More than 600 attend 'Cops and Hawks Bowl', raise thousands for charity

Officers, football players unite to raise money for Backstoppers with football game
(Source: Cape Girardeau PD Twitter)
(Source: Cape Girardeau PD Twitter)
(Source: Cape Girardeau PD Twitter)
(Source: Cape Girardeau PD Twitter)
(Source: KFVS)
(Source: KFVS)

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - More than 600 people were in attendance for the "Cops and Hawks Bowl" flag football game in Cape Girardeau, Missouri on Thursday, July 21.

According to Jeff Honza, Southeast Missouri State Sports Information Director, the game raised $4,500, which was all donated to charity.

In the wake of the shooting in Dallas, Texas that left five police officers dead and seven others wounded, the Southeast Missouri State football team issued a friendly challenge to the Cape Girardeau Police Department.

It all started with a tweet from Redhawks head coach Tom Matukewicz to the Cape Girardeau Police Department on Friday, July 8, just a day after the Dallas ambush.

Hey @CapePolice with what's going on in America right now. How about a flag football game? SEMO football vs the Cops? DM if interested.

— tuke (@CoachTuke) July 8, 2016

Matukewicz challenged officers to a friendly game of flag football, featuring the Redhawks team versus police.

Cape Girardeau Police Chief Wes Blair said he likes the idea and thinks it is a great way to bring the community together during a time when police relations are strained around the country.

"It's so heartbreaking to see so much division across our country," Blair said. "One of the great things about Cape Girardeau is we just don't really experience that here. We've got a great relationship with our community. A lot of it is because of these events and things we like to do with our community."

Southeast Missouri State has approval from the NCAA and the game was played on Thursday, July 21 at 6 p.m at Houck Stadium.

"Coach Tuke" said that this event would not have been possible except for the hard work from the SEMO compliance office.

Rachael Blunt, the SEMO Director of Compliance said it was almost too hard for the NCAA not to approve the game.

"They felt like it was important and it was for such a great cause," said Blunt. "They had a hard time trying to deny something like this."

SEMO head football coach Tom Matukewicz said his players are very excited about the game.

"Being a part of the community, giving back, is a big cornerstone of our program," Coach Tuke said. "And so, they really buy into that, they're excited. I think this is a great opportunity for us to be an example."

Sophomore Quarterback Dante Vandeven echoed his coach's thoughts. He was the player that came up with the idea and didn't intend it to be taken seriously.

"I was like we should just play them in football like play the cops in some football and I really didn't think of it and I thought it was kinda a joke," said Vandeven. "Play the cops in football maybe that would solve it. But actually it turned out to be a really good deal and he like the idea and it turned into a really big event"

The game, which was being called the "Cops and Hawks Bowl," was also a fundraiser. It will benefit a charity called Backstoppers, which provides insurance and financial assistance for a family of a fallen or injured police officer.

The competition took place among four teams, competing in a tournament. In the first two games, the White team defeated the Red team, 22-14, and the Gold team beat the Black team, 31-26. The championship game saw the White team beat the Gold team, 21-20. The Black team defeated the Red team in the consolation game.

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