bounced, Still stuck around and rooted for fellow defensive tackle James Terry to beat McCormack. When McCormack prevailed to advance to the title match, Still switched his allegiance to Moye.
I don't want [McCormack] to win because he beat me, Still said.
The tournament consisted of eight men, and in the first round Moye beat receiver Ryan Scherer (17-10), cornerback D'Anton Lynn beat tight end Brennan Coakley (30-27 in overtime), Terry beat running back Stephfon Green (21-14) and, of course, McCormack beat Still.
Playing as Ohio State, Still trailed 10-7 late in the fourth quarter when he drove inside the 5-yard line. Still was out of timeouts. McCormack, playing as Penn State, went to a Cover 2 defense with the middle linebacker spying Buckeye quarterback Terrelle Pryor. Still called a QB scramble, and the linebacker slammed Pryor to the turf at the 2-yard line.
Time ran out as Still tried to call one final play.
I had terrible time management, Still said.
Moye crushed Lynn (21-3) in the second round while McCormack rallied to beat Terry (31-17).
James was blowing him out, Still said. I don't know what happened. I guess James got tired or something, because when I turned around, Nerraw was winning.
I jumped on him the first half, Terry said. Second half, I fell off and he capitalized.
In the final, Moye played as Texas and Still played as Oklahoma. Ironically, Moye gained the edge with a superior defensive end (Sergio Kindle) who dominated the Sooners' left offensive tackle. An offensive tackle himself, McCormack was especially frustrated.
I couldn't stop his defensive end, McCormack said. His defensive end was just running around my tackle. I tried to chip him with a running back -- it didn't work. I tried to put my tight end on his side -- it didn't work. He just had a better game plan than me.
He was kind of mad because [Kindle] kept blitzing and he couldn't stop it, Moye said. He said the game was cheating for me. But it's an excuse.
Unfortunately for Moye, that's where his run ended. After the PSU tournament, he was entered into an online tourney featuring the winners of similar events at Georgia, Ohio State, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. Moye was paired with Bulldog receiver Rhett McGowan, and fell 28-10. McGowan went on to win the team-vs.-team tournament.
Moye had to change from Texas to Penn State for that matchup, and as such had to alter his strategy because in the game, he said, the Nittany Lion defensive ends are not as effective as their Longhorn counterparts. With a poor pass rush, he was picked apart.
Moye felt bad about losing, but took solace in the fact that he now holds the title of champion at Penn State. And he was especially happy to pitch in considering the motivation behind the event.
It's a good thing any time you can do something for a good cause and have fun doing it, he said. I had a good time today, and I think everyone else did, too.
Brackett said the tournament is all but assured of returning in 2011, and Moye promised to defend his crown. When reminded that such a strategy did not work so well for the 2009 champ, Moye laughed.
But last year was a fluke, he said. This year isn't.