Drama galore in Chinese National Football League’s second week of action

The Chinese National Football League’s season continues as they played their second-round games during the second and third weekends of September, and football fans would have been sated with the drama that sprung up as two games went to overtime and the game of the week had a literal lights out finish to end in a tie.

Conquerors derail Zhengzhou 28-3

Qingdao Conquerors 28 – Zhengzhou Steamer 3, China Licang Sports Park, Qingdao

The Qingdao Conquerors claimed their first victory of the 2020 season by shutting down the Zhengzhou Steamer and rolling to a 28-3 victory.

The Conquerors set the tone early by notching a safety to open the scoring, and it only snowballed from there.

Fullback Jerry (#86) would tack on another touchdown, and then #2 Sasha, playing both ways at strong safety and wide receiver, would also score both ways, first by returning a pick 6, and then hauling a long pass from QB #17 Tony.

With their bread and butter running game that had looked so strong week 1 completely neutralized by the Qingdao defense, the Steamer could only manage a field goal to avoid the shutout.

Smilodons down Street Cats in overtime, move to purr-fect 2-0

Hangzhou Smilodons 21 – Shanghai Street Cats 14, Huasu Lingyun Football Park, Hangzhou

In Hangzhou, the Smilodons moved to 2-0 after surviving the Shanghai Street Cats in a double-overtime thriller.

The Smilodons had a dream start as their offense opened up the game by efficiently moving down the field to score a touchdown, and were immediately gifted a second touchdown as the Street Cats somehow lost the ball on the ensuing kickoff, allowing the Smilodons to pick up the live ball and run it in for a touchdown. Meanwhile, the Smilodons defense looked strong as usual as the Smilodons went into the half with a 14-0 lead.

The second half played out very differently as the Street Cats offense came to life as QB Pony (#1) channeled his inner George Blanda by shredding the Smilodons’ defense through the air and on the ground on the way towards the Shanghai’s first touchdown, and the Street Cats made a heads up special teams play of their own later on when a Smilodons punt was blocked by a Street Cats’ defender’s helmet and ricocheted back the other way. The Street Cats would recover at the 10-yard line and they didn’t waste the opportunity to tie the game up at 14 apiece, and the score would remain that way at the end of regulation.

In the first overtime period, both teams traded possessions, but in the second overtime, the Smilodons were finally able to score their first points since the first quarter to win and move their record to 2-0.

Tigers survive Titans in overtime 

Foshan Tigers 22 – Shanghai Titans 20, Skyway Field, Foshan

Down in Guangdong province, the second overtime game of the week took place between the Foshan Tigers and the Shanghai Titans.

Foshan drew first blood on a 40-yard touchdown pass, which was aided by a Titans defender misjudging the pass and whiffing on the interception attempt, allowing the receiver to walk in untouched. A successful 2 point conversion made it 8-0 Tigers.

The Titans, unused to being in an underdog position after years of being at the top of the league, came out in an old-school Wing T offense, a necessary adaptation after their starting quarterback tore his ACL in Week 1.

The Titans offense surprised the Tigers when facing a 4th and short, the Titans elected not to run the ball and instead QB Stone hit WR Jin on a go route behind a flummoxed Tigers defense for a touchdown.

Neither team would generate much offense after that, the lone exception being Foshan engineering an 80-yard drive to go ahead 14-6 at halftime.

With two veterans in CB Xiaoming (#25) and DL Gary (#93) leading the charge, the Titans defense came to life in the second half, defanging the Tigers’ offense and coming away with multiple interceptions. The Titans defense would end up with a total of 4 interceptions during the game, 2 by Xiaoming and 2 more by #32 Ben Wong, who had returned to his hometown Macao before the COVID outbreak, but was able to make the 100 km trip from Macao to Guangzhou to play for the Titans, and played well in what is likely his only game of the season.

Despite the Titans’ heroics on defense, Foshan’s defense was equally up to the task and the Tigers held an 8 point 4th quarter lead, but disaster struck near the end of the game. A high snap made it 3rd and nearly 50, and then a fumble on 4th down gave the Titans the ball at the Foshan 20 yard line with just a few minutes left.

The Titans would score in the most dramatic way possible: on the final play of regulation. Foshan gang-tackled the Titans fullback and the celebrations began on the Tigers’ sideline only to end abruptly as QB Stone had pulled the ball out and ran it in himself untouched, and then it was the Titans bench that was celebrating.

