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Seven sports moments I’ll never forget

Andrea Pirlo chips in a penalty shot against England in the 2012 Euro Cup

Since he was never a top scoring option, Andrea Pirlo was never in the discussion of being the best soccer player in the world, but he was masterful at what he did. Pirlo was about as perfect as they come at being a facilitating central midfielder. His team’s offense always ran through him and he would pick the perfect set-up pass to make. In the 2012 European Cup, Pirlo showed just how great of a decision-maker he is, and how crafty he is. Facing England in the quarterfinals, the two powerhouses went to penalty kicks. Pirlo was third in line and needed to make his penalty kick to re-tie the shootout at 2-2. He lined up, ran to the ball and simply chipped the ball right down the center past Joe Hart. Italy went on to win the shootout, 4-2.

Sorrentine from the parking lot

March Madness is all about the underdog and in 2005 the Vermont Catamounts took down the fourth-seeded Syracuse Orange, only a few years after they had cut down the nets. Vermont had a very veteran squad and was the dominant force in the America East, but still to this day, TJ Sorrentine’s shot to put Vermont up by four with a minute left in overtime is one of the most impressive shots I’ve ever seen in the Big Dance. Sorrentine was left all alone nearly 30 feet out. His coach Tom Brennan called it “one of the worst shots in the history of college basketball,” seeing his point guard rise up from that far away with time left on the shock clock. But it went in and immediately made it one of the most beautiful shots there have been. I ended up going to an America East school (got UMBC Retrievers…and trust me, they’ll get their mention in a bit) a few years later, so the America East school taking down the giant probably holds a little bit more of a special place in my memory, but it is still a shot I love to look up every year right before the NCAA Tournament starts.

Lezak’s comeback

In 2008, Michael Phelps made history by winning eight golden medals in one Olympic games, but to win that many he couldn’t do it by himself. The most impressive victory on his way to setting the new record was the team’s win in the 4×100 meter freestyle relay. France was the favorite going into the race and made it known their goal was to beat the Americans. Heading into the final leg it looked like the French team was going to win, and after the turn, Alain Bernard, the world-record holder in the 100-meter freestyle at the time, looked like he was going to pull it off to take the gold. But Jason Lezak, not Phelps himself, swam and absolutely perfect final leg. He was hugging the lane line and dragging Bernard. He still trailed by half a body length at the very end, but he put his head down and arms forward and surged to the wall. With a photo finish, it proved that Lezak won by 0.08 of a second.

The Helmet Catch

Everything about The Helmet Catch is pretty remarkable. Just look from the start of the play, Patriots defensive end Jarvis Green has Eli Manning’s jersey in his grasp and looks like he is going to take him to the ground on third and five. But, somehow, Manning escapes and rolls out. He wass still facing massive pressure so all he can do is wing it down the field and hope for the best. Well, it turned out pretty amazing. David Tyree, perhaps the most unlikely of last resort options on the Giants, caught the ball, pinned it to his helmet and came down. Rodney Harrison, perhaps the best defensive back the Patriots had, couldn’t do anything to get the ball loose. The play was not the winning play, but it was a 32-yard gain that got the Giants down to the 24 yard line and ended up leading the a Manning to Plaxico Burress touchdown pass for perhaps the greatest Super Bowl upset in history with the Giants giving the Patriots their first loss of the season.

The Statue of Liberty to Win the Fiesta Bowl

Boise State stunned the college football world when they pulled off the Statue of Liberty in overtime to score the game-winning two-point conversion to beat Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. The Oklahoma Sooners were led by star running back Adrian Peterson. The Broncos jumped out to a big lead in the game but saw their powerful Big 12 opponents rally back to take a 35-28 lead with just over a minute left in the fourth quarter. The hook and later to tie the game with seven seconds left was amazing in itself. So was the halfback pass for a touchdown in overtime to match Peterson’s score for the Sooners. After the Broncos tie the game in overtime they made the gutsy decision to go for the victory with a two-point conversion. That winning play will never be forgotten. Jared Zabransky dropped back with the ball in his hands. He had nothing in his right hand when he faked the throw. Instead, the ball was in his left hand, which he tucked behind his back for running back Ian Johnson to grab. He ran into the corner of the endzone with nobody around him. The Broncos were the undefeated mid-major darling and while they never got their chance to play for the national championship, they certainly proved they belonged with the incredible upset.

Vince Young runs to the corner to win the national championship

To this date, the 2006 Rose Bowl still stands as the greatest college football national championship game there has ever been. The USC Trojans dynasty was taking on the powerhouse Texas Longhorns. The number of stars and future pros in this game was incredible, but the battle was between three Heisman Trophy finalists. USC had the last two winners on their side, running back Reggie Bush and quarterback Matt Leinart, but it was that year’s runner up who made the biggest play in the biggest moment to win the biggest prize. Facing a fourth and five with only 26 seconds left and his Longhorns trailing 38-33, Young dropped back looking for a pass, but when faced with pressure he tucked the ball and bolted for the right corner of the endzone. Young ran past the entire Trojan defense and made it past the pylon to score the game-winning touchdown.

U Must Be Cinderella

My freshman year of college at UMBC I joined the student newspaper and somehow, someway, I as a freshman got to beat to cover the men’s basketball team. That year, UMBC won their first-ever America East Championship and went to the NCAA Tournament to face Georgetown. It was a tremendous moment and a blast. And after that, I was hooked. Even after I graduated, I still watched and followed UMBC, even continuing to cover them for my own website So Much Sports Baltimore. The program fell into some dark years, having single-digit win seasons, but I still loved going to their games and covering them. I covered that team for over ten years until eventually, I had to move on from sports writing in 2017. It’s kind of funny to me that the year after I stopped being a sports writer covering teams was the year UMBC pulled off the greatest upset in NCAA Tournament history, being the first-ever No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 seed in the men’s NCAA tournament, so I wasn’t able to be there on press row or in the press conferences and interviewing everybody. But at the same time, by stepping back from sports as a beat writer, I was able to sit back and watch as a fan. Ten years before that I don’t really know if I got to enjoy the Retrievers beating Hartford in the AEC title game and going on to play Georgetown as much as I could have because I was so busy working while they were playing. But when they pulled off the miracle, I was just a fan of my alma mater, able to cheer loud and celebrate.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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