Panthers advance to A-Cup final with win over Warriors
By Fred Sherwin
Panthers running back Fabrice Mukendi ran
for 234 yards against the Bell Warriors on
Saturday, but his only touchdown came on a
screen pass from Josh Ruby. Lynn Gibault/Photo
Cumberland Panthers peewee team is heading to the National
Capital Amateur Football Association A-Cup championship
game after downing the Bell Warriors 38-26 at Millennium
Park on Saturday.
Panthers were once again led by running back Fabrice Mukendi
who ran for 234 yards on 18 carries and scored his teams
second touchdown. His running mate, Jonathan Aoude, ran
for 83 yards on nine carries and scored a pair of touchdowns,
one on the ground and one through the air on a pass from
replacement quarterback Josh Ruby who also had a strong
slotback turned quarterback did an admirable job under
centre subbing, for the teams regular pivot, Christian
Veilleux, who suffered a broken collar bone in a game
against the North Gloucester Giants on Oct. 8 and is out
for the season. Ruby completed three passes for 45 yards,
including a pair of touchdown passes to Aoude and Mukendi,
and he ran the ball five times for 40-yards, two of which
were for majors.
Saturdays semi-final matchup between the two antagonoists
who part in last years peewee championship, it was
the Warriors who struck first, scoring on a 68-yard bomb
down the far sideline on their opening play of the game
that followed a Panther fumble on the 31-yard line.
Panthers responded to the Warriors quick score with a
big play of their own. After Mukendi returned the ensuing
kickoff 37 yards to the Warriors 38-yard line, Ruby
threw a touchdown pass to Aoude who was left all alone
in the end zone. A two-point convert gave the Panthers
an 8-6 lead.
second touchdown came with 44.4 seconds left in the opening
quarter on a 38-yard run by Aoude. Mukendi's second two-point
convert run of the game extended the Panthers' lead to
the ensuing kick-off, the Warriors manufactured a 60-yard
drive, capped by a 15-yard touchdown run by their workhorse
Trey O'Brien. A missed wo-point convert attempt left the
score at 16-12 in favour of the home team.
visitors would eventually take the lead when they managed
to manufacture a 10 play, 69-yard drive to start the second
half that melted nearly five minutes off the clock.
18-16, the Panthers responded with a six-play, 58-yard
drive on the next offensive series, culminating in a 25-yard
touchdown run by Mukendi to retake the lead 22-18.
Bell got the ball back, they managed to move it into Panthers
territory before O'Brien had it stripped from his arms
by Cumberland's Nicholas Dignard. After the turnover,
the Panthers stuck to the ground, moving the ball 79-yards
in six plays, the last three of which was a 17-yard run
third two-point convert of the game would improve the
Panthers' lead to 36-18.
Warriors would respond with another touchdown drive on
their next series, but it wouldn't be enough as the Panthers
simply ran out the clock on the final series of the game.
Panthers must now await the winner of this weekend's other
A-Cup semi-final between the North Goucester Giants and
the Bel-Air Lions scheduled to kick-off at 1 p.m. Sunday.
head coach Jeff Koradi is quietly hoping for the more
highy favoured Giants to win the game which would set
up a rematch with the only team that beat the Panthers
hope it's them. I hope it's them," Koradi responded
when asked about a potential rematch in the next weekend's
A-Cup final. "It's going to be a great game."
no arguing that its been a challenging season for the
defending champions with injuries to several key plays
including Veilleux, wide receiver Zane Teichroeb (broken
collar bone) and centre Alex Gingras Desjardins (broken
ankle). But the team has responded with three straight
wins, which is a testament to the players still standing.
have to give credit to our kids," says Koradi. "We're
banged up. We're bruised up. We have kids out for the
rest of the year, but we have other kids who step up and
show up and get the job done."
of those kids is Josh Ruby who had decided to sit out
the NCAFA season after a long and grueling varsity season
campaign earlier in the year, but stepped up to fill in
at quarterback after Veilleux went down in Week 7.
is Josh. Ther's no surprise with Josh Ruby," says
Koradi. "He's been with us for seven years now and
he's just a tremendous kid and a really good player."
is going to have to bring his A-game if the Panthers end
up meeting the Giants in the A-Cup final. Nearly half
the Giants defence played with Ruby on the Panthers' bantam
varsity team that made it to the OVFL semifinals the past
core of the Panthers' offence, including Ruby, Mukendi,
Aooude and wide receiver Maxime Déry, also played
on the bantam varsity team. All of which adds up to potentially
classic A-Cup final.
11 a.m., Oct. 30)
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