Vasco da Gama Upsets Vila Velha Tritoes in Brazil’s Superliga Playoffs

CBFA Superliga Playoffs: Conferencia Sudeste:

Conferencia Sul: #3 Vasco da Gama Patriotas-43  #2 Vila Velha Tritoes-40

Campo do Tupy – Vila Velha, Espirito Santo

Coach Gabriel Mendes adds to his legend by going on the road and knocking off #2 seed, Vila Velha, in contest that saw 5 lead changes (all in the second half) and is already being called an all-time great game.

Gabriel Mendes has never been one to mince words.

‘’It’s the best game that I’ve participated in in Brazil,’’ he said straightforwardly.

That game saw his short-handed, injury-riddled, Vasco da Gama Patriotas go on the road and engineer masterful second half comeback, capped off Vasco quarterback, Daniel Gazelle, adding the emphasis point on to the game of his career by rushing in the game winning and season-saving touchdown with 16 seconds remaining in the game.

The first half was as slow offensively, ending with a 6-0 Vila Velha lead. Then the fireworks started. Vasco snagged the lead with a Gazelle touchdown pass to Samuel Saraiva. From there, it was nearly all Tritoes, as they jumped back on top and extended their lead to as big as 11, with a score of 33-22 in the fourth quarter.

Late in the fourth quarter, with the Patriotas down 11, Vasco linebacker, João Gabriel Hollyfield gave his team a spark by forcing a fumble and getting the ball back for his offense. From there, Gazelle hit Lipe Fernandes, who had a monster game of his own, for a touchdown. The Patriotas opted for two and Gazelle converted it with a pass to Ruda Andrade. This made the score 33-30, with Vila Velha clinging to the three point lead.

Getting the ball back quickly, Gazelle connected with JP Fabres to put the Patriotas on top 36-33 (they missed the PAT) with 2 minutes and 20 seconds remaining in the game. Vila Velha’s speedy and talented offense answered the challenge emphatically with a touchdown of their own, going up 40-36 with only 1 minute and 15 seconds remaining.

Vasco da Gama fans go to the stands to celebrate with the faithful few who were able to make the 8 hour drive to Vila Velha from Rio de Janeiro. Those fans saw one of the best games of the year, and another Patriota playoff victory. Photo credit: Rafael Chaves

Vasco da Gama fans go to the stands to celebrate with the faithful few who were able to make the 8 hour drive to Vila Velha from Rio de Janeiro. Those fans saw one of the best games of the year, and another Patriota playoff victory. Photo credit: Rafael Chaves

That set the occasion for the aforementioned Gazelle touchdown run in the games waning seconds. If any team in Brazil can score a touchdown in less than a minute, it is the Vila Velha Tritoes, but Vasco linebacker, Andre ”DedecoFernandes put a stop to those ideas with a sack to end the game and give his team another playoff victory.

For Vasco, they got lifetime performances from three of their best offensive players in Gazelle, who created 5 touchdowns, Fernandes, who had close to 300 all purpose yards (receiving and returns) and Andrade, who converted numerous big third downs.

‘’They were inspiring,’’ said Mendes.

For Vila Velha Head Coach, Lener Fernandes, this loss represents a missed opportunity.

‘’We need guys to get to practice,’’ he said. ‘’We are an ok team, but when it comes to the playoffs, we just aren’t ready.’’

For Mendes, this is the latest in a line of big playoff wins, but he isn’t sitting around to soak up the victory for long.

”Now, we will study, prepare, practice even more. Because we know that we still are the underdogs. Flamengo has everybody by 2 or more possessions. They have the best offense and best defense of the League. We respect that,” he said.

Check out the highlights from this exciting game here.

Clayton Lovett
Clayton Lovett has served football in Brasil in a variety of roles, including as the member of the coaching staff of two CBFA national champions (Cuiaba Arsenal 2010, 2012). Football is his hobby. Professionally, he is the founder of CS Educacional, which provides educational and competitive opportunities abroad for student-athletes.
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