China Round of 16: Qingdao Conquerors escape upset, advance to Final 8

The Chinese National Football League Round of 16 produced a nail biter and near upset as well as a forfeit as the 33 team league gets down to the Final 8.

Qingdao wins in the final minute

Qingdao Conquerors 21 – Shanghai Nighthawks 16

In Qingdao, the Number 1 seed in the North division, the Qingdao Conquerors, took on the Shanghai Nighthawks, the 4th seed from the East. It was a thriller, with the Conquerors scoring the game-winning touchdown in the final minute to win.

Qingdao’s opening possession of the game couldn’t have gone any worse, as #94 Liang Zihao (梁梓豪) picked off a short pass and ran it back 40 yards the other way to make it a quick 8-0 for the visitors. Qingdao would respond with a 15-yard rushing touchdown by running back #86 Zhang Junwei (张峻玮) to make it 8-7.

The score would remain that way going into halftime as both offenses kept trying to establish the run but were unsuccessful.

In the second half, the Nighthawk’s one-man wrecking crew, Liang Zihao, once again took over, picking up a fumble and returning it for his second touchdown as the Nighthawks took a 16-7 lead. The score remained that way through the final period. With three minutes left, Qingdao finally got their second touchdown of the game, thanks to a crucial Nighthawks defensive pass interference that placed the ball at the three-yard line. Quarterback #17 Tong Yi finally punched the ball in and made it a 14-16 game.

The Nighthawk’s offense predictably ran the ball on the ensuing drive to use up the Conquerors’ remaining timeouts. On third down, Qingdao’s star defender, #0 Sasha, made a massive play of his own, coming in on a blitz and causing a fumble. The Nighthawks were forced to punt from deep within their territory and give the Conquerors’ offense good field position for one last do-or-die attempt.

With under a minute left, Zhang Junwei scored the game-winner from one yard out to put Qingdao up 21-14.

The Nighthawk’s offense then got the ball with one last chance, but Sasha came up big again with an interception on a deep pass to seal the game for the Conquerors.

This game was a defensive battle, as both offenses were largely ineffective. The Conquerors advance to the quarterfinals for the third straight year. They will host the Guangzhou Goats who won their game against the Chongqing McFuries in a forfeit.

Chongqing McFuries forfeit against Guangzhou Goats

Sadly, the second and last forfeit in the first round took place on the same side of the bracket as the first, as the Chongqing McFuries forfeited their first-round game against the Guangzhou Goats. The Goats advance to the quarterfinals, where they must make a long 1,598 km trip from Guangzhou to Qingdao where they will face a full-strength Conqueror defense that held the Shanghai Nighthawks offense to under 100 total yards and zero completions.

Allen Hu is a Chinese-American who grew up playing American Football in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania. He primarily spends his time in both the United States and China