The Wuhan Berserkers made history in China when they defeated the Shanghai Titans 36-13 at the Zhangjiang Sports Center in Shanghai, in the Chinese National Football League championship game, earning their very first title and becoming the first non-Shanghai team to win the Chinese title since 2013.
Football is a game of inches and yards, and this year’s championship game exemplified this. Early on the game was back and forth, but the big difference was that twice in the first half, the Titans’ offense drove deep into the Wuhan red zone, and twice they came away empty-handed.
In contrast, twice Wuhan drove deep into the Titans red zone, and twice their star quarterback Jarred Evans (#5) would punch the ball in fourth and goal. Evans would then connect on a beautiful deep ball to Wang Shida (#1) and for a moment, it looked like the Berserkers would do to the Titans what they did to the Shanghai Warriors just a few weeks earlier in the semifinals.
However, the Titans would stiffen on defense and late in the first half they finally found the scoreboard after Datong Wang (#9) connected with Thomas Defede (#6) to cut the lead to 22-7. However, Evans would immediately lead the Berserkers on a brilliant two-minute offense, capping it off with his second touchdown pass of the first half, this time to Wu (Nash) Jinjin to make it 28-7 going into halftime.
Shanghai came out swinging in the second half as they looked to re-establish their running game, with running back Ben Wong (#32) finding the endzone after fooling the Wuhan defense on a counter option. It looked like the momentum had turned and a Shanghai Titans comeback was in the cards after the Titans recovered the ensuing onside kick attempt. However, Robert Williams (#9) and the Wuhan defense rose up and stymied the comeback effort by the Titans and their twin backfield of Wong and Dominik Pflumm (#13), who also saw time at quarterback.
To their credit, the Titans’ defense and special teams did everything they could to keep their team in the game, as they were able to force Evans into his worst game in China by intercepting a pair of passes and recovering a muffed Wuhan punt, but the Berserkers were just too formidable an obstacle to overcome and one more Evans touchdown pass made it 36-13.
After an incredible season, the Berserkers finished their season undefeated and definitively established themselves as the best team in China. They have set the standard higher than ever for the rest of the country, and despite losing Evans to Switzerland’s Bern Grizzlies next year, they will return many talented players and will surely be the favorites next season.
As for the Titans, although their season came to a close with a disappointing loss, they overachieved this season. After losing many talented players from last year’s runners-up squad, the Titans were forced to reload with many new unproven rookies, and despite suffering a rash of injuries during this season, they were able to find a way to win many close games, including beating the defending champions, the Shanghai Warriors and making it to the Championship game.