Brussels Black Angels Capture First Belgian Bowl Title

Last Saturday the Belgian Bowl was played to decide who could take home the National Championship trophy.

This 28th edition was a little bit different than the previous ones. For starters, this was the first time the Belgian Bowl was organised by basc-online.be and televised on Telenet. It was also the first time the Brussels Black Angels and the Brussels Tigers played one another in the finals.

This was a Belgian Bowl of firsts, as the Black Angels were in the position to take home their first title. During the introduction it was clear that the Black Angels were on a mission. They looked like a well organised, cohesive unit with no cracks, the Tigers less so. This might have foreshadowed the match to come.

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Big plays and interceptions

After a great return by Féli Manoka Boka the first half was underway. With a couple of short passes from Tigers quarterback Marshall Kontos to his wide receiver Gilles Desaever the Tigers picked up a first down and looked like they were getting a drive going. The defense of the Brussels Black Angels decided otherwise. Linebacker Rudy Mwamba came up with a brilliant stop in the backfield and set the tone for the rest of his team. Tigers’ QB Marshall Kontos managed to pick up another first down with a great scramble but good pressure from Reda Vrancken on Kontos forced an incompletion and set up a punt.

After a short three and out by the Black Angels the Tigers picked up right where they left off. A big throw from quarterback Kontos to his running back Yassine Hartman led to a twenty yard gain. But then once more the drive stalled and the Tigers were forced to punt.

The punt was blocked by Kevin Van De Wiele, who tried a scoop and score but failed miserably. The recovery was made by the Tigers’ Saïdi Kikunda but the ball was given to the Black Angels on the 15 yard line. An excellent position for the Black Angels to punch it in for the score. After two miscommunications between quarterback Kevin Noël and running back Brian de Caluwé the Angels settled for a field goal. Hadrien Godichal nailed it from 35 yards out and opened the scoring.

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On the ensuing drive it was Kontos again who turned heads with a beautiful pass to his wide receiver Desaever for 25 yards. Following this big gain Kontos was picked off by Black Angels’ corner Guillaume Cerfontaine. After a few good runs by Rudy Mwamba and De Caluwé the Black Angels were forced to punt again on 4th and 1.

After a great end-around by Desaever, the Tiger’s attempted a double pass with Rayane Abdelaoui throwing to Laurent van Rijsbergen.  This put the Tigers on the four yard line and two plays later Karim Abdelaoui carried the ball into the end zone to give the Tigers the lead. The two point conversion was successful and suddenly the Tigers were up by 5 points.

However, the half was far from over. Black Angels quarterback Noël threw an interception to Martin Emos on the very first play after the touchdown. After a quick three and out for the Tigers, Noël threw a second interception to Pedro Simoes. So far the Angels were having a tough time moving the ball through the air while Tigers quarterback Marshall Kontos had no trouble at all finding his receivers.

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The prodigy from the International School at Brussels said after the Belgian Bowl:

“I’ve always had tall receivers who ran crisp routes and had good hands throughout all 4 years at ISB.”

Apparently having to throw to smaller quicker receivers like Desaever was something he had to get used to. Later he added:

“It all worked itself out and I enjoyed every minute with them. Both sets of wide receivers s played very well though.”

The Tigers went into the second half with all the momentum on their side. having picked off the Black Angels quarterback two times and who was struggling. They were confident that they could widen the gap and haul in the victory in Sint-Niklaas.

The second half opened like the first one had closed with Black Angels running back Rudy Mwamba picking up first downs. Kevin Noël continued to have problems. He fumbled the ball but picked it up and threw an incompletion, only to throw another interception on the very next play.

 

The Tigers could not capitalize though. A fumble by Marshall and bad runs by running back Yassine Hartmann led to a punt which gave the Black Angels excellent field position. Back-up quarterback Francis Njufom entered the game, replacing the struggling Noël, and led the Black Angels to their first score of the second half: a 41-yard field goal by Hadrien Godichal, closing the gap to 8-6.

After a great special teams play by the Black Angels the Tigers were backed up on their own eight yard line when running back Thomas Allison broke for 20 yards to give the Tigers some breathing room. But Kevin Van De Wiele picked off Kontos two plays later taking the ball down to the 12 yard line. Then  Black Angels quarterback Njufom, took the ball in from the one for a touchdown. The momentum had shifted.

But Kontos was not ready to give up yet. With completions to Gilles Desaever and Mohamed Amouh he marched the Tigers to a second and goal on the two-yard line of the Black Angels. The Tigers wisely decided to give the ball to Martin Emos who carried the ball into the endzone. A holding call erased that touchdown and put the Tigers back to the 12 yard line. After a brilliant open field tackle by Brian de Caluwe and an illegal forward pass by Kontos (declined) the Tigers turned the ball over on downs to the Black Angels. It looked like the game was over.

The Black Angels were forced to punt five plays later. A bad punt by Hadrien Godichal, the first bad kick of the day, gave the Tigers another shot at the title. Starting from the 43-yard line, aided by a roughing the passer call, the Tigers got a 1st down on the 25 with a minute left on the clock. The double pass which had helped them score the previous touchdown, was called again but Rayane Abdelaoui let it slip through his fingers and the Black Angels defense took over not allowing the Tigers to move.

A couple of plays later the Black Angels were cheering as they won the Belgian Bowl 13-8 over a tough Brussels Tigers squad. This was the first ever Belgian championship for the Black Angels after making the trip to the final eight times.

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Luther Rommens
Luther Rommens is a young American Football player from Antwerp, Belgium and a regular contributor to AFI.
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