Manila Wolves Repeat As Philippines Champions
The Manila Wolves and Manila Bandits were able to ignore the upheaval prevailing in football in the Philippines and put on an outstanding championship game as the Wolves came from behind to defeat the Bandits 30-12 at Manila’s Acacia field on the weekend.
Quarterback Luke Zetazate threw three touchdown passes and game MVP Gabriel Chambers caught two of them while forcing three fumbles in helping the Wolves defend their championship title.
The game was played under a cloud of controversy as the teams themselves organized the event with the demise of the league late in the season. The sweltering 90 degree heat took its toll with players cramping up in the second half.
The Bandits opened the scoring as Kitt Guerra found a seam and raced 10 yards to the end zone for the major marking the first touchdown given up by the Wolves in four games. The Wolves responded recovering a fumble in the end zone and then forcing a Bandits safety giving them a 9-6 lead in the first quarter.
Zetazate got the offense untracked finding receiver Ivan Klaric in the end zone extending the lead to 16-6.
Bandits quarterback Mike Hoese answered hitting Filipino American Edlen Hernandez to close the gap to 16-12. The Wolves running backs including Dennis Graves had difficulty against the Bandits front seven so Zetazate attacked their secondary. Early in the third quarter he threw a touchdown pass to Gabriel Chambers giving the Wolves a 23-12 lead.
The Bandits were having enormous problems with the quarterback-center exchange and fumbled the ball away again on the next series setting up another Zetazate to Chambers touchdown, this one from 45 yards out, giving the Wolves a 30-12 lead late in the game.
The Bandits managed to drive deep into the Wolves red zone late in the game but turned the ball over on downs. The Bandits did not score again and the Wolves ran out the clock winning their second championship in a row.
Wolves defensive tackle Steve Smith created havoc all game long forcing the Bandits to switch centers three times. Edlen Hernandez was solid for the Bandits playing both ways. Wolves kicker Dj Mello converted all of his PATs while the Bandits were not able to convert any.
The difference in the game was the turnovers and with the Wolves able to capitalize while the Bandits dropped key passes that might have turned the tide.