Last Modified: Friday, June 15, 2012 8:31 PM
Doing things the easy way just doesn’t fit into this year’s Swashbucklers.
Instead, they have taken the hard road back to the playoffs. Yet, with two weeks left in the regular season, the club’s first goal has been reached.
The Bucs half earned and half backed into their guaranteed playoff spot Saturday night. Their come-from-behind win over Columbus (61-57) was just part of the story.
When Alabama lost to Richmond, the Swashbucklers were safely back in the playoffs. Now they are hoping for better things.
At 5-5 the Bucs aren’t looking to limb into the postseason, they want to ram their way with a solid winning streak. Two weeks ago they were just 3-5 and talk of the playoffs was at best premature.
“We just have to play better down the stretch and make a run,” head coach Darnell Lee said at the time.
He was right.
Two comeback wins in the closing moments have followed, and now the Bucs can even think about taking the next step.
With the fourth and final seed secure, the Bucs are tied with Columbus but behind in the tiebreaker. Still, with two games against 2-8 Alabama, whom they have already beaten this year, and Columbus playing Richmond (currently the second seed) hope of a third seed is alive and well.
“We want to play the best we can and let the rest take care of itself,” quarterback Freddy Harrison said a week earlier.
He went on to add, “our season rests in our hands.”
Now maybe more than ever.
However, if Saturday night is any indication, those hands are still more than a little shaky.
The Swashbuckers won despite giving up 294 yards in the air to Columbus quarterback Randy Hippeard, including eight touchdowns.
Then there were the Buc blunders, which included three missed field goals, 11 penalties for 53 yards and a TD called back by a holding call.
“We like to do things the hard way,” said defensive back Damian Huren. “It has been that way all year.”
That is a fact.
The Swashbucklers have struggled with giving up big plays, kicks missed at key times and penalties. It has hardly been a perfect season.
That has led to some exciting games. Take away their first game against Knoxville (61-28) and the average margin of victory in the other four Buc wins is 3.7, with a pair of those coming by just two points.
If you like to look at the glass as half full, then you can say the Swashbucklers were able to rally when they had to.
“We find a way to win,” said Huran. “That’s all that matters.”
And now the Bucs can think about what really counts, finishing strong for the playoffs.
Odds are they won’t find it any easier.