China: Shanghai Beacon Wolves, Hangzhou Smilodons roll to semifinal wins

The Chinese Government slowly lifted travel restrictions throughout December, enabling both semifinals of the 2022-2023 Chinese National Football League season to be played.

The Hangzhou Smilodons proved why they have been a dominant force in China in recent years while the Shanghai Beacon Wolves kept their impressive unbeaten streak alive in winning the Battle of Shanghai.

Smilodons shut down Conquerors

Hangzhou Smilodons 17 – Qingdao Conquerors 6

The Hangzhou Smilodons beat the Qingdao Conquerors to make their second championship appearance since 2020. Both teams brought imposing defenses into the game. It showed as the only points scored in the first half was on a single colossal play when Hangzhou’s WR #6 Wong Zhongzheng (王中正) scored a 50-yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Smilodons at halftime.

Qingdao’s defense did all they could as star safety #0 Sasha returned an interception 90 yards to make it 7-6 Hangzhou after the 2-point attempt was no good. However, that would be all she wrote for Qingdao. Hangzhou’s defense completely shut the Qingdao offense out, and their offense found enough points to seal the victory as the Smilodons advanced to the championship game.

Beacon Wolves continue to roll, top defending champs

Shanghai Beacon Wolves 26 – Shanghai Titans 6

In an all-Shanghai semifinal, the Beacon Wolves continued their impressive run as they beat the Shanghai Titans for the second time this season.

Like most of the Beacon Wolves’ opponents, the Titans came in planning to run the ball and control the time of possession to keep the Beacon Wolves’ offense off the field. It seemed to be working early on, as it took until the second quarter for the high-powered Beacon Wolves offense to score their first points of the game as quarterback Tim Gomez #22 found an open receiver to make it 8-0 Beacon Wolves after the 2-point conversion was good.

The Titans’ commitment to the running game soon paid dividends as they found their way into the end zone but could not convert the 2-point try, and the score stood at 8-6.

However, things would start going the Beacon Wolves’ way as the Beacon Wolves’ defense intercepted an errant Titans pass. Then star player wideout Ricky Jones #4 took a short pass and ran it the rest of the way to make it 14-6 Beacon Wolves at halftime.

Two more Beacon Wolves touchdowns in the second half, including a pick-six by Jones, would ice the game for the Beacon Wolves.

With this win, the Shanghai Beacon Wolves advanced to their first championship game, where they would meet the Hangzhou Smilodons in a rematch from the regular season.

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