The Cacais Crusaders pulled off arguably the upset of the year in Europe by knocking off the undefeated Lisboa Devils 27-26 at the Campo das Fontaínhas in Cascais, Portugal on Sunday.
The Lisboa Devils, 2016 and 2017 Portuguese champions, had not lost a game in Portugal since May 2015 , a streak of 26 games, and had beaten the Crusaders easily in the first game of the season, 56-22. In fact, Cacais had only won one of their five games entering this contest.
And yet they found a way to punch a hole in the Devils shield of invincibility.
Crusaders backup quarterback Matias Manuel, replacing injured starter Manuel Farano, was magnificent, scoring two touchdowns, one a 90 yard run on the opening play of the game. Wide receiver Vinicius Moreira also scored as did running back Alexandre Henriques.
Devils quarterback Kyle Nolan, threw four touchdown passes, two to Bernardo Solipa and one each to Pedro Flores and Brazilian running back Willian La’Prado.
The Crusaders shocked Lisboa with the opening touchdown but Devils quarterback Kyle Nolan managed to regroup his team and they scored two touchdowns in the first quarter, one on a pass from Nolan to wide receiver Solipa and the second by Willian La’Prado. They missed the extra points though which turned into a key factor.
Cacais regained the lead 13-12 in the second quarter on Manuel’s second touchdown as Rodolfo Cruz kicked the extra point.
Then, with the Crusaders defense finding ways to stymie the Lisboa offense, Cacais struck again, this time as Manuel found wider receiver Vinicius Moreira in the end zone. With the extra point, Cacais held a 20-12 lead in the third quarter.
Nolan got untracked in the fourth quarter connecting with wide receiver Pedro Flores to pull closer, 20-18. But the Crusaders answered with a long drive capped by a touchdown by running back Alexandre Henriques to give Cacais a 27-18 lead.
Solipa then scored his second touchdown of the day, hauling in a pass from Nolan. Running back Juzz Tiny scored on a two-point conversion and the Devils pulled to within one point, 27-26 with almost no time remaining. But the Crusaders snuffed out the expected onside kick and the celebrations began on the Cacais sideline.
Crusaders head coach Paulo Terrinca:
“It was a very good feeling to win a game against a very strong opponent. We got a win we really needed. This question [about ending the invincibility] is an issue for the Devils, not us.”
Devils head coach André Amorim:
“About the game, we are above all disillusioned with ourselves, for not having played according to what is our true potential as a team. We have something to improve on, we want to improve on the three phases of the game: offense, defense and special teams. It will be the next step against the Lumberjacks. In addition, I also believe that this result will relaunch the playoff championship to four of the five South Group teams. It will be interesting to see what will happen in the coming weeks.”
The result keeps the Cascais Crusaders in the fourth place in the South Group with a record of 2-4. The next game is scheduled for January 27, when the Crusaders visit Évora to play against the winless Évora Eagles (0-6).
The Lisbon Devils are now down to second place in the South with a 5-1 record. The Lisboners return to the field on February 3, when they host the Paredes Lumberjacks (0-5) in the capital.