Lobos De Quito defend title in Ecuador

The defending champion Lobos de Quito had to come from behind last weekend in the Copa Mitad Del Mundo (Ecuador’s “Middle of the World cup”) the  Ecuadorian American football federation (FFAE) championship game, to defeat  arch rivals the  Colorados de Santo Domingo 49-19.

This was unfamiliar territory for the Lobos. Twice in the first half and for the first time all season they found themselves trailing in a game. But once they turned up the intensity, the game changed.

Lobos head coach Owen Krebs:

“This National Championship will go down in FFAE history as the hardest hitting, tit for tat game ever played on Ecuadorian soil.”

The game started out with the Lobos winning the coin toss and electing to be on defense first. This gave the ball to the Colorado’s on their own 20-yard line but it was a quick three and out and an overall 1 yard gain that would lead to an unassuming 4th down punt.

However, the Colorado’s came out of the huddle with a spread-out punt formation that confused the Lobos de Quito’s return team. When the ball was quickly punted by #1 Enric Castillo, the multi positioned Spaniard (QB/S/RB/P) and HC of the Colorado’s, to the PR/S #13 Gazzu Hidalgo of the Lobos, the majority of Lobos blockers did not know who to go after. That, mixed with the rolling fog and natural mist in the air of the city of Santo Domingo (located in a rain cloud forest) left Hidalgo to attempt a catch with several Colorado’s nearby. Subsequently, Hidalgo touched/fumbled the ball with a Colorado’s recovery deep in Lobos territory. This played into great field position for the Colorado’s with just 3 minutes off the clock in the 1st quarter. 5 plays later, the Colorado’s keyed in on the overall pumped up and aggressive defense of the Lobos and got them to bite hard on a run pitch/WR reverse which then was ran in for the first TD of the game by #82 WR Esteben Quintero Diaz.

Shocked but not shook, the Lobos de Quito decided to look themselves in the mirror and see what they were truly made of when the scoreboard was not on their side. The offense took the field and let out an 8-minute march down the field, taking up the rest of the 1st quarter and into the 2nd quarter, finally scoring with a run up the middle by RB #23 Cristian Chavez on the 5-yard line. The point after kick was good by K #23 Jordan Munoz unlike that of the Colorado’s previous attempt and the score thus stood 7-6!

But the Colorado’s knew a battle would ensue this game and upon return of the field once again took advantage of their run heavy offense to lighten the load a bit with a fake run out to the left by QB #10 Zack Tello and then a throw deep down the sideline behind the CB #23 Jordan Munoz to WR #83 Marlon Aquilar. With no Safety in the Lobos 4-3 package it was an easy score. The extra point attempt this time around was good for the Colorado’s, thus giving the Santo Domingians a 13-7 lead.

The following drive started ridden with penalties for the Lobos offense. Finally, on a third down and long, Lobos QB #7 Jonathan Torres threw a 30-yard bomb down the middle of the field in an attempt to connect with star player WR #1 Alexis Herrera. Read well by Safety #1 Enric Castillo however, the ball was intercepted and returned to midfield. The Colorado’s then tried to capitalize on their field position but the Lobos defense stepped up to the plate. With fire in their chests, and having their backs against the wall, the Lobos de Quito defense forced a fumble and return by DE #94 Jorge Tayupanta only to have it called back. Then, relentlessly striving for a turnover, on the following play the QB #1 Enric Castillo was pressured by DT #98 Gabriel Sosa just enough with a hand in his face tipping the thrown ball and intercepted for a 50 yard “pick six” by OLB #50 Ruben Rosado down the right sideline. Going for two with success, the new score became 13-15 Lobos, with just under 7 minutes to go in the second quarter.

