Volume 12 Week 5

Friday, Sept. 22


 

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OPFL Football
JV Panthers pull off playoff upset over crosstown rivals
By Mike Beasley
Orléans Online

The Cumberland Panthers Premier JV team is off to the OPFL Eastern Conference Championship after disposing of their crosstown rivals in dramatic fashion on Saturday.

In a classic match-up that will be remembered for its spectacular ending, the Panthers knocked off the Ottawa Jr. Sooners 25-18 at Keith Harris Stadium in a battle between the number four and number one seeds in the East Conference.

The Panthers win was extra sweet considering they came up with their best performance of the season on the Sooners home field where they had lost by a late field goal less a month ago.

Cumberland Panther full back Scott Fulton picks up some yardage in Sunday's OPFL East Conference semi-final against the Ottawa Jr. Sooners. Photo courtesy of Richard Goulet

"What a great win, a lot of people had us (Cumberland) counted out as a 4-4 team against the 6-2 Sooners but we never gave up at any time in this game," said a jubilant Jeff Koradi, Panthers head coach. "We weren't in it for a while and lost Fabrice (Mukendi) to an injury. We had several ups and downs but we kept making plays right to the end."

The ending that everybody will be talking about occurred with mere seconds remaining on the game clock. The score was tied 18-18, when Cumberland attempted to punt the ball into the end zone rather than risk going for a field goal and potentially having the kick blocked.

As the play unfolded, the punt sailed deep into the Sooners end zone where it was quickly gathered up by an Ottawa player who attempted to kick it out of the end zone and out of danger. Instead, a wall of Panther players blocked the attempt allowing Eric Cumberbatch to fall on it for the go ahead touchdown and the eventual win.

"What an exciting way to win," said Panthers QB, Nicolas Rico, who used to play for the Sooners but chose to play for Cumberland this season. "Beating my old teammates will give me something to brag about during our group chats."

Rico was an efficient 9-for-15, throwing for 89 yards against a stingy Sooners defence. Fortunatelty one of those passes was to Joshua Ruby for a six-yard touchdown.

Before he left the game with an undisclosed injury in the third quarter, Mukendi had rushed for 119 yards and one touchdown on 19 carries.

Fellow running back Scott Fulton had another productive as well, running for 58 yards on eight carries and catching five passes for 42 additional yards.

The defending champion Panthers will now move on to the Converence championship game where they will face the Durham Dolphins on Sunday, July 8.

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

 

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