Brazil: Sada Cruzeiro stun unbeaten Patriotas with lopsided win

In a highly anticipated matchup that was expected to be balanced on both sides, Sada Cruzeiro F.A. stunned the world of Brazilian American football this weekend by dominating the previously unbeaten Patriotas F.A. 48-0 and finishing undefeated in their first ever regular season in Brazil’s top division.

With the victory, the BFA’s most dominant team in 2017 successfully locked up the #1 seed thus securing home field advantage throughout the first two rounds of the BFA playoffs.

The Game

After receiving the opening kickoff, the Sada Cruzeiro offense went to work, utilizing a combination of power run game and quick outside screens to move the chains. A 16-yard catch and run by American Clinton Greenaway followed by a physical 30-yard rush by RB Rafael Fadini moved the ball quickly into Patriotas territory. Sada Cruziero Head Coach Dan Levy spoke about the Cruzeiro gameplan on offense:

“The Patriotas are a 3-4 team and do a lot of things that we hadn’t previously seen from opposing defenses. They like to bring a lot of double edge pressure and in doing so give a lot of space on the perimeter. We thought if we used some motions and shifts and really rapid tempo between snaps and forced them to defend formations rather than plays, it would open some things up for us early. The quick (passing) game really became an extension of the running game for us and kept the chains moving.”

However, the home Cruzeiro team failed to cash in on their first drive, turning the ball over on downs. The Patriotas offense then took the field and relied on the physical running of National Team RB Romulo Ramos and the outside option play of young QB Daniel Gazelle.

However, following an unsuccessful a fake punt attempt on fourth down, the ball went back to the Sada Cruzeiro offense. With great field position, the Cruzeiro boys wasted no time cashing in on big catch-and-run plays from WRs Victor “Mega” Hugo and Pedro Conrado. QB Alvaro Fadini capped off the drive with a 5 yard TD pass to Clinton Greenaway to make the score 7-0.

Joao Pedro Conrado Photo: Lethy Guerra

Led by the play of Brazilian National Team captain, SS Igor Mota, the Sada Cruzeiro defense smothered the Patriotas offense throughout the game, swarming the rushing attack of Ramos and relentlessly pressuring Gazelle in the passing game. With the ball back in Cruzeiro’s hands, the home team opened the second quarter with a connection between brothers–QB Alvaro Fadini to RB Rafael Fadini, this time lined up as an H-Back–on a pass over the middle which the latter Fadini broke free for a 59 yard gain.

Two plays later, Alvaro capped off the drive with a 14-yard fade to slot receiver Davison “Sagat” Gomes who elevated over a Patriotas defender for the beautiful “high point” touchdown.

With the clock winding down in the second quarter, Coach Levy opted to burn all three of Cruzeiro’s timeouts to allow his defense to get the ball back to his offense. The Sada Cruzeiro offense then retook the field with less than 2 minutes remaining in the half.

On the first play of the ensuing drive, WR Davison Gomes once again sparked the Cruzeiro offense, this time a 62-yard catch and run to set up a go-ahead 14-yard touchdown pass from Fadini to Victor Hugo. Both teams entered the locker room at halftime with Sada Cruzeiro leading the Patriotas 21-0.

Sada Cruzeiro WR Victor Hugo makes a leaping end zone grab Photo: Lethy Guerra

With blood in the water, Sada Cruzeiro decided to go for the kill and started the second half with a surprise onside kick. Following a successful recovery by the home team, the Sada Cruzeiro offense failed to disappoint with a flawlessly-executed Flea Flicker on their first play from scrimmage, leading to an easy throw and catch from Alvaro Fadini to Victor Hugo for the go-ahead 52-yard touchdown. Coach Levy spoke about the high-risk/high-reward decision:

“We had seen some things on film that we liked in terms of a surprise kickoff–either an onside or a pop-up (kick). With the way the game was flowing, we felt like it was the right time–that if we could pull this off, we could more or less end the game right then and there. Despite what the score would make you believe, the Patriotas are a dangerous team and we didn’t want to give them a chance to swing momentum back in their favor.”

The onslaught only continued as Clinton Greenaway contributed an additional 2 touchdowns in the third quarter–one on offense (7-yard rush) and one on defense (48-yard interception return). Reserve QB Maycon Dacaza capped off the scoring on the day 2-yard rush of his own in the 4th quarter to make the final score 48-0 in favor of Cruzeiro.

The star of the day was once again Sada Cruzeiro QB Alvaro Fadini (377 yds. Passing, 67% comp., 4TDs, 0 INTs), along with his young group of WRs who are quickly earning a reputation as the best wide receiving corps in Brazil. Victor Hugo (4 rec., 102 yds., 2 TDs) and Davison Gomes (4 rec., 112 yds., 1 TD) stood atop the leaderboard, each with 100-yard days, and were followed closely by #3 WR Pedro Conrado (3 rec., 71 yds.).

Cruzeiro’s lone American import, Clinton Greenaway, also made his presence known with a receiving TD, a rushing TD, and a defensive TD, earning him MVP honors for the hat trick.

“Like I always tell the guys, to be champions we have to play our best games against our best opponents, ” said Levy. “We did that in this game. But now it’s on to the playoffs, and we know there are no dovers. We either win, or we sit at home in November and December.”

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