No. 8 Missouri Thunder ride to upset victory in the first Last Chance Game to eliminate the No. 6 Carolina Cowboys and No. 7 Nashville Stampede
LAS VEGAS – The opening night of competition for the 2023 PBR (Professional Bul Riders) Camping World Teams Championship kept fans on the edge of their seats inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, as the No. 5 Arizona Ridge Riders and No. 4 Oklahoma Freedom rode to walk-off wins, advancing to the second-round of the tournament outright alongside the No. 3 Texas Rattlers, while the No. 8 Missouri Thunder stunned in the first Last Chance Game to keep their title hopes alive.
The second iteration of the league’s progressive elimination tournament began with back-to-back games won in walk-off fashion.
Competition inside T-Mobile Arena began with a showdown between the regular-season No. 5 Arizona Ridge Riders and No. 6 Carolina Cowboys.
The game began in electric fashion as both teams converted in the first, with 2016 PBR World Champion Cooper Davis successful for Carolina and Chase Dougherty making the whistle for Arizona, giving the Cowboys a slim 5.75-point lead entering the second. Arizona took the lead in the bottom of the second by 79.75 points as Eduardo Aparecido logged his fifth qualified ride in as many attempts in the post season on the spurs of a Josh Frost buckoff for Carolina.
In the third, 2022 PBR World Champion Daylon Swearingen made a triumphant return, posting a game-best 88.75-point ride to give Carolina back the lead by 9 points. Their lead, however, was erased in the bottom of the fourth by Luciano de Castro, setting up a must-ride situation for Carolina in the top of the fifth. Seven-time PRCA champion Sage Steele Kimzey delivered under pressure for the Cowboys, making the 8 aboard Black Ice to give his team back a 10-point lead and force Arizona into a must-ride position. Under the bright lights of Las Vegas, Ridge Riders closer Keyshawn Whitehorse delivered his team the walk-off win by 78.5 points as he dominated Twisted Feather, with the final scoreboard reading an Arizona win, 344-265.5.
“The team put all of us in a position to win, and my job was to finish it,” Whitehorse said.
Via the win the Ridge Riders advanced to the second round of the tournament on Saturday, Oct. 22 where they will play the No. 2 Kansas City Outlaws, while the Carolina Cowboys took the first slot in the night’s last chance game.
The thrilling competition then continued in the second game as the No. 4 Oklahoma Freedom faced off against the No. 7 and league’s reigning Champion Nashville Stampede in a familiar post season showdown. The two teams had also squared off in the opening round of the 2022 PBR Teams Championship. In the most hotly contested game of the night, with the lead changing six times, the Freedom won the game in walk-off form by a slim 0.5 points with the final scoreboard reading 262-261.5.
After Alan de Souza gave Nashville an 85.75-point lead in the top of the first, Oklahoma overtook the lead by 2.5 points in the bottom of the frame as Elizmar Jeremias covered Fierce’s Dirt Nap for 88.25 points. Following a scoreless second, Ednelio Almeida returned Nashville to the top of the leaderboard by 85 points as he teamed with Midnight Magic for an 87.5-point ride. The game lead then changed hands for the fourth time in the bottom of the fourth, as Salgado put Oklahoma out front by 2.5 points compliments of an 87.5-point ride aboard July.
The score then forced a must-ride situation for Nashville in the top of the fifth. In the high-pressure situation was three-time PBR World Champion Silvano Alves tasked with Falcon Eddie by Nashville’s Head Coach Justin McBride. A poised Alves reached the 8 with ease, awarded 88.25 points to give Nashville an 85.75-point lead.
The game then came down to Oklahoma’s closer Caden Bunch atop Spooky. Unphased, Bunch nodded with confidence, converting for his team when it mattered most. Marked a crucial 86.25 points, Bunch’s 8-second effort was enough to deliver Oklahoma the walk-off win.
Oklahoma advanced to the second night of the tournament, while the Nashville Stampede turned to the first last chance game to keep their hopes of a back-to-back championship alive.
The final head-to-head game featured the No. 3 Texas Rattlers against the No. 8 Missouri Thunder. Riding to the game lead in the bottom of the first courtesy of a game-best score from Joao Ricardo Viera, Texas never looked back, clinching the game win early, and ultimately defeating Missouri by one ride score, 174-84.5.
The victory, Texas’ fourth consecutive in league play, punched their ticket to the next round of the Teams Championship, where they will play the No. 3 Oklahoma Freedom, while the loss sent Missouri to the first Last Chance Game.
With just a short window to reset, the Missouri Thunder quickly returned to the arena as they faced off against the No. 6 Carolina Cowboys and No. 7 Nashville Stampede in the tournament’s first Last Chance Game.
While the three-way showdown came down to the final outs, it was early scores from Missouri’s Furlan and Kade Madsen which proved enough to carry them to victory, ultimately upsetting both Carolina and Nashville by one ride score and eliminating them from the season-ending event.
Courtesy of the crucial win, the No. 8 Missouri Thunder kept their title hopes alive, next set to take on the No. 1 Austin Gamblers in a David vs. Goliath showdown.
#PBR #Rodeo #TeamChampionship #LasVegas #BullRiders #Competition #WalkOffWins #TitleHopes #ThrillingAction #2023Championship
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