The Cumberland Panthers U12 mosquito football team put a cherry on top of their perfect National Capital Amateur Football Association season on Saturday by winning the Ontario Fall Cup provincial championship over the Vaughan Rebels.
The Panthers entered the Fall Cup with a perfect 10-0 record after winning the NCAFA A-Cup championship on Nov. 5 with a 54-14 win over the Nepean Eagles.
|Cumberland Panthers quarterback Alexandre Anderson runs for one of his three touchdowns in the Ontario Fall Cup U12 championship game against the Vaughan Rebels on Saturday. FRED SHERWIN PHOTO
As impressive as the Panthers were against the Eagles, they were just as dominating, if not more so against the Rebels who were coming off a 20-14 win over the Cambridge Lions in the Ontario Fall Football League final and had only lost one game all season.
Playing nine men a side, the Panthers managed to draw first blood against the Rebels. After the two teams exchanged turnovers on their respective opening drives, Cumberland quarterback Alexandre Anderson took matters into his own hands and scored a touchdown on a 33-yard run off tackle. Léo Gingras then kicked the two-point conversion to give the Panthers the early 8-0 lead.
Undaunted, the Rebels answered right back, scoring a touchdown on the very next series thanks to a 25-yard run by Adrienne Androas.
A missed two-point conversion attempt left the score at 8-6 in favour of the Panthers.
Cumberland would add to their lead early in the second quarter when the capped a 38-yard drive with a one-yard quarterback-keeper up the middle. Another two-point convert by Gingras made the score 16-6.
After the Rebels failed to pick up a first down for the third series in a row, the Panthers took over possession of the ball at their own 48-yard line with less than 40 seconds left on the clock. On the first play from scrimmage, Anderson carried the ball 47 yards down to the one-yard line, slipping tackles left, right and centre as he went. One play later running back Troy Leroux scored from the one-yard line with three seconds left in the opening half while carrying a would-be tackler with him. Gingras’ third straight two-point convert would make the score 24-6 at the half.
The Panthers had a 188 yards in total offence the first half, compared to just over 50 yards for the Rebels who only managed to pick up one first down in the opening two quarters.
As play resumed to start the second half, Troy Leroux ran the kick-off back 42 yards to Vaughan’s 41-yard line. A 27-yard pass from Anderson to Leroux and an eight yard run by the Panthers' quarterback set up a two-yard touchdown plunge by Amari Berlin. A fourth straight two-point conversion by Gingras would extend the Panthers’ lead to 32-6.
The Rebels answered back with a thrilling 79-yard run for a touchdown by Androas on their very next play from scrimmage, but it was not enough to keep up with the Panthers who were far from finished offensively as they continued to put points on the board.
Cumberland scored on their next two offensive possessions to push their lead to 46-12. The first came on an eight-yard run by Antoni Clément, and the second was scored by Anderson who carried the ball 39 yards for his third major score of the game.
The icing on the cake was provided by Rocco Della Vedova who scored a touchdown from 60-yards out on perfectly executed reverse. Gingras would add his sixth two-point convert of the game to make the final score 54-12.
Anderson finished the game with 130 yards on 25 carries and three touchdowns. He also completed three passes for 56 yards to pick up MVP honours.
Novak Drouin, who made tackles all over the field was named the Defensive Payer of the Game.
With the mosquito Panthers finished the season with a perfect 11-0 record. They scored 604 points on offence for an average of 55 points per game, while allowing just 62 points which is less than 11 poins per game.
The Cumberland Panthers U14 peewee team was also in action on Saturday. The NCAFA A-Cup champiions went up against the Oshawa Hawkeyes and despite battling through all four quarters, they came out on the losing end of a 32-27 final.
Last, but by no means least, the U10 tyke team played in one of two U10 jamboree games against the Durham Dolphins in which the score didn’t count. The other game saw the NCAFA champions Kanata Stallions play a team from Brantford.
|The Cumberland Panthers U12 mosquito team poses with the championship banner after winning the Ontario Fall Cup provincial championship on Saturday. FRED SHERWIN PHOTO