Volume 12 Week 5

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(Posted 12:30 p.m., July 13)
Bantam varsity Panthers fall to crosstown rivals
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Cumberland Panthers running back Kian Williams rushed for three touchdowns in a losing cause against the Myers Riders on Saturday. Fred Sherwin/Photo

They say that in order to win a championship, every team must suffer a little adversity. The Cumberland Panthers bantam varsity team suffered more than their fair share of adversity against the Myers Riders on Saturday and now must bounce back before the start of the playoffs in two weeks time..

After suffering an opening season overtime loss to the Metro Toronro Wildcats, the Panthers have had their way with the competiton for the past five weeks, rolling to lopsided win after lopsided win.

Meanwhile, the Riders were amassing their own formidable record. Satruday's highly-anticipated game had shaped up to knock down, drag 'em out affair between the best two teams in the Wettges Conference.

It turned out to be a good old-fashioned butt-kicking, as Panthers head coach Jeff Koradi described it in his post-game comments, with the Riders doing the kicking and the Panthers feeling it on the scoresheet.

Before the Panthers even knew what hit them, the Riders had taken a 13-0 lead within the first three minutes. Their first touchdown came on a long pass and run play from Avery Clayton to Honoreal Iloki on the first play of the game.

Hayden Tripp played both sides of the ball for the Myers Riders on Saturday in leading his team to a 35-26 win over the Cumberland Panthers. Fred Sherwin/Photo

The Riders would score agaiin on their next series after a 15-yard facemask penalty against the Panthers allowed Myers to convert a third and 40 situation into a first down inside the 10.

The Panthers' offensive responded with a 47-yard touchdown run by Kian Williams on the next series, but a failed two-point convert attempt left them trailing 13-6. The Riders than made it three-for-three, scoring on their third straight possession courtesy of a nine-year touchdown run by Iloki. The point after was good, making the score 20-6 in favour of Myers.

With momentum clearly in their favour, the Riders kept up the pressure by successfully recovering an onside kick at midfield. Despite being on the field for most of the first quarter, the Panthers defence stiffened and forced the Riders to attempt a 27-yard field goal. The attempt went wide right , but it was strong enough to go out the back of the end zone and count for a point.

The Panthers tried to make a game of it by putting together a 75-yard drive on their next possession, capped by a touchdown and two-point convert by Noah Gauthier which narrowed the deficit to 21-14 with 1:14 left to go in the first half.

Cumberland would have loved to have go into the halftime break down a touchdown, but the Riders had other plans. They managed to put together a scoring drive thanks to two key plays. The first was a finger tip catch along the sideline by James Keenan that covered 25 yards. And the second was a horrible pass interference call on a third and long against the Panthers that set up a five yard touchdown run by Hayden Tripp.

The score at the half was 28-14 in favour of the Riders.

After receiving the opening kick-off to start the second half, Myers extended their lead to 35-14 thanks to Iloki who broke free on a third and 19 play to take the ball all the way down to the one yard line. Clayton then scored on a quarterback keeper and the extra point attempt was good.

The Panthers did do themselves any favours by fumbling the ball away twice in the second half, but each time they were bailed out by their secondary who intercepted the ball twice on the one yard line. The first pick was made by Kevin Nsabua and the second theft was committed by AK Ismail.

After the second interception, Williams was able to break free for a 65-yard touchdown run that cut the score to 35-20 late in the fourth quarter. A successful onside kick and another long run by Williams would further reduce the deficit to 35-26, but that would be as close as they would fail to recover a second onside kick attempt and the Riders would run out the clock.

For the Panthers it's back to the drawing board and back to the practice field to prepare for the York Simcoe Bucks, who they will host in their final regular season game at Millennium Park next week.

(With notes from Steve Koscher)


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