In overtime, the Tigers elected to defend first. The Titans would score on their offensive possession, a touchdown pass by Stone, who completed 3 for 5 passes with 2 touchdowns on the day. to take a 20-14 lead, but were unable to convert the 2 point attempt.

The Tigers would tie the game up and the 2 point conversion was good as the Tigers Running Back was left open in the flat to give Foshan a narrow 22-20 victory and even their record at 1-1 for the season.

“Just 5 more minutes?” Lights out Finish in Guangzhou

Chengdu Pandaman 20 – Guangzhou Apache 20, Guangzhou Number 3 Middle School, Guangzhou

Guangdong Province was the center of football drama as the other game taking place in the province, the much anticipated Apaches-Pandaman matchup, had the most improbable result when the game ended in a 20-20 draw when time ran out on the field rental and the facility shut down.

The game kicked off at 7:30 pm and after a scoreless first quarter, it was the Apaches who got on the board first with running back #24 Chen Nan Zhi finishing off a long Apaches drive, but the Pandaman quickly evened up the score with a touchdown of their own.

The Apaches’ defense then came through with a score of their own late in the first half as #4 Yang Shui Quan intercepted an errant Pandaman pass by QB #7 Ivan and took it back to give the Apaches the lead again.

However, in the 3rd quarter, the Pandaman offense would respond with their second touchdown of the game, which was aided by a whopping 45 yards worth of horse-collar penalties. Chengdu would convert the 2 point conversion to tie up the score at 14 all going into the fourth and final quarter.

The Apaches would once again take the lead, this time by fooling Chengdu on a play-action pass, leaving #27 Lun Wen Jun wide open in the end zone for the 20-14 lead.

Used to 4th quarter deficits, Chengdu was not phased in the least, and Ivan and his Chengdu offense would quickly respond with a scoring drive of their own to tie the game up yet again at 20-20.

With just over 5 minutes left in the deadlock, chaos would ensue as the school’s Field Manager made an announcement: The facility was closing as the field had only been rented until 11 pm. After hurried negotiations, a compromise was struck: “Just 5 more minutes.”, a plea familiar to a lot of people.

At the end of these last 5 minutes, the Pandaman had the ball with one last chance to win the game, but when they turned the ball over on downs, the game would end in a draw that leaves each team at 1-0-1.

Barbarians pick up a pair of wins.

Beijing Barbarians 48 – Beijing Cyclones 12, Yingshi Park, Beijing

Beijing Barbarians 34 – Shenyang King Kong 7, Changbai Island Football Theme Park, Shenyang

Beijing played a pair of games within the past 2 weeks, first was a crosstown “Battle of the Bei” rivalry with the Cyclones, followed by a road trip to Shenyang to face the King Kong.

The Barbarians destroyed the Cyclones 48-12, with Running Back #84 Cao Yu racking up over 200 yards in the game. Not to be outdone, his backfield compadre #37 Chang Yun Peng had a 95-yard touchdown run of his own. The few chances the Cyclones had on offense was squandered when their receivers dropped a few passes, and when the Barbarians ratcheted up their pass rush in the 2nd half the Cyclones were downgraded to a stiff breeze.

Against Shenyang the Barbarians continue to roll, winning by a 34-7 margin, this time through the air with #7 Ma Zhen and #17 Duan Tianci hauling in touchdown passes as the Barbarians moved to 2-0 on the season. The King Kong fell to 0-2, and face the also-0-2 Zhengzhou Steamer in their next game in what is an essential elimination game.

With the first half of the season in the books, the playoff picture is starting to take shape, and with only two games left, the margin for error is nil and the current standings are as follows:

Beijing Barbarians 2-0

Hangzhou Smilodons 2-0

Chengdu Pandaman 1-0-1

Guangzhou Apaches 1-0-1

Shanghai Titans 1-1

Foshan Tigers 1-1

Qingdao Conquerors 1-1

Zhengzhou Steamer 0-2

Shanghai Street Cats 0-2

Shenyang King Kong 0-2

In Week 3, playoff seedings are on the line as the top teams look to keep their spot while others look to make up ground in the following games:

Beijing Barbarians @ Shanghai Titans

Foshan Tigers @ Chengdu Pandaman

Shenyang King Kong @ Zhengzhou Steamer

Qingdao Conquerors @ Shanghai Street Cats

Guangzhou Apache @ Hangzhou Smilodons

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