The Colorado’s re-took the field without any luck, and on fourth down punted once again to PR/S #13 Gazzu Hidalgo. This time around, Hidalgo did not disappoint, and instead of muffing the kick was able to have an electrifying return for thirty yards putting the Lobos on the Colorado’s 20-yard line in excellent field position to rack up another TD. The Lobos swiftly took action with a great play call by OC Brad Scott and catch by WR #84 Luis Romero to put the Lobos literally 1 yard from the goal line. Then, a run up the middle lead by the stud 41-year-old FB #24 Paul Suquillo and run in by RB #23 Cristian Chavez put the Lobos up by nearly a two-point possession at 21-13. Unfortunately, the 2-PT conversion wasn’t good.

Watch a replay of the game here

Leading into the last 2 minutes of the half, and the Lobos up by 8 pts, the Colorado’s needed to get something going and quickly before going inside for the 12-minute break. With their two WR formation, QB #1 Enric Castillo intended to lob a deep ball to the slot receiver but underthrew him just enough for S #13 Gazzu Hidalgo to intercept him and run it back 10 yards before getting tackled. Now with just a minute left, the Lobos de Quito were given excellent position to score before half time. They did just that with a first down and then when inside the 10-yard line on the following play had OC Brad Scott call an unanticipated bootleg run for QB #7 Jonathan Torres. With Lobos, up by 14 points, 27-13, they should have opted for a field goal but instead once again went for two points without luck, thus ending the first half.

Second half began underway with an altercation between both HC’s Owen Krebs of the Lobos de Quito and Enric Castillo of the Colorado’s de Santo Domingo. A well disputed argument took place over who would begin the second half. Unimaginably, the Colorado’s were able to manipulate the coin toss in such a way that they started with the ball once again for the second half.

With clear violations of NCAA rules, the Lobos offense came out onto the field to calm down Coach Krebs mentioning not to worry they were still going to win the game. With those words, Coach Krebs resigned his stance momentarily to let the game proceed but not his attitude or memory of what took place. The drive turned out in favor of the Colorado’s with personal fouls against the Lobos helping them go down and score with a tight end out route pass from QB #1 Enric Castillo to TE #30 Eduardo Maquisaca. Again, the 2 PT conversion was no good making it an 8-point game 27-19 Lobos de Quito.

From there the Colorado’s stopped the Lobos de Quito 3 and out and the same happened for the Colorado’s on their following drive. Upon return to the field, the Lobos de Quito offense started at their own 30-yard line only to have one of the greatest plays in FFAE history occur, a 70-yard Quarterback run by QB #7 Jonathan Torres. This, combined with a converted 2 points put the Lobos up in the third 35-19. The run by the QB of the Lobos truly took some air out of the Colorado’s efforts.

Nonetheless, the Colorado’s manned up and drove down the field to the lobos 5-yard line through the third quarter and into the fourth. Down by 16 points (2 TDs plus 2 Two-Pt Conversions) it was now or never for them to score. It all came down to one play, 4th and goal. The Lobos called a Safety blitz with #13 Gazzu Hidalgo and he screamed through the strong side A gap to make a sack for a loss of 10 yards and a turnover on downs. When the Lobos offense returned to the field they smelled blood. They drove down and scored with a corner end zone route to WR #84 Luis Romero. The 2 Pt conversion was good and the Lobos took a much larger lead of 43-19 in the fourth quarter.

The Colorado’s hopes were truly diminished and especially so once their third down attempt turned into a muffed snap and fumble recovery by Lobos. The Lobos de Quito took the field with great scoring positon and did that with a run by RB #20 Wladimir Pilozo. The 2 Pt conversion did not go through, but the HC Owen Krebs was soaked in Gatorade and the crowd new who would be two time national champs once and for all.

In summary, the game was a hard fought, well played and well coached American Football game on both sides in the country of Ecuador. The sport has grown immensely in just two years  and the FFAE as a whole looks forward to taking another huge leap in 2018. Stayed tuned for more news on the growth of the entire league in 2018 via the Facebook page “Federacion de Football Americano Ecuador”.

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