The Cumberland Panther Football Club went into the National Capital Amateur Football Association championship weekend with four chances to win a city title. They walked away with three of them care of their mosquito, peewee and bantam teams, while the tyke squad fought gallantly in a 20-14 loss to the Kanata Stallions.
The mosquito team kicked the weekend off with a convincing 54-14 win over the Nepean Eagles. The tyke squad trailed the Stallions 14-0 after three quarters, before Jacob Rouleau scored a touchdown to narrow the deficit to 14-6. Hopes of a comeback were short lived, however, as the Stallions scored on the very next play from scrimmage to reestablish a two-score lead.
The Panthers eventually scored late in the fourth quarter on a 5-yard pass from Nico Scarfone to Pearson Nylund that was set up by a 36-yard run by the Cumberland quarterback, but it was too little too late as the Stallions held on for the 21-14 win.
When the action resumed on Sunday, it was the peewee team's turn to take the field against the Nepean Eagles. Both teams were coming off upset wins over higher-ranked teams in the semi-finals. The Panthers beat the 7-1 Kanata Knights 55-28 and the Eagles beat the previously unbeaten South Ottawa Raiders 19-12.
The first half of the A-Cup final was very much a defence affair with both teams managing to score a converted touchdown. The difference in the game was a botched extra point attempt that Kanata managed to turn into a two-point conversion and an 8-7 lead. The Panthers' only touchdown came on a spectacular 90-yard run by Gavin Poirier in the first quarter. The other key factor was a defensive stand at the end of the half that saw the Panthers stop the Eagles three times from inside the five yard line.
The Eagles took advantage of a Panthers' turnover on the first play of the second half and put together a 45-yard scoring drive of their own to take a 15-7 lead.
The Panthers' defence forced a pair of turnovers in the fourth quarter, the second one setting up a 10 play, 41-yard touchdown, culminating with a four-yard touchdown run by quarterback Vincent Anderson. A two-point conversion attempt was picked off, leaving the Panthers still trailing the Eagles by two points with 2:20 left in the game.
A successful onside kick-off attempt gave the Panthers possession of the ball on Nepean's 46 yard line. A 12-yard third down conversion run by Anderson combined with the hard-nosed running of Poirier resulted in a go-ahead touchdown and a two-point conversion to give the Panthers a 21-15 lead with just 38 seconds left in the game.
What happened next had supporters of both teams on the edge of the their seats. A 16-yard pass combined with a face-masking penalty would give the Eagles a first down on the Panthers' 30-yard line. The threat was soon snuffed out, however, thanks to a Sebastien Simard interception on the one yard line on the final play of the game to give Cumberland the 21-15 win and the A-Cup championship.
Poirier was named the game's MVP after carrying the ball 18 times for 164 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught a pass for eight yards. Anderson carried the ball 11 times for 89 yards incuding a touchdown and he completed three of eight passes for 14 yards.
At the end of the day the Panthers accumulated 265 yards in total offence and nine first downs. Conversely the Eagles had 206 yards in total offence and eight first downs.
|The Cumberland Panthers peewee squad beat the Nepeans Eagles 21-15 on Sunday to win the 2022 NCAFA A-Cup championship. FRED SHERWIN PHOTO
Buoyed by the A-Cup wins of their mosquito and peewee clubmates and wanting to avenge the tyke squad's loss to the Stallions, the Panthers bantam team took the field for the final game against their Kanata rivals with darkness descending on the Minto Sports Field.
Led by running backs Marvyn Larozar and Shiloh Mukendy, quarterback Ashton Chartrand and standout wide receiver Deion Moke, the undefeated Panthers were the clear favourites against the 7-2 Stallions. Even so, it wasn't until the early seconds of the second quarter that they finally got on the scoreboard thanks to a 22-yard pass from Chartrand to Moke.
The Panthers would score twice more in the second quarter. Their second touchdown came on a fake field goal by kicker Derek Durand who ran the ball 14 yards for the major. They would score again with less than two minutes remaining in the first half on a four-yard pass from Chartrand to Mark Pierre to make the score 19-0 at the break.
The Panthers' defence also did a fantastic job, limiting the effectiveness of the Stallions' star quarterback McAllaster Holmes who completed just five of 11 passes in the first half for 37 yards. He was also sacked three times.
The Stallions threatened to score midway through the third quarter, but an errant pass by Holmes was picked off in the end zone by Francis Campbell to end the threat. From there the Stallions got a steady dose of Larozar who ran the ball 14 times for 66 yards.
Kanata finally managed to get on the scoreboard early in the fourth quarter on a 23-yard touchdown run by Holmes, but that would be as close as they would get as the Panthers played the possession game to solidify their 19-7 win and cap an undefeated season.
The mosquito and peewee teams will both compete in the Ontario Football Fall Cup on
Nov. 19 against the Ontario Fall Football League champions in their respective divisions with the winners to be declared provincial champions.
|The Cumberland Panthers bantam team capped an undefeated season with a 19-7 win over the Kanata Stallions in the A-Cup final on Sunday. FRED SHERWIN PHOTO