Mexico: Liga de Fútbol Americano Profesional semifinals produced two classics including last second winning TD

Mexico’s Liga de Fútbol Americano Profesional semifinals did not end as predicted with two candidates, one completely unlikely, bucking the odds to qualify for the Tazón México V.

The Gallos Negros ended the LFA regular season on a five-game losing streak but suddenly came alive during the playoffs knocking off the Mexicas 14-7 and now the number one seeded Dinos 27-20 to advance to the championship game in their first season. In the other semifinal, the Fundidores scored on a Hail Mary pass as time ran out to defeat the Raptors 30-27.

(6) Gallos Negros de Querétaro 27 – (1) Dinos de Saltillo 20

Based on the records this year, the Gallos entered their semifinal against the Dinos as huge underdogs. However, what they proved throughout the game is that predictions are no more than that – just predicitons.

In the first quarter it was all Dinos out of the gate as they ran out to a 12-0 lead. Running back Omar Colojum rushed for one touchdown and wide receiver James Okike caught a touchdown pass from Erick Niño. Gallos responded though early in the second quarter with running back Emilio Fernandez scoring a six-yard touchdown to reduce the lead to 12-6. In the second quarter, Dinos receiver Sergio Barbosa hauled in a 14-yard touchdown pass from Nino and Gerardo Alvarez added the two-point convert to extend the lead to 20-6. Then Gallos answered with 39 yard field goal by Querétaro kicker Beto Guzman to end the first half, making the score 20-9 for the Dinos. 

Dinos WR Sergio Barbosa #14 evading Gallos LB Julio Obregon #14

In the second half, the Gallos crept closer with Guzman kicking another field goal to narrow the lead to 20-12. The defense then stepped up to neutralize the Dinos attack. Finally, with just over two minutes left in the third quarter, a high snap over the head of Dinos punter Yenny, gave Gallos the ball on the one-yard line. Two plays later, Fernandez punched the ball in to reduce the gap to 20-18 going into the final stanza. The Gallos Negros got the ball back in the fourth quarter, where Guzman kicked the longest field goal of the season, 57 yards and put his team in the lead. The finishing touch was added by Luis Humberto Lopez Tinoco who ran it in the endzone for the winning score.

With the victory, the Gallos, after winning just one game during the regular season, accomplished what no one else thought possible. They made it all the way to the title game.

(2) Fundidores de Monterrey 30 – (4) Raptors de Naucalpan 27

Fundidores WR Tavarious Battiste scored the winning TD

The Fundidores and Raptors produced a classic semifinal matchup but the game looked to be a low scoring affair until late in the third quarter. In fact, the only points scored in the entire first half came from Fundidores kicker Rodrigo Aguilar in the first quarter who gave his team a 3-0 lead. That score lasted until the third quarter when Fundidores offensive lineman Edgar Cortez pounced on a fumble in the Raptors end zone to boost the lead to 10-0.

The fourth quarter turned the game on its head, transforming it into a classic.

Early in the quarter, running back Bryan Correa got the first points on the board for the Raptors with a one-yard touchdown run to reduce the lead to 10-6. However, with a little less than 10 minutes left in the game, Fundidores quarterback Shelton Eppler threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Peña and got the Fundidores up by 11, 17-6. Then, the Raptors cut the lead to three thanks to a 50-yard pass by Bruno Marquez to wide receiver Ivan Garcia with six minutes left to narrow the lead to 17-14 with the two-point conversion. Naucalpan then grabbed the lead Correa capped a long drive with a one-yard leap into the end zone just before the two-minute warning. However, Eppler struck again 30 seconds later with a massive 66-yard touchdown bomb to wide receiver Torin Justice to give the Fundidores back the lead, 24-20.

Raptors RB Dan Avila leaped into the end zone with 15 seconds left

The scoring was still not over in this thriller as the Raptors were able to get into their opponents red zone on their next drive and running back Dan Avila with 15 seconds left to go and leading 27-24. There was still time left on the clock though and Fundidores quarterback Shelton Eppler proved to the league why he is the most valuable player. He tossed a deep pass to Torin Justice at the 43-yard line and the wily receiver managed to step out of bounds.  Then with five seconds left, Eppler stepped back and heaved the ball to wide receiver Tavarious Battiste who broke one tackle at the 20 and outraced the defenders to score the winning touchdown with no time left on the clock.

A recent graduate of Hofstra University in New York. He is currently a sports freelance journalist and podcaster