BRAZIL – BFA League playoffs are on fire!

As the season approaches its end, only seven teams are left standing in the BFA League.

Six conference semifinals and one conference final took place this weekend in Brazil. Seven teams left and six games to go, the BFA League is getting close to the end as we’ve entered November. A record-breaking blowout, a bunch of close games and the contenders confirming favoritism. Here is our review on these seven games!

SOUTHERN CONFERENCE

T-Rex 26 – HP 7

T-Rex QB Luis Bassani reads HP’s defense. Ph: Richard Ferrari

Sunday, November 3rd: T-Rex and Paraná HP faced-off again in Timbó, Santa Catarina. After a slow start, trailing by seven points (via Patrick Oliveira rushing touchdown for HP), T-Rex set their offensive game up and scored three TD’s and a couple of field goals. Arthur Barcelos and Ian Bittencourt were found in the end zone by signal caller Luis Bassani, while Clair José rushed for his own score. Final score: T-Rex 26-7 HP.

WR Arthur Barcelos celebrates his TD as Rex will host the conference final again. Ph: Richard Ferrari

Soldiers 20 –  Black Hawks 12

On the same day, the Santa Maria Soldiers hosted the Black Hawks FA, who traveled from Gaspar to the deep south of Brazil. With the return of long-time starting quarterback Douglas Rodrigues, who was out after a concussion, the Soldiers also nailed a come-from-behind win, after giving away a touchdown in the Black Hawks’ first drive. QB Carraro scored the first TD but the extra-point was missed. The Soldiers flipped the score after Guilherme Busanello rushed for a TD and Rodrigues connected with Adner Sanches for another one. Down by eight, the Black Hawks scored with Carlos Medeiros and went for a two-point conversion for the tie, but missed it. The Soldiers scored yet another one with a pass into the end zone to their fullback Limana and also missed the XP. Game over: Soldiers 20-12 Black Hawks.

Soldiers rally to beat the Black Hawks and make it back to the Southern final. Ph: Gabriela Machado

SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE

Galo 63 – Tritões 0

Galo LB Ryan David returns an interception and nearly takes it to the house. Ph: Elvis de Paula

On Saturday, Galo FA hosted the Tritões FA for the fifth time in three years, the third in the playoffs.

After a close game between the two sides in July, the match-up in the semifinal was the textbook definition of a blowout. The very first play of the game ended in a kickoff return for a touchdown by free safety Michael James. Parris Lee scored a rushing TD from a wildcat formation in Galo’s first offensive drive. Not long after, James scored his second return TD, this time from a punt. Still in the first quarter, Yaggo Brito connected with Victor “Mega” for a big-play TD.

In the second, the ball was snapped to Lee in another wildcat play, but this time he gave the ball to James, who scored his third touchdown of the game. Luiz Protasio was perfect in his extra-points, so the mercy rule was set still in first half. Before halftime, Brito connected with Davison “Sagat”, who broke a bunch of tackles and scored Galo’s sixth. In the third quarter, Galo sent in its backups and still scored three more times. Parris Lee scored another rushing TD, while QB Guilherme Guimarães scrambled for his own in the third. In the final quarter, Athos was found in the end zone for another big-play touchdown.

All XP’s good, the final score was Galo 63-0 Tritões. That was the biggest number of points ever scored against the Tritões, and also set a BFA record for largest blowout in playoff history.

 

Galo FS Michael James and teammates celebrate one of his three touchdowns. Ph: Elvis de Paula

Almirantes 28 – Portuguesa 14

On the day after, Vasco Almirantes and Portuguesa FA faced off in Rio de Janeiro to decide who would make it to the conference final in Belo Horizonte against Galo.

Vasco opened the score with a field goal by Thiago Torres, but not long before Lusa QB Catullo Góes connected with Luiz Domingues in the end zone. On the ensuing drive, Almirantes’s QB Thiago Gazelle executed a perfect play action and found Luiz Phelippe deep down-field for a touchdown and a three-point lead.

In the second quarter, Portuguesa’s run game stayed strong, with a big-play by Branco Menezes and a 21-yard TD run by Fernando “Francês”. Vasco cut the difference to one point with another field goal before halftime. In the third quarter, running back Romulo “R40” Ramos converted a fourth down and scored a TD, giving the hosts a 7-point lead after a successful two-point conversion by Loan Felizardo. Doing a great job on defense and in the running game, Vasco held the lead until the fourth quarter, before strip-sacking Góes and scooping it for the final score: Almirantes 28-14 Portuguesa.

Vasco RB Pacquiao rolls over to take Vasco back to the conference final for the first time after three years. Ph: Gabriel Azeredo

MIDWESTERN CONFERENCE

Tubarões 27 – Hornets 20

Despite firing starting QB and head coach Tommy Kudyba a week before the game, Cuiabá Arsenal had no difficulties hosting Leões de Judá last Saturday. In the first half, a field goal put the first points on the board, and all-star linebacker Igor Mota, playing as a running back, scored the hosts’ first touchdown. After halftime, Bruno Loeschke extended the lead to sixteen points, and in the fourth quarter Arsenal’s defense came up strong and scored twice, after a fumble recovery and a pick-six. As the clock ran off: Arsenal 30-0 Leões de Judá.

