Spanish Season Kicks Off With A Pair Of Upsets

The Spanish league – LNFA – kicked off with a surprise Saturday as the Reus Imperials shocked the 2015 champions and 2016 finalists the Valencia Firebats 33-18 in the first game of a busy weekend of football in Spain.

The newly promoted Murcia Cobras staged another upset knocking off the Valencia Giants while the reigning champion Badalona Dracs took care of business downing the Barbera Rookies.

Reus Imperials 33 – Valencia Firebats 18

spain-reus-imperials-2017

Photo: Elisabeth Casañas

New Imperials quarterback Brady Huber tossed four touchdown passes, three of them to Nate Stephens as the Reus Imperials proved that their offseason recruiting and preparations were well worth it. The last time these two teams met in 2016, Valencia handed Reus an embarrassing 62-0 defeat.

Reus head coach Bart Iccarino had his troops playing solid football throughout the game. The Imperials took a first quarter lead as Huber found receive Henri Laine from 40 yards out for the game’s first score. The Firebats responded as young quarterback Agustín Gaitán scored to close the gap to 7-6.

Huber then marched the Imperials offense smartly down the field connecting with Stephens in the end zone extending the lead to 13-6. Valencia running back Ben Sasu, who was dangerous all game, scored his first touchdown on a 40 yard scamper to make the score 13-12.

The Huber-Stephens connection struck again on the ensuing series and this time the extra point was good giving Reus a 20-12 lead, still in the second quarter. But Sasu was unstoppable in the first half and he scored his second touchdown of the game to close the gap to 20-18. For the third time Valencia could not convert the PAT.

Huber threw touchdown pass number four to Stephens and then Stephens scored his fourth touchdown of the game on an interception giving the Imperials a solid 33-18 victory and an excellent start to the 2017 season.

Badalona Dracs 35 – Barbera Rookies 14

It took the Badalona Dracs, who won the Spanish league title easily in 2016, a quarter to get underway against a surprising Rookies squad. Barbera jumped out to a 14-0 lead behind touchdowns by receiver Cory Soto and Joan de Ramón. However, the Dracs recovered as first Miky Genabat blocked a Rookies punt and returned it for a touchdown and then Hunter Lee hauled in a 14 yard touchdown pass from Badalona quarterback Sergi Gonzalo to even the score at 14-14 at the half.

Hunter Lee scored two more touchdowns in the second half, one on a spectacular 65 yard catch and run while Joey Herrick added one as well as Badalona took their first step on the way to defending their Spanish title.

Murcia Cobras 27 – Valencia Giants 13

spain-murcia-giants-action-2017The Murcia Cobras, who advanced to the top league in Spain after going undefeated in 2016 in division 2, continued their winning ways in knocking off the Valencia Giants. 

Running back Kevin Gramage paced Murcia with three touchdowns and created problems for the Giants defense all game long.

Nevertheless, Valencia opened the scoring as quarterback TJ Tutone found the end zone to give the Giants a 7-0 lead. Gramage responded on the ensuing kickoff on a 95 yard return for a touchdown. Then Murcia quarterback Angel Clemente scored after the Cobras picked off Tutone in good field position. The Cobras took a 14-7 lead into the break.

Gramage, who had spent the last couple of years playing in Mexico, struck twice more in the third quarter to give Murcia a 27-7 lead. But Valencia roared back as Tutone found TJ Murphy Jr. to narrow the lead to 27-13.

But the Cobras picked off Tutone again, ending Valencia’s hopes and giving Murcia their first win in Spain’s first division.

Watch a replay of the Murcia Cobras win over the Valencia Giants

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