Playoff hopes still alive for America Bulls who prevail in double OT

America Bulls Potiguares – 18
UFERSA Petroleiros – 12

Estadio Pascoal de Lima – Natal, Rio Grande do Norte

Joe Small led the way and quarterback Brian Gessel put on a gutsy performance in a double overtime thriller-of-a-win that kept the Bulls in the playoff hunt.

Joe as always played well in defense and commanded the unit, which as a whole played well, rarely giving first downs and keeping the Petroleiros away from the end zone most of the game,’’ said Bulls assistant coach, Moacir Fernandes.

Small and the Bulls defense were key in keeping the Bulls in the game as their offense found their footing.
‘’It took us a while to get going on offense and fit our blocks, we had to make some adjustments,’’ said Fernandes.

Eric Ferreira scored the only Bulls touchdown in regulation. Part of that offensive stagnation was likely due to the loss of quarterback Brian Gessel, who left the game with an injury in the third quarter.

The two overtimes saw more excitement than regulation. In the first OT period, a penalty pushed the Bulls out of field goal range, and they were facing a 4th and 15. Gessel, who, although injured, returned to the field, found Felipe Eric open and converted the first down. On the next play, Gessel kept the rock on a read option and scampered into the end zone.

The Bulls opted to add pressure to the Petroleiros by going for two. ‘’We were confident our defense could get a stop,’’ said Small.

The conversion failed, leaving the Petroleiros only a short PAT kick away from victory after they scored a touchdown of their own in overtime. The kick sailed wide right, and the Bulls had new life.
In the second overtime, the Bulls got their running game going and Pedro ‘’Tractor’’ Natan plowed his way into the end-zone to give the Bulls the lead once again. This time, the Bulls opted to kick the PAT, and had it blocked by a swarming Petroleiros defense.

The second overtime possession, which decided the game, came down to a couple of big plays and a few inches, the first of which was a big stop by Bulls defensive tackle, Adriano, on 2nd and goal on the 2 yard line. The game came down to a 4th and goal on the 3. As Petroleiros quarterback Johnathan Smith flew towards the end zone, he was met by the man who has been all over the field all season for the Bulls, Joe Small. The two collided within inches of the goal-line. The ball did not cross the plane of the goal, and the Bulls escaped with a thrilling victory. ‘I met him just before he made it it,’’ said Small.

The win keeps the Bulls on track for a ‘’win and you’re in’’ matchup against the Recife Pirates for the last remaining playoff spot in Conferencia Nordeste.

‘’Now we are where we want to be . We win we are in the playoffs, so we will prepare the next two weeks to get ready for the Pirates,’’ said Small.

‘’It was a very tough game and full of excitement, and the Petroleiro’s gave their maximum but in the end we managed to prevail and and avenge last year’s loss,’’ said Fernandes. ‘’We believe we can play a great game against Recife. We will try to enforce our strong defense and fit a good game of offensively to secure a playoff birth,’’ he added.

Clayton Lovett
Clayton Lovett has served football in Brasil in a variety of roles, including as the member of the coaching staff of two CBFA national champions (Cuiaba Arsenal 2010, 2012). Football is his hobby. Professionally, he is the founder of CS Educacional, which provides educational and competitive opportunities abroad for student-athletes.
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