The Cumberland Panthers U10 tyke team won the National Capital Amateur Football Association A-Cup championship on Nov. 6, beating the Cornwall Wildcats 38-30 thanks to a solid effort on both sides of the ball.
The game didn’t start well for the Panthers, who fumbled the ball away on just their third play of the game. It took just two plays for the Wildcats to score their first touchdown of the game and take an early 8-0 lead after their kicker added a two-point convert.
|TEAM ROSTER: Kimaley Bailey, Grayson Rouleau, Rocco Della Vedova, Adam McLeod, Evan Nicholls, Elliott Allard, Jacob Kavanaugh, Miguel Iraheta, Jack Girouard, Pearson Nylund, Connor Spears, Kade Giunta, Maxim Lalonde, Bryson Moore, Liam Bouchard, Andrew Tremblay, Jacob Wilson, Kallen Doth, Mathias Cave and Trenton Sabean. FRED SHERWIN PHOTO
The After the change of possession, the Panthers immediately turned the ball over again, but this time their defense rose to the challenge and forced the Wildcats to turn the ball over on downs after Trenton Sabean sacked the quarterback on third and five.
The defensive stand would be repeated several times in the game, including the crucial final few minutes.
The Panthers wasted little time in tying the game after Sabean’s sack. A 10-yard horsecollar penalty tagged onto the end of a 25-yard run by Evan Nicholls, would set up a seven-yard touchdown run by the Panther tailback. Place-kicker Liam Bouchard would his first of four successful convert attempts to tie the game at 8-8.
The deadlock didn’t last long, however, as the Wildcats scored on the very next play thanks to a 50-yard run by Ronin Van Gessel.Another two-point convert would make the score 16-8 in favour of Cornwall.
With the first quarter winding down, the Panthers put together a sustained scoring drive capped by an impressive 22-yard run by Rocco Della Vedova, who broke a pair of tackles before changing directions to cut across the field and into the end zone.
With the game tied 16-16, the Wildcats responded with their third touchdown of the game, but a missed convert only gave them a six-point lead.
The Panthers put together their most impressive drive of the game on the next series, moving the ball 40 yards on 10 plays, culminating in Vedova’s second touchdown of the game. Another two-point convert by Bouchard would put the Panthers up 24-22 at the half.
After the break, the Wildcats were threatening to retake the lead once again, before a pick-6 by Maxime Lalonde would extend the Panthers lead to 30-22.
Successive defensive stands would force the Wildcats to punt the ball on third and long rather than risk turning it over on downs.
When the Panthers found themselves in the same situation, they decided to go for it.
The gamble paid off with a 45-yard run by Nicholls on third and five to give Cumberland a 38-22 lead which looked safe until Cornwall scored a quick TD on the opening series of the fourth quarter to make things interesting.
They went from interesting to nail-biting when the Wildcats managed to move the ball down to the Panthers’ two-yard line, but back-to-back stops by Cumberland’s defence, lead by Kallen Doth, forced them to turn the ball over on downs with 1:44 left.
A 39-yard run by Vedova would give the Panthers some breathing room. A forced fumble by Cumberland just two plays later would give the Wildcats a flicker of hope with 45 seconds left, but that flicker was quickly snuffed out when Lalonde sacked the Cornwall quarterback to end the game..