Volume 12 Week 5

Tuesday, Nov. 6


 

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Tim Tierney

   


OPFL Football
Struggling JV Panthers suffer back-to-back losses
By Mike Beasley
Orléans Online

Cumberland Panther Fabrice Mukendi ran for 125 yards against the Ottawa Sooners on June 9 before he had to leave the game in the third quarter with a lower body injury. Photo courtesy of Richard Goulet

After starting the season 3-1, the Cumberland Panthers Junior Varsity football team has fallen on hard times of late, losing their last two games to fall to 3-3 and third place in the Ontario Provincial Football League east division standings.

The losing skid started with a 17-14 loss to the Ottawa Sooners on June 9.

Both teams entered the highly antici-pated contest with identical 3-1 records so something had to give when the two teams squared off against each other at Millennium Park.

With supporters of both teams filling the stands on a bright sunny Saturday afternoon, the game had a definite playoff feel to it.

The Sooners tried to establish their running game early on in the contest, marching the length of the field on their opening drive, but the Panthers defence stood their ground in the red zone and limited the Sooners to an 18-yard field goal.

That defensive stand seemed to kick start the Panthers’ offence as they started to move the ball with authority both on the ground and through the air.

With just under eight minutes to play in the second quarter, the Panthers were finally rewarded when running back Fabrice Mukendi capped a lengthy drive with a 12-yard touchdown run to give the Panthers their first lead of the game.

With time winding down in the second half, Panthers head coach Jeff Koradi decided to gamble on third and goal.

Rather than attempt a short field goal, the Panthers decided to go for it and called for a passing play. Unfortunately, quarterback Nicolas Rico’s attempt was picked off by Sooners defensive back Shawn Lucas who ran it back 101 yards for the pick six and a 10-7 halftime lead.

“That was one of the mistakes that cost us,” Koradi admitted after the game.

The Panthers were also guilty of taking several untimely penalties which the Sooners managed to capitalize on, but not before Cumberland was able to take a 14-10 lead on a one-yard sweep by running back Jonathan Aoude.

The score stood up until late in the fourth quarter when the Sooners scored the eventual game-winning touchdown with just over two minutes to go.

Besides losing the game, the Panthers also lost the services of Fabrice Mukendi who left the field with a lower body injury in the third quarter after running for 125 yards on 10 carries.

The undisclosed injury was serious enough to keep the fleet-footed running back out of the Panthers line up for their game against the London Jr. Mustangs on Saturday.

With Mukendi relegated to the side-lines, the Panthers struggled to establish their running game against a Mustangs team that has allowed just 83 points in six games. They managed to gain just 86 yards on the ground, while Rico did his best to compensate for the lack of a ground attack by completing 18 of 24 passes for 202 yards with no interceptions. Unfortunately, none of those passes were for touchdowns.

The Panthers’ defence did its level best to keep the team in the game by limiting the Mustangs to 49 fewer yards in total offence than the Panthers gained, but they were unable to keep them off the board for a full four quarters.

Despite conceding a safety and a field goal in the first half, the Panthers still led 7-5 at the break thanks to Aoude who scored his team’s lone touchdown of the game in the second quarter.

The Mustangs eventually scored the go ahead touchdown in the third quarter and added a converted touchdown and another safety in the fourth stanza to lock up the 21-7 win.

The Panthers will look to get back in the win column with they host the Kingston Grandiers (1-5) this Saturday at Millennium Park. Kick off is at 1:30 p.m.

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

 

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