Panthers comeback falls short in exciting bantam A-Cup semi-final
the second year in a row the Cumberland Panthers bantam
team have been knocked out of the A-Cup playoffs by the
year as a consolation prize for losing in the quarterfinals
they managed to win the NCAFA B-Cup. This year, despite
making it through to the semis, they exited the playoffs
NCAFA playoff format allows for the losers of the A-Cup
quarterfinals to play for the lesser trophy, while the
winners move on to the semi-finals and the possibility
of either making it to an A-Cup final or having their
season come to a premature end.
Friday night the Panthers experienced the later, despite
mounting a spirited second half comeback that fell one
touchdown short of a replay of last year's exciting overtime
first half of Friday night's game was all Redskins as
the second seed out of the west amassed a 21-point lead
thanks to running back Dorbor Kollie (33) who had the
Panther defence grasping at air all night long.
had two touchdowns in the first half, while Phil Iioki
(85) and Duncan Jarmyn (31) had the Redskins' other majors.
Panthers only toudchdown in the early going came on a
pass from Drew Garby (15) to Nick Renaud (3) in the second
the halftime break Panthers head coach Warren Steeves
challenged his team to put some points on the board. They
responded immediately with a touchdown from Kureigh Gittens
(3) to start the third quarter and then turned an onside
kick into another seven points to cut the Redskins' lead
to seven points in less than three minutes.
rest of the half turned into the Dorbor Kollie-Kurleigh
Gittens show as the two opposing running backs took turns
trying to outdo one another and lead their teams to victory.
the Panthers narrowed the deficit to seven points, Kollie
ripped off another long run to re-establish a 14-point
margin. On the very next series, Gittens had two highlight
reel carries, including a 15-yard scamper down the sidelines
during which he beat not one, not two, but three defenders
before diving across the goal line.
the ensuing kickoff, Kollie answered the challenge thrown
down by Gittens by returning the ball 45 yards to the
Panthers' 20 yard line. A facemask penalty, however, would
give the Redskins a first down on the five and on the
very next play from scrimmage, Kollie ran the ball into
the end zone to make the score 42-28.
would respond two series later with a 90-yard sprint up
the middle to once again make it a one possession game.
After the Panther defence managed to stop the Redskins
on a crucial second down play with 2:11 left to go, they
took over possession of the ball on their own 40. A 47-yard
halfback option pass from Gittens to Renaud would set
up the potential game tying touchdown, but a dropped pass
in the end zone, a three yard run and an incompletion
would force a change of possession leading to 77-yard
touchdown run by Kollie for his fifth touchdown of the
the ensuing kick off, Gittens ran the ball back 90 yards
for his fourth touchdown of the game to give his team
a glimmer of hope. It would soon be extinguished, however,
when Nepean corralled the onside kick and then ran out
the remaining 20 seconds.
the game, Steeves couldn't say enough about his team's
near comeback in the second half.
challenged them and they responded. We executed on offence
and made a few big stops on defence, we just came up short,"
Panthers head coach was especially proud of how Gittens
who played his last game at the bantam level.
been involved in minor football for the past seven or
eight years and I can't think of a more electrifying player.
He'll get out of this sport whatever he wants to put into
it. He's a very special player."
the NCAFA season may be over for Gittens and several other
members of the Panthers, they still have plenty of football
to play at the high school level. Gittens and Anthony
Denofrio play for the Sir Wilfrid Laurier Lancers, while
Shubham Nayyar, Athan O'Connor, Herschell Lamont, Chris
Fournier, Andre Lamoureux, Derek Mbuluyo and Josh Earle
all play for the St. Peter Knights.
8:30 a.m., Oct. 26)
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