Brussels Tigers Juniors Three-peat As Belgian Champions

Last Sunday,  the defending champion Brussels Tigers U19 team captured their third straight Belgian championship downing the Ostend Pirates 28-18 in Izegem, Belgium.

Although this was the third consecutive appearance in the final for the Tigers it was the Pirates first trip to the title game in their history.

The Tigers entered the game after winning five of six regular season games and dominating their two playoff games, outscoring the Brussels Black Angels and Charleroi Coal Miners by a combined total of 80-0. The sole game the Tigers lost in 2015 was at the hands of the Pirates.

This was a showdown.

Close first half

Since the two teams had already met each other in the regular season they knew their opponents very well. This became clear after back to back three and outs. In those two series the coaches played it safe by using their running games. The second series for the Tigers brought a clear change of pace. Running back Thomas Allison picked up steam and took the team on his back. Finishing the drive with an impressive 5-yard run the Tigers opened the score 6-0 (2-point conversion by Allison was stopped).

On the possession, the Ostend Pirates commited a costly turnover, fumbling the football in their own half. The Tigers did not look back and with a 27-yard pass from quarterback Alex Lemasson to receiver Manoka Boka (2-point conversion successful by Allison) on fourth down they were up two scores 14-0.Junior Bowl Tigers vs Pirates

Stunned by the two fast scores the Pirates were on their heels. Again Brussels put together a good drive. A strip-sack turned the tide. Lemasson held on the ball too long and was tackled by Aaron Verbiest. On contact the ball came out and Verbiest recovered the ball. The Pirates took full advantage as fullback Tibo Debaillie took place under center and punched the ball in from the two yard line to close the gap to 14-6 (PAT failed).

Momentum changes in favour of  Tigers.

In the start of the second half the momentum seemed to change. Ostend Pirates quarterback Kevin Raets found receiver Thibaud Ghesquiere for 15 yards to start the drive off. However, the big gain was negated by a holding call against Ostend. The penalty pushed the Pirates back to their own 20 with 20 yards to travel on first down. Then, disaster struck for the young Pirates. A fumble set up the Tigers deep in Pirates territory. Brussels standout Allison scored his second touchdown of the day to extend the lead to 22-6 (2-point conversion by Allison).

The Pirates answered with another touchdown run by Tibo Debaillie and cut the lead to 10 points (22-12, 2-point conversion missed). After this score the game turned into a defensive battle. Both teams struggled to hold on to the ball.

After another fumble by the Ostend offense handed the ball back to the Tigers who then scored their last touchdown of the game as running back Ben Abdellaoui bulled his way into the end zone  to give his team a comfortable 16 point lead, 28-12 (2-point conversion missed).

The Ostend Pirates kept on playing valiantly but never got back in the game. In the last minute of the game Ostend fullback Tibo Debaillie scored his third touchdown of the day and brought the final score up to 28-18 (2-point conversion missed).

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