Volume 12 Week 5

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NCAFA Bantam Football
Mistakes, miscues cost Cumberland Panthers
B-Cup championship

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Cumberland Panthers wide receiver Ben Raymond looks for an opening while returning a kick-off against the Bell Warriors in the NCAFA B-Cup Championship on Saturday. Fred Sherwin/Photo


Mistakes and missed opportunities were the order of the day for the Cumberland Panthers on Saturday as they fell short in their bid to win the NCAFA B-Cup championship against the Bell Warriors.

The first indication that it wasn't going to be the Panthers day came fairly early in the game when they were called for going offside on a Warriors field goal attempt that hit the upright.

The penalty would give the Warriors a new set of downs and they took full advantage of the opportunity, scoring two plays later on a quarterback keeper by Josh Keenan.

After missing the extra point after the touchdown, the Warriors would earn a single in the second quarter on a long punt by Bobby Godfrey that eluded the Cumberland return man and rolled out the back of the end zone. It would the first of several kicks that the Panthers would misplay by not setting their return men up deep enough given the blustery conditions.

The Panthers finally got on the scoreboard midway through the second quarter when Miguel Olivier blasted a 42 yard punt through the back of the end zone.

Two series later, Cumberland committed their first of several turnovers on the day, fumbling the ball away on the Warriors 48 yard line. Two plays later Keenan hit a wide open Alex Demidenko for a 45-yard touchdown reception to put the Warriors up 15-1 at the half.

Despite trailing after two quarters, the Panthers were still in a position to get back into the game if they could cut down on their miscues.

They started the second half off with a bang when Uyo Akpan ran 60 yards for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage to narrow the deficit to
15-7.

A poor decision on the ensuing kickoff by the Warriors would put them all the way back on their own five yard line. When the Warriors failed to pick up a first down, they were forced to punt the ball from their own end zone.

After the Panthers returned the ball to the Warriors' 36-yard line, they were unable to gain anymore ground and decided to quick kick a fake field goal attempt rather than go for the automatic single and allow the Warriors to start their next series on the 35-yard line.

It was a great strategy, especially when Miguel's kick went out of bounds at the 10-yard line. The Panthers defence answered the bell once again and the Warriors were forced to punt the ball from deep in their own end.

After starting out on the Warriors' 40-yard line, the Panthers managed to move the ball down to the eight before finally stalling. Rather than go for the touchdown on third down, they went for the field goal. Unfortunately, Miguel's 15-yard attempt sailed just wide and they ended up having to settle for single to make the score 15-8.

Things started to fall apart for the Panthers soon afterwards. On their next series, quarterback Philippe Wakim was trying to avoid a sack deep in his own end when he threw the ball into the hands of Warriors' lineman Kyle Wilson who easily trotted into the end zone for the touchdown.

Another miscue on the ensuing kickoff would once again force the Panthers to start off from their 10-yard line. When they failed to move the ball, Miguel was forced to punt the ball from the end zone which gave the Warriors excellent field position on the Cumberland 21-yard line. Two plays later, Demidenko made a sliding catch in the end zone to give Bell a 26-8 lead.

The Warriors would extend their lead to 33-8 in the fourth quarter on another interception return for a touchdown. The man on the spot was Jordan Taylor who would end up earning player of the game honours.

After the final whistle was blown and the Warriors were presented the championship trophy, Panthers head coach Bob Wojick lamented the fact that his team never put in a full practice during the entire season.

"If there's one thing I'm disappointed about it's in not showing up for practice. If you learn anything from this it is that you have to get your heads into it. How you prepare for the game will say a lot about how you're going to do in the game," Wojick told his players. "The one thing I really liked is the way you never gave up. No matter how bad things were, you kept playing hard."

The Panthers had an up and down season. After starting out 2-1-1 including a forfeit win over the East Ottawa Generals in Week 2, they were hammered 41-0 by the Kanata Knights in Week 6. After the game, Wojick replaced Sean Murphy as head coach.

His first win came three days later when the Panthers finished playing an earlier game against the North Gloucester Giants that had to be suspended due to darkness.

The Panthers finished out the season with a pair of wins over the Canterbury Mustangs and the Gloucester South Raiders to finish in second place in the East Division.

They would suffer another setback in the first round of the playoffs when the Nepean Redskins hardly broke a sweat in beating them 27-0. They would bounce back the next week to beat the Cornwall Wildcats 41-0 and earn a berth in the B-Cup championship.

(Posted 3:30 p.m., Nov. 1)

 

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