The Shanghai Warriors came from behind in the second half in a thrilling final to defeat the defending champion Shanghai Nighthawks 37-30 to capture the American Football League of China championship title in front of upwards of 4,000 fans this past weekend.
Paced by running back Chris Gardner who ran for two touchdowns and threw for two more, the Warriors overcame a 30-23 third quarter deficit and then held on in the fourth period for the win.
Quarterback Tim Gomez threw for 171 yards and two touchdowns and scored another one on the ground as the Warriors relied on a balanced attack. Despite the Nighthawks 390 yards rushing, they could not find the end zone in the fourth quarter and had no answer for the Warrior’s passing attack.
Nighthawks running back John Taggert rolled up 171 yards in rushing and one touchdown while Zhang Tianshou ran for 107 yards and two touchdowns in a losing cause.
In the see-saw battle, the Nighthawks took a 22-20 halftime lead as each team relied on their strengths. The Nighthawks vaunted double wing offense was running well while the Warriors found weaknesses in the Nighthawks secondary with their passing attack.
Interestingly, each team averaged seven yards a play on offense. The Warriors recorded 346 yards of offense while the Nighthawks totalled 397 yards.
According to all reports, this was by far the best organized and attended championship game in the AFLC’s brief history which bodes well for the future of American football in China.