Henry “Henry” Leverette’s first collapse in the closing seconds cost him a bye in the Madden NFL 20 Bowl. His second cost him his tournament.
Trailing 10-3 with less than 25 seconds to play, Dwayne “CleffTheGod” Wood scored on a 7-yard Michael Vick scramble to tie the game, then returned an interception 35 yards for a touchdown on the next play from scrimmage — with 13 seconds left in the game — to stun Henry 17-10 in the Madden Bowl wild-card round Thursday.
“I’m overcome with emotion,” CleffTheGod, a 24-year-old from Oak Hill, Fla., said after the game. “I needed that (to quiet the doubters) after being terrible in groups.”
Henry, the Madden NFL 20 Classic runner-up who finished second in Group D, dominated play throughout the game Thursday, taking a 10-0 lead into halftime
However, just as in his previous game, the 17-year-old from Braidwood, Ill., was unable to prevent a dramatic finish from his opponent. Playing for first place in Group D and a bye into the quarterfinals, Henry squibbed a kickoff after tying the game with two seconds to play, and Daniel “Dcroft” Mycroft returned it 70 yards for a walk-off touchdown.
“When you’re down 10-0, you’re never going to get that back in one play,” CleffTheGod, the third-place finisher in Group C, said of his philosophy in the second half.
The $220,000 event, forced online this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, began last week with 16 players competing in a round-robin group stage.
The top player in each of the four groups advanced to the quarterfinals, with the second- and third-place finishers from each group moving into the wild-card round.
Thursday opened with the day’s biggest blowout, as Ellicott City, Md.’s, Noah “Noah” Johnson throttled 21-year-old Wesley “Wesley” Gittens of Harem, Ga.
Noah, 17, scored on a 70-yard run by Bo Jackson on the game’s first play from scrimmage and never looked back, taking a 24-0 lead at the half and cruising to a 27-7 win. The seedings held in that game, as well, as Noah entered as the second-place finisher in Group C and Wesley finished third in Group D.
After CleffTheGod’s dramatic win, Pavan “Pavan” Lakhat and Jordan “Millz” Thompson played in perhaps the day’s most competitive game from start to finish. It was the only one of the four in which both teams scored in the first half (Pavan led 10-7) and stayed close to the end. Ultimately, Pavan, a 19-year-old from Yuba City, Calif., held on for a 17-10 win over Millz, a 28-year-old from Dallas.
Holding on to win is nothing new for Pavan, the Madden NFL 19 Club Championship winner who earned the final spot out of the Last Chance Qualifier by winning a pair of do-or-die games in late April.
In the final game of the day, the wild-card round’s biggest star made arguably the day’s biggest statement.
Defending Madden Bowl champion Drini “Drini” Gjoka was the third player of the day to hold his teammate scoreless in the first half, but the only one to do it in the second half, as well. The 20-year-old from Washington, D.C., ended the day with a 16-0 win over Madden NFL 20 Club Championship winner Michael “VoLTeRaX” Bryant, a 22-year-old from Williamstown, Mass.
Up next are the quarterfinals Friday: four matches, each pitting a group winner against a wild-card winner. The quarterfinals will run 5-9 p.m. ET. The semifinals and final will be air live Saturday from 5-9 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
All matches are available for streaming on the EA Sports’ Twitch and YouTube channels plus the ESPN app.
Madden NFL 20 Bowl quarterfinal matchups
Raidel “Joke” Brito (Group A winner) vs. Drini “Drini” Gjoka
Shay “Young Kiv” Kivlen (Group B winner) vs. Pavan “Pavan” Lakhat
Justin “Lil Man” Barone (Group C winner) vs. Dwayne “CleffTheGod” Wood
Daniel “Dcroft” Mycroft (Group D winner) vs. Noah “Noah” Johnson
Madden NFL 20 Bowl prize pool
9-12. $7,500 — Henry “Henry” Leverette, Wesley “Wesley” Gittens, Jordan “Millz” Thompson, Michael “VoLTeRaX” Bryant
13-16. $5,000 — Reginald “Boogz” Brown, Zack “Serious Moe” Lane, Mark “Schemin” Samuels Jr., Daniel “Rage” Loftin
—Field Level Media