After a two week break between the end of the regular season and the first weekend of the playoffs, football was BACK in Portugal. And with four teams competing for the two available slots in the next phase, the games took on a much bigger meaning.
Algarve Sharks 50 – Cacais Crusaders 22
The Cascais Crusaders (6-3-0) played host to the Algarve Sharks (4-4-1) one month after both teams have faced each other with the Crusaders coming out with a big 38-18 win in that earlier game. However this game had a whole new meaning and as they like to say it was “crunch time”.
The Sharks came out showing a whole new offense and were able to move the ball either by rushing the ball or passing it around. The first touchdown came on a 30 yard pass from John Holloway to Preston Bailey. The two point conversion was made on a run by Holloway. On the ensuing kickoff, the Sharks special teams were able to recover the ball and set up their offense. Holloway took care of business and ran the ball himself for a touchdown. The dual threat Augustine Ume-Ezeoke took the ball into the end zone for two points.
It was almost end of first quarter when the Crusaders had their first offensive possession but they were able to move the ball and Juzz Tiny was a man on a mission to find the end zone, which he did and added the first points for his team.
In the second quarter the Sharks offense kept on scoring with two more touchdowns. Both were touchdown passes from Holloway to Bailey who scored three touchdowns in the game, all before halftime.
On the second half the Crusaders fought to get back into the game but the Sharks didn’t allowed much room. They scored another touchdown on a deep pass from Holloway to Domonique Jefferson. The Crusaders were able to score before the last quarter and there was a glimpse of a possible comeback by a team that has been able to win games in the last quarter, more than any other team in the league.
Already in the last quarter the Sharks offense had a fumble that was then recovered by their “man of the match” John Holloway who ran more than 40 yard for another touchdown for his team. After that the Crusaders marched all the way down to the 1 yard line but got stopped when Augustine Ume-Ezeoke forced a turnover. After that Holloway threw his fifth passing touchdown when he found Jefferson for the second time in the game.
Before the end of the game the running back for the home team – Duarte Antunes – scored the last touchdown of the game. The final result was 50-22 for the Algarve Sharks who won the game in a major way and now are going to face the Lisboa Devils in a rematch from last year championship game.
Porto Mutts 22 – Braga Warriors 9
The Porto Mutts (6-3-0) played host to the Braga Warriors (4-4-1) in a game that was highly anticipated by two teams that know each other very well. These two teams have been in a rivalry for several years with the Mutts coming out on top more times than the Warriors.
The game started in a very physical fashion with both teams exchanging possessions offensively. The Mutts were the first team to break that stride with a rushing touchdown by Edson Silva with the home team making use of their big and powerful offensive line. The extra point was converted. Before halftime the only points scored were made on a field goal that João Pitrez, the kicker for the Warriors, hit right down the middle.
In the second half both teams were able to start moving the ball more with defenses dropping their guards a bit. The Mutts scored on a rushing touchdown by Francisco Pereira and the extra point was made. When the Warriors tried to answer, the Mutts defense was able to put some points on the board with a safety.
In the last quarter, the Warriors did all they could to get back into the game and they were in fact able to finally visit the end zone when the quarterback Tiago Ranhada found wide receiver João Ribeiro. However, the Mutts didn’t let the Warriors celebrate for too long because almost immediately after that they scored again on a rushing touchdown by Nélson Fernandes. This ended up sealing the Mutts win with a final result of 22-9.
The Mutts will now face the Maia Renegades in a very anticipated game between two teams that in the last time they faced were separated only by one point.
Next games (Semi-Finals)
March 25 – 5:00pm in Lisbon with Algarve Sharks facing Lisboa Devils
March 26 – 3:00pm in Maia with Porto Mutts facing Maia Renegades