Igor Mota hurdles over a player as Arsenal had an easy win. Ph: Júnior Martins

Even though they had an easy ride on the Central Division during the regular season, Tubarões do Cerrado had some trouble facing the Sorriso Hornets on a real “import showdown”.

The semifinal game was a rematch from last year’s conference final, and was just as thrilling as in 2018. After inaugurating the score with a Gabriel Cavalo rushing touchdown and a missed extra-point, the home team gave away a TD on the ensuing kickoff, with an amazing return by Terrence Bailey. Leading by one, the Hornets’ special teams unit was on fire again, as Bailey scored another return TD, this time on a punt.

In the second quarter, Tubarões’ quarterback Jordan Moore scrambled for a touchdown and cut the deficit back to one going to half time.

In the third, Moore pulled off another trick from his hat and, despite being back-against-the-wall inside his own 5, ran across the field and put the Tubarões back in the lead, up by six. After losing their starting QB to an injury, the Hornets put Terrence Bailey under center, and the gamble paid off: the import scored his third touchdown on a run play, but a blocked XP left both teams tied at 20. After seeing his American fellow score his third TD in the game, Moore decided to do the same: bulldozing his way into the end zone, the quarterback set the game’s final score after another rush: Tubarões 27-20 Hornets.

Another thrilling clash sets the tone for Tubarões vs Hornets. Ph: Pedro José Santana

NORTHEASTERN CONFERENCE: 

Espectros 26 – Mariners 12

It takes more than one battle to overthrow a king. That was the moral to this season’s story in the northeastern conference final. After the Recife Mariners beat the 2010-18 Conference Champions and 2015 National Champions João Pessoa Espectros, a lot of people thought this time someone else would finally take the trophy home. Both sides faced-off again at the great Arena Pernambuco (2014 FIFA World Cup stadium), in Recife on Saturday.

Mariners QB Jake Schimenz took the team to the offensive field, but was picked by safety Callus Cox. After the Espectros fumbled the ball, the Mariners had another chance for a drive in great field position. After driving it down to the opponent’s 2-yard line, Schimenz was picked off by Cox again. The Espectros fumbled the ball once more after a long drive, and Schimenz didn’t waste his third possession. On 4th & goal, he rushed in and scored the first touchdown of the game, but missed the two-point conversion right afterwards.

Callus Cox picks Schimenz once more. The American safety dominated the match-up. Ph: Reinaldo Nascimento

Still playing aggressively, the Mariners tried an onside kick, but failed to grab the ball. Finally operating in the offense, the visitors drove the ball till near the goal line, and Jonatha Azevedo pushed it in to tie the game. Diego Aranha’s extra-point was blocked, leaving it at 6-6. Before halftime, Callus Cox returned a punt to the Mariners’ 25 yard line and QB Alex Niznak tried to capitalize before the end of the second. Connecting with Vitor Ramalho in the end zone, the play was cancelled due to offensive holding, so the teams went to their locker rooms tied at 6, and frustrated for leaving a lot of points on the field.

After halftime, the Mariners kept playing aggressive football, but failed to execute it. After another failed onside kick and a bad punt by the hosts, the Espectros scored twice. First when Niznak found wide receiver Denner Lucena in the endzone, then when Niznak rushed it himself across the goal line. Missing one of the XP’s Espectros 19-6.

Cox picked Schimenz off again and took it 65 yards to the house, but the return was called back for another flag. Still getting the ball from the interception, the visitors arrived in the red zone with an acrobatic catch by Lucena, and expanded their lead with a Niznak touchdown pass to Heron Azevedo. A real “Golden State Warriors style” 3rd quarter left the Espectros up by 20.

In the final period, Niznak was intercepted, but the Mariners couldn’t capitalize on it right on. The blue team’s next score came from a punt return, cutting the deficit to 12 points. On a desperate last attempt, Schimenz was once more picked by Cox on a one-handed catch. Game over, Mariners 12-26 Espectros.

CONFERENCE FINALS AND NATIONAL PLAYOFFS:

MIDWESTERN FINAL:

Tubarões do Cerrado vs. Cuiabá Arsenal (Nov. 16 or 17)

SOUTHERN FINAL:
T-Rex x Santa Maria Soldiers (Nov. 16 or 17)

SOUTHEASTERN FINAL:

Galo FA x Vasco Almirantes (Nov. 16)

The winners from each game will be crowned conference champions and will face off in the National Semifinals. João Pessoa Espectros, already northeastern champs, will host the southeastern champion later in November. If Galo wins the conference, we’ll see another rematch from the last two Brazil Bowls, which Galo won both at Belo Horizonte and João Pessoa. On the other bracket, the midwestern champion will travel south for the other semifinal.

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