Volume 12 Week 5

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NCAFA Football
Giants win wild affair with Bel-Air Lions, advance to A-Cup final
By Fred Sherwin
OrleansOnline,ca

North Gloucester Giants running back Scott Fultin scored a pair of touchdowns against the Bel-Air Lions on Sunday, including the game winning score in overtime. Fred Sherwin/Photo

The North Gloucester Gianst have advanced to the NCAFA Peewee A-Cup championship and a rematch with the Cumberland Panthers after squeaking out a win against the Bel-Air Lions on Sunday.

The Lions gave the top-seeded Giants all they could handle and then some, battling back from an 8-0 halftime deficit to force the game into overtime.

Both teams had trouble dealing with the muddy conditions at Gil-O-Julien Park on Donald Street where the muck was six and seven inches deep in some areas between the hash marks.

Giants' running back Scott Fulton managed to rush for 185 yards on 18 carries in the first half, but he fumbled the ball away on two of those carries before finally hanging on to the ball long enough to score on a 16-yard run late in the second quarter. Paul Kasemba then ran the ball in for the two point convert to give the Giants the 8-0 lead at the break.

The Giants appeared to improve their lead early in the third quarter when Josh Baka returned a Lions punt 115 yards from his own end zone to the big house only to have it called back for holding.

The call created a great deal of controversy and consternation among the Bel-Air supporters on the sideline who thought the penalty, which occured while Baka was still in the end zone, should have resulted in their team being awarded a single point. But according to Article 7, Rule 5 of the CFL rule book which governs kicking and kick returns, "if a foul is committed by the receiving team before possession has been gained in the goal area, the penalty shall be applied from the receiving team's 10-yard line". In this case, the hold was committed on the field before Baka had possession of the ball.

Not that it would matter. When the Giants failed to pick up a first down on the ensuing series they conceeded a safety which pushed the Lions back to their 35-yard line.

Down by six points and needing a minor miracle to get back into the game, the Lions got just that from #23 Stephen Rivera, who pulled off a miraculous 84-yard run down the far sideline to tie the game and set up a potential game-winning extra point.

The field was so muddy in front of the Giants' goal posts, the referee allowed the Lions to atempt the extra point kick from inside the end zone. With their regular kicker in Dallas, Texas for the Cowboys' Sunday night game, the Lions rested all their hopes on their back-up kicker who drilled the ball into the back of his offensive line.

Wih the score tied 8-8 at the end of regulation, the game had to be decided in overtime with the Giants getting the first chance to score from the 35 yard line. With the game and a trip to the A-Cup final on the line, Giants coach Moe Salehe put the ball in Fulton's hands despite the big running back having a less than stellar second half.

After gaining 185 yards on 18 carries during the first two quarters, Fulton was limited to just 12 yards on 14 carries in the second half, causing some observers on the sideline to speculate on his health. They needn't have worried because Fulton carried the ball on five of the Giants six plays in the extra session leading to an eight-yard touchdown run. Kasemba then scored his second two-point convert to put the Giants up 16-8.

The Lions had a chance to respond on their overtime possession, but the Giants defence wasn't going to be denied as they prevented Bel-Air from even picking up a first down..

Following the big win, Salehe talked about his decision to go for it on third down in overtime rather than try a field goal or punt to at least pick up a single point.

"We don't have anyone who can kick the ball 30 yards so you have to take the law of averages and decide what's the best chance to win, so for us it was to go for it and put the ball in Scottie's hands," said Salehe.

"When you play on a field like this it really evens things out. So it comes down to grit. It comes down to heart. It comes down to who wants it more and at the end of the day it came down to #33 and he came through for us."

After the game, Fulton quickly dispelled any thought that he might have played injured in the second half.

"No, not at all," said Fulton. "The field was really muddy and it was hard to get traction."

As for the final series in overtime, the Giants MVP said he wasn't going to be denied.

"I just really wanted to win this game. I've never been to an A-Cup final before and his might be my last year playing Giants so I really wanted to win this one," said Fulton.

The win sets up a rematch of the Giants' Week 7 win against the defending champion Panthers in next Sunday's A-Cup final at Millennium Park. Kick-off is at 1:30 p.m.

(Posted 7 a.m., Oct. 31)

 

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