Written by: Daniel Cortés Martínez

Dinos celebrating the victory | Credit: Ángel Santiago – FootballProMX

FINAL: Dinos 13-10 Raptors

The Dinos from Saltillo walked into this game being the underdogs. They only managed to win two games in the season and the Raptors were the clear favorites to advance to the final. Yet, the games in the regular season are a complete different story than the playoffs. Here, the record really does not matter that much and the teams step into the field to play for life or death. That was something that the Dinos got very clear and built up their game-plan exactly for that. It was the third time (two in a row) that these teams faced each other, so it was everything about intense film-studying and preparation.

It was not an easy game for anybody given that the mistakes were the most consistent thing in the day. The Dinos opened the offensive series with a fumble that led to the first and only touchdown for the Raptors squad. After a couple of penalties, courtesy of the Dinos, the green lizards put together a 7-play series that culminated with a touchdown run by David Rosales (No. 18). They failed to convert the extra point so they only put 6 points in the board. Then, both defenses started to take control of the game. The Raptors pressured Dinos’ quarterback Alberto García (No. 4), and Oscar Meza (No. 7) sacked him aided by Alan Retaud (No. 95) forcing the Dinos to punt away the ball.

The Raptors tried to make something work at offense and QB Bruno Marquez (No. 12) completed a beautiful 36-yard pass with Diego Viamontes (No. 34). However, Marquez was constantly under pressure and the Dinos defense got a sack of their own by the hand of Oscar Garza (No. 56). The next offensive series for the Dinos took only 3 plays to score thanks to a long run by Gerardo Álvarez (No. 3). He lined up as QB in a wildcat formation that confused the defense and took the ball 77-yards to the house, to give the Dinos their only touchdown of the evening.

Dinos vs Raptors | Credit: Ángel Santiago – FootballProMX

From that point on, the game turned into a punt festival with the defenses being the dominant entities. The Raptors offense tried several things under their repertoire, like quick passes in a no-huddle offense, option plays or intermittent deep bombs. But, it was evident that the Dinos defense was prepared for everything that the Raptors had to offer. Márquez (No. 12) could not escape the constant pressure and was sacked 5 times in total, getting hit countless times more. The Dinos offense was no better as they found no rhythm at all, and sustained short series. After the Dinos touchdown, and before the end of the first half, both teams punted the ball 6 times.

The second half continued the story of punts, sacks, penalties and mistakes. The next points for the Raptors came thanks to a safety, result of a bad center in a punt by the Dinos. However, the Raptors offense struggled mighty to move the ball and Márquez got intercepted by Jesús Cantú (No. 2) when they got something going in the attack. The Dinos offense was stagnated on their own and QB Alberto García (No. 4) got sacked by Sergio Arzave (No.2) in the next series. Then on, Márquez (No. 12) got intercepted again by Eduardo Cavazos (No. 12) in a great defensive play where he showed great awareness and anticipation in a deep pass.

The Raptors maintained a weak advantage in the scoreboard of just one point, so the game was going to be defined by the team who made the less mistakes. The Dinos accepted another safety in a strategical play that was looking forward to prevent the Raptors to got closer to the end-zone. That decision payed its dividends and the Dinos defense recovered the ball after a fumble by Viamontes (No. 34). The Dinos tied the game with a Field Goal, stopped the Raptors offense, blocked the subsequent punt and paved their way to turn the match around with another Field Goal when the clock was fading out. They only left a few seconds for the Raptors to try to complete a miracle that did not came.

That is how the Dinos knocked out the Raptors and claimed their pass to the Tazón México II. They were the most physical team and the one that committed less mistakes than the other. Praise to their defense that was the brightest spot in the field. Now, the Dinos face a massive task when they meet the Mayas in the biggest stage of the LFA. They have to be prepared for a blood-bath and need to replicate the success of their defensive unit if they want to put fight to a top-team as the Mayas. It is not going to be easy, but apparently the Dinos are comfortable with the underdog role and can give us a surprise in their debut year.