to overcome early deficit, mosquito Panthers go down fighting
Sahil Sharma takes off in the open field after
taking a pass from Logan Ferry in the Cumberland
Panthers 54-36 loss to the Nepean Redskins
in the NCAFA A-Cup semi-finals on Saturday.
the playoffs began, the Cumberland Panthers mosquito team
knew they had a Herculian task ahead of them if they wanted
to make the A-Cup final.
the fourth place team in the Eastern Conferencem they
had to play the top seed in the West in the first round.
And on the off chance that they won that game, they would
have to get past another higher ranked team in the semi-finals
to make it to the championship game.
they managed to somehow beat the odds in the quarterfinals
by shutting out the previously undefeated Bell Warriors.
But with the win came a heightened desire to make the
A-Cup final, and a heightened level of desire can often
come with additional pressure, especially when you're
talking about 11- and 12-year-old kids playing what is
a very emotional game.
pressure was evident on Saturday as the same Panther defence
that shut down the Warriors allowed four touchdowns on
the first five servies against the Nepean Redskins, and
just like that they had dug themselves a 30-point hole.
when a snowball becomes an avalanche, the team on the
receiving end succumb to the inevitable, but not this
Knights team. Led by the dynamic duo of Logan Ferry and
A.K. Ismail behind center, the Panthers tried to battle
they put together an eight play, 55-yard drive, capped
by a touchdown run and a two-point conversion by Ismail.
Then, with half a second remaining in the first half,
Ismail heaved a 30-yard pass to Kodey Williamson, who
ran the remaining 25-yards into the end zone to cut the
deficit to 30-15.
Panthers continued to move the ball at the start the second
half until the Redskins forced a fumble and turned it
into another touchdown on Honoreal Iloki's third long
run of the game. The tall and elusive running back was
the difference-maker in the contest, racking up more than
350 yards and scoring five of his team's six touchdowns.
38-15, the never-say-die Panthers refused to give up.
A 25-yard pass from Ismail to Sahil Sharma would set up
another touchdown run by Ismail to make the score 38-23,
and then Logan hitched up with Sharma for a 35-yard touchdown
toss to make it a nine-point game.
as quicky as the Panthers cut the deficit to nine, the
Redskins just as quickly extended it to 17 by putting
the ball in Iloki's hands.
coup de gras came on the next series of plays. Facing
a third down and inches on the Redskins' 20-yard line,
the Panthers tried a quarterback sneak but were stopped
cold. Iloki then scampered 90 yards on the Redskins first
play from scrimmage tp put the game out of reach.
Panthers managed to score another touchdown on a one yard
run by Wesley Bailey late in the game, but by then it
was a forgone conclusion.
the result was disappointing, Panthers head coach Rob
Ferry refused to let it overshadow what was a very successful
gave up at all today and when you get down to it, that
is what football is all about. You guys fought hard. You
stuck together and you went down fighting," Ferry
told his young players."I'm very proud of the effort
you gave all year. We had a great season. And you're a
great group of guys."
Panthers peewee team also lost on Saturday, falling 27-6
to the Myers Riders in the B-Cup semi-finals, leaving
the tyke and bantam squads as the only two teams left
with a chance at a Cup.
tykes play the Gatineau Vikings for a spot in the A-Cup
final at Millennium Park at noon on Sunday, followed by
the bantam team which plays the Cornwall Wildcats for
a spot in the B-Cup final.
9 p.m., Oct. 27)
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