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(Posted 12:30 a.m., Aug. 11)
Damn those Myers Riders: Panthers punted from playoffs by crosstown rivals
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Cumberland Panthers running back Kian Williams is off to the races on the way to scoring his team's first touchdown on Saturday. Unfortunately the Panthers would come up a touchdown short in a 28-21 loss to the Myers Riders. Fred Sherwin/Photo

The Cumberland Panthers will have to wait another year for a shot at an OVFL championship after the club's bantam and junior varsity teams lost both of their respective conference finals on Saturday.

To add insult to injury both teams lost to the club's bitter crosstown rivals, the Myers Riders, who have had the Panthers number for the past two years.

The junior varsity team was hoping to avenge the 36-20 loss they suffered at the hands of the Riders in last year's Wettges Conference final, an they had good reason to be confident after going through the regular season undefeated, including a 42-39 win over the Riders in Week 8.

That confidence was on display for everyone to see at Millennium Park on Saturday as the Panthers jumped out to a 17-3 first half lead.

But the proudful Riders showed why they are the defending league champions by scoring 20 answered points in the second half to take 23-17 lead late in the fourth quarter.

The Panthers only chance was to pin the Riders deep in their own end, forcing them to punt, and hopefully ending up with excellent field position. They accomplished the first task by not allowing the Riders to pick up a first down inside their own 10. Rather than pun, however, the Riders elected to take a safety and had the ball to the Panthers on their own 35-yard line.

As the clock slowed ticked down, Cumberland quickly moved the ball upfield and with less than 30 seconds to go they found themselves on the Riders' one-yard line with four downs at their disposal. But alas, it was not to be, as the Riders defence rose to the task, stopping the Panthers on all four attempts.

For the Panther players who will be moving up to the senior varsity division next yeat it was another bitter defeat, especially in a year when the OVFL championships are being contested at Carleton University's Keith Harris Stadium.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, they will be able to share their misery with the Panthers' bantam varsity team who suffered a slightly less dramatic fate at the hands of the Riders on the other side town at Minto Field.

The bantam final played out exactly the opposite of how the junior varisty game did. Instead of taking a first half lead, the bantam team spotted their Rider opponents a 21-0 lead. They did manage to score a touchdown in the later stages of the first half thanks to a brilliant run by Kian Williams, but they left enough time on the clock for the Riders to respond with their fourth major of the game, and by the end of the first 30 minutes the Panthers trailed 28-7.

Whie the first half was all Riders, the second half was all Panthers. The defence finally stopped the Myers' offence dead in their tracks and the offence resembled the same offence that had been averaging over 50 points a game. After touchdowns by Williams, Kevin Nsabua and Noah Gauthie, the Panthers had made it a one-touchdown game.

Trailing 28-21 with less than a minute to go, the Panthers had the ball inside the Riders' 50 and were on the move. They didn't move it far enough. however, and the Riders ended up running them out of downs and the game was over.

The lone positive the bantam team will be able to take away from the defeat is the fact that most of their key players still have a year of bantam eligibility left while the Riders dynamicduo of Hayden Tripp and Honoreal Iloki will be moving up to junior.

As for the Cumberland Panthers, their attention has already been turned to the upcoming NCAFA season and the chance of adding more hardware to their trophy case.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

 

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