U.A.E. American Football: Abu Dhabi Wildcats tame Dubai Stallions to retain EAFL title

March 15th, 2014

by Steve Elling via www.thenational.ae

DUBAI – In a game that featured plenty of fireworks of an atmospheric variety, the running backs from the two teams in Desert Bowl II were electric in their own right.

In fact, Davion Miller of Dubai and Vivaldi Tulysse of Abu Dhabi, both Florida natives, must have felt right at home when it started raining buckets last night at Dubai Sports City, and play was suspended for 20 minutes because of lightning in the area.

As a duo, they were thunder and lightning themselves.

Miller rushed for 104 yards, but Tulysse scored the winning touchdown on a memorable 56-yard run in the fourth quarter to help the Abu Dhabi Wildcats defend their Emirates American Football League title with a 14-13 victory on Friday night.

In conditions that felt more like Miami than Dubai, players were hauled off the field when rain began pelting the field in the second half and play was suspended as fans, players and officials fled for cover when the light show began.

So did the fireworks on the field, immediately thereafter.

On the first play after the suspension, Jeff Nicolson of Dubai caught a 19-yard touchdown to give Dubai a 13-7 lead, but Tulysse came right back.

Tulysse, who also played cornerback for Abu Dhabi, threw a scoring pass, recovered a fumble and had an interception. But the defining play was the game-breaker across a slippery surface to keep the trophy in Abu Dhabi.

“I know a lot of people are mad right now, because we weren’t supposed to win,” he said. “But they’re not mad in Abu Dhabi.”

Miller did the heavy lifting for Dubai, who lost for the first time this year. “We let it get away,” he said. Referring to Tulysse, he said: “Number 2 did it again.”

Tulysse rushed for 81 yards in nine carries and also tossed a 17-yard scoring pass.

Because of a penalty after Tulysse’s score, kicker David Brown, a Scot who had never played the game before this year, was forced to try the winning kick from 34 yards. He made it, a clutch performance on a wet field.

The only score of the first half was nothing short of spectacular.

Thanks mostly to three defensive penalties that extended a sputtering Abu Dhabi drive, the Wildcats moved to the Dubai 17-yard line in the final minutes of the first quarter. Tulysse lined up at quarterback and lobbed a pass high in the air towards the goal line, where Amos Daniels was blanketed by two Dubai defenders.

Dubai’s Rani Zahr and Mo Khudari went up after the jump ball, which was deflected in the air as all three players fell on the ground in a tangle of flailing arms and legs. The ball tumbled onto Daniels’s left leg, and crazily caromed directly into his hands a few inches into the end zone.

Tulysse, about 25 yards away, ran down the field with his hands waving in the air. He and the game officials were about the only folks in the stadium who knew what had happened, apparently. After a lengthy discussion, the officials affirmed the score to Abu Dhabi, getting the call exactly right.

The officials reviewed the play several times at half time – the video was captured on the game’s live Internet feed and a fan’s cellphone camera – and confirmed as correct.

The event had all the trappings of a small-town football game in the US, down to the hot dogs, nacho cheese and cheerleaders, pick-up trucks, men in ball-caps and little kids playing on the grass beyond the end zones.

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John McKeon is a former professional and collegiate American Football player and coach now living and working in New York. His goal is to spread news, information, and opinion on the global growth of the sport he loves.