Daily Limit: Nervy to nerve-wracking

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Steve Bowman
Dean Rojas celebrates his last-minute catch to win his match on Wednesday

After Down-and-Out Dean turned into Rallying Rojas, Koby Kreiger and Jacob Powroznik landed in the Twilight Zone.

It was a fantastic finish before frantic frustration. Yeah, another f word comes to mind for the day, followed by screaming “Yeah!” then “Nooooo!”

Tommy Sanders opened the Classic Bracket coverage on Bassmaster LIVE Tuesday with Monty Python’s iconic segway, “And now for something completely different.”

Nailed that.

Day 1 wasn’t exactly normal for the eight pros fishing head-to-head matches, but it wasn't too strange. On Day 2, half the deal went over the falls. There was sensation then joy, although one was agonizingly close to disaster.

Kevin VanDam and Brett Hite were the steady hands, easily winning their matches. They even had time to practice for Thursday’s semifinals.

The other three-hour matches ended in intrigue. Dean Rojas, in the morning match opposite Hite, couldn’t get much going early against Jordan Lee, who also struggled. Rojas trailed by 5 pounds and was pretty much left for dead, but 13 minutes before time ran out, he showed life with a 3-pound, 3-ounce fish.

LIVE stayed on him, and 10 minutes later, Rojas hooked into another. Rojas had victory tugging on the end of his line.   

“Feels good. Oh yeah,” he said. “That’s a 2-pounder. Here we go. Gotta love this format, man. Last couple minutes … You’re my ticket (to) tomorrow.”

Catching the potential winner turned a slow morning to excitement. Rojas leaned over and grabbed the fish that would send him past Lee and into the semifinals.

“Read me the weight, Tripper,” he coolly said to Trip Weldon, even though he was shaking.

Rojas needed 1-13 … and surpassed that by a pound.

“Yeah, Niagara bass,” Rojas said, kissing the fish then releasing it a minute before time ran out. “I love this format. Love it.”

That thrilling conclusion gave way to a torturous wait during the Kreiger/Powroznik match. In a selfless act to help his Elite roommate try to qualify for his second Classic, Powroznik, well within the Toyota Angler of the Year cut, said he’d let Kreiger win. Trouble was, his fishing instincts kicked in and he caught fish, including one in the final two minutes Tuesday to lead their match by a pound.

Powroznik hoped to simply avert that problem by not fishing Wednesday. Kreiger just needed one fish, weighing 1-1, and he moves on. Simple in theory, right?

That fish, even a bite, eluded Kreiger for some time, and Poworznik was nearby watching. For the first half hour, nothing. Then an hour. At the halfway point, the tension ramped up. The plan was backfiring, and both men were sweating it.

Kreiger didn’t have a single bite in the first two hours. The handoff was being fumbled; the baton falling to the track; the final pitch of an intentional walk swung at and missed. It was uncomfortable. Tense. Ugly.

They tried different locations, and Powroznik even sent some advice Kreiger’s way. Their frustrations showed when Kreiger did hook up -- only to lose it. Both men threw their arms over their heads.

Could he really go all three hours and not land one 1-1 bass?

Moments after the miss, Kreiger hooked his white whale, and got it in the boat. He said it was the most relieved he’s ever been catching a measly 1-7.

Letting out an afternoon of frustrations, Kreiger screamed: “Thank you, Lord! And thank you, Jacob Powroznik!”

But not before getting in one actually devious joke, hollering over to Powroznik that the fish weighed “15 ounces … just kidding -- 1-7.”

Kreiger meets VanDam in Thursday’s six-hour semifinal (LIVE coverage begins at 8:15 a.m. ET on Bassmaster.com), and it’s certain he’ll be given no quarter. And they’ll be hard-pressed to top Wednesday’s drama.