Panthers hang on for division semifinal win over Durham
By Mike Beasley
the seconds ticking down in regulation and the Durham
Dolphins pressing to put the tying or go ahead points
on the scoreboard, Cumberland Panthers head coach Jeff
Koradi and assistant, Mike Kendricks were confident their
defence wouldn't let them down.
Panthers defence was really put to the test, especially
late in the contest as they held down the fort on two
occasions with Cumberland on top of the visiting Durham
Dolphins 12-9 in OPFL Junior Varsity East Division semi-final
action on Saturday at Millennium Park.
was a fantastic game that was decided in the final 90
seconds of regulation," said Koradi. "Our defence has
been outstanding all season and it came through once again
when we needed them the most."
three quarters of scoreless football, all 21 points were
scored in the fourth stanza. Ryan Licandro scored Cumberland's
only touchdown of the game on a quarterback keeper, and
Josh Ruby kicked the extra point and scored another point
on a punt that the Doplphins failed to get out of the
end zone. The Pamthers scored two more points on a safety.
the Panthers protecting a 12-7 lead late in the fourth
quarter, Durham QB Jaden Richards looked to have an open
receiver downfield when Panthers DB/wide receiver/kick
returner Kevin Victome swept in to intercept the ball
around Cumberland's 10 yard line.
collective sigh a relief was felt throughout the stadium
and along the Panthers' sideline. But after going two
and out, Cumberland was faced with the decision of kicking
the ball back to the Dolphins, or taking a safety which
would give Durham two points and a new set of downs starting
on their 35 yard line.
chose wisely by advising his punter to concede the two
points and run widely around the Cumberland end zone burning
up precious seconds off the clock until he was tackled.
The move proved valuable in their efforts to seal the
54 seconds left on the clock and down 12-9, Durham set
up on their 35 yard line, with field goal territory within
sight. On their first play, the Dolphins picked up 20
yards on the ground to bring the ball out to midfield
which silenced the partisan Panthers crowd.
nail-biters in the stands received a small break when
the Panthers' defence sacked Richards for a five-yard
loss. Another play failed to gain Durham any yardage.
Facing third and long and with the game on the line, the
Dolphins completed a 16-yard pass to pick up the first
the ball at Cumberland's 46 yard line, the Dolphins were
still too far away to attempt a field goal so they had
to go for it all, through the air, but once again, the
Panthers defence stood their ground.
first passing attempt fell harmlessly to the ground, their
next and final try was intercepted by Justice Koradi as
he timed his attack perfectly, cutting in front of a Durham
receiver to snag the ball and secure the win for Cumberland.
D won the game for us, they were lights out all game,
limiting Durham to one touchdown and coming up really
big when needed," said Kendricks, who is the Panthers'
a proud papa bear, Kendricks was glowing after the game,
gushing with pride over how well his troops played in
the pivotal game. "We spotted Durham a little bit in the
fourth quarter. They had us playing on our heels but we
stopped them from scoring and executed defensively."
Panthers will now travel to Burlington on July 30 to take
on the Stampeders in the Junior Varsity East Conference
Final. Kick-off at Corpus Christi Catholic Secondary School
is scheduled for 3 p.m.
made their way to the Conference final after defeating
the Ottawa Sooners 24-17 in the other OPFL Premier (JV)
and Burlington met up in Week 3 of the regular season
with Burlington coming away with a 38-35 win in an evenly
matched game. The Panthers were ahead 35-31 with eight
seconds to play in the game, but couldn't hold on for
the win as the Stamps cscored late to snatch the victory
and break Cumberland's hearts.
story was made possible thanks to the generous support of
our local business partners.)