Las Rozas Black Demons come from behind to stay undefeated in Madrid Derby shootout

There are a lot of things you can call an exciting football game, but all seem too mild to describe what happened between the Osos Rivas and Las Rozas Black Demons on Saturday.

If it was a shootout, it was done with a Gatling gun. If it was a barnburner, then the whole city of Madrid was set ablaze.

When all is said and done, we might just call it the game of the year.

Guided by star Canadian quarterback Chris Merchant, the undefeated Black Demons came from behind to knock off their cross-town rivals 48-36 in the dying seconds and clinch first place in Spain’s West Division. In a duel of star passers, Merchant and his Osos counterpart Garrett DelleChiaie each threw four touchdowns and three different pass catchers finished with over a hundred yards as the Madrid Derby turned into an aerial showcase rarely seen on the Iberian Peninsula.

Black Demons WR David Giron #17 had 180 yards receiving in big win over Osos Rivas Photo: Lola Morales

The fireworks began as soon as the game did. Backed up against his goal line on the first play from scrimmage, DelleChiaie found a wide open Javier Barrena down the left sideline for an untouched 95-yard score. Alvaro Guitian hauled in the two point conversion and the two teams were off to the races.

The Black Demons responded quickly. Merchant found Mavin Saunders quickly in his return from injury and the 6’5″ tight end easily high-pointed the ball over a helpless Jorge Ruiz for a 38-yard touchdown.

Las Rozas surprised their opponent with an onside kick, but a penalty erased the recovery and Rivas took control. Barrena added an easy six yard touchdown on the ensuing drive and Guitian took advantage of another bust in the Las Rozas secondary to trot in a 48-yard score a series later.

Eager to keep the pressure on, the Osos attempted their own surprise onside kick, but a vicious facemask on the recovery sparked a minor brouhaha and the resulting penalties gave the Black Demons the ball at their opponent’s 16-yard line. It wouldn’t matter, as Johny Escobar left left guard David Contreras blocking air with a vicious swim move and ripped the ball from Chris Merchant’s hands to force the game’s first turnover, keeping it 22-7 at the end of the first.

Black Demons WR Mavin Saunders gave the Osos Rivas secondary problems Photo: Lola Morales

Spurred by a lackluster opening quarter, Merchant put it together in the second with a methodical drive, dinking and dunking to David Giron most of the way down the field to set up a two yard touchdown run by Marcos De La Mata.

Escobar blocked the Las Rozas point after attempt and the teams traded three and outs, but the Black Demons would end the half with a bang. Jesus Perez hauled in a spectacular 36-yard contested catch to put his team in the redzone and Merchant finished with 19-yard strike to Jesus Garcia-Valcarcel at the goal line. Giron added the two point conversion and the Demons were down just one at the break.

The Osos quickly extended that lead, opening the third with another onside kick attempt, this time recovered by Alejandro Vaquero. Adrian Jimenez punched it in from one yard out but Pablo De Diego blocked the point after to make it a seven point gap.

Black Demons RB Marcos De La Mata #45 was a key factor in the game Photo: Lola Morales

Las Rozas came back filled with fire. Chris Merchant hurdled a defender for one first down then found David Giron for 34 yards to get in scoring position. Spectacular rushing touchdowns from both Merchant and Marcos De La Mata were called back for holding, but the quarterback battled through the penalty trouble and eventually punctuating the drive himself with a one yard touchdown to finally tie the game.

It wouldn’t last long. The Demons’ coverage woes returned and Alvaro Guitian got in behind early in the fourth for a 49-yard touchdown, before double-dipping with the two point convert to take back an eight point lead.

Maxime Bonneville stripped David Giron to get the Osos back the ball, but the Black Demons defense finally held firm and momentum shifted to their offense. Mavin Saunders made a crucial 29-yard catch to get the ball rolling and Merchant found Jesus Perez three straight times to end the drive, including a two yard touchdown and two point conversion to knot things up with time ticking down.

Osos Rivas QB Garrett DelleChiaie looking downfield for a receiver Photo: Lola Morales

Pressing with the prospect of overtime looming, DelleChiaie finally made the mistake Las Rozas needed and was picked off by Javier Condes. Merchant converted a crucial fourth down gamble with his legs and it was Giron who played hero on a 10-yard cross field toss from the quarterback, hauling in the winning touchdown on his 15th catch of the game with 10 seconds remaining.

A bad snap on the point after opened the door just slightly, but DelleChiaie’s desperate final heave was picked off by William Lloyd, who trotted in a meaningless touchdown to seal a 48-36 come from behind win.

Chris Merchant played perhaps his finest European game yet in the victory, finishing 26 of 33 for 356 yards passing and four touchdowns while also leading his team with 44 yards rushing and a score on the ground. He and Guatemalan receiver David Giron were perfectly in sync, with the veteran wide out torching his former club for 180 yards and the deciding score. Tight end Mavin Saunders was second on the team with four catches for 70 yard.

Osos Rivas WR Javier Barrena hauling in pass en route to a 95 yard TD Photo: Lola Morales

Garrett DelleChiaie proved more than a capable opponent for the Canadian passer and his loaded team, pushing them to the brink by going 11 of 20 for 280 yards passing and four touchdowns before tossing the final two interceptions. Alvaro Guitian and Javier Barrena finished with almost identical stat lines, both catching four passes and two touchdowns for 128 and 124 yards respectively. Adrian Jimenez was the game’s leading rusher with 46 yards on 10 carries.

While the Black Demons remained undefeated, their crosstown rivals nearly toppled them for the second time this season. It seems a foregone conclusion that the two teams will meet once again in the playoffs, with the Osos looking like the team most capable of stopping Las Rozas’ championship hopes. Fans simply wonder how the trilogy could be better than the sequel.

J.C. Abbott is a student at the University of British Columbia and amateur football coach in Vancouver, Canada. A CFL writer for 3DownNation, his love of travel has been the root of his fascination with the global game.