Panthers pull off playoff upset over crosstown rivals
By Mike Beasley
Cumberland Panthers Premier JV team is off to the OPFL
Eastern Conference Championship after disposing of their
crosstown rivals in dramatic fashion on Saturday.
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.
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.
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
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."
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.
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.
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."
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.
he left the game with an undisclosed injury in the third
quarter, Mukendi had rushed for 119 yards and one touchdown
on 19 carries.
running back Scott Fulton had another productive as well,
running for 58 yards on eight carries and catching five
passes for 42 additional yards.
defending champion Panthers will now move on to the Converence
championship game where they will face the Durham Dolphins
on Sunday, July 8.
story was made possible thanks to the generous support of
our local business partners.)