By: Daniel Cortés Martínez
The much anticipated clash between these two football titans in the semi-finals delivered exactly what was expected, an afternoon filled with high level play and heart-bumping performance that left the attendees and viewers on the verge of their seats until the last minutes of the game.
The Mexicas started the tilt in a big way, as QB Ricardo Quintana (No. 5) connected early with sensational WR Guillermo Villalobos (No. 84) who broke a pair of tackles leaving the Red Warriors offense at the brink of the first points of the afternoon; however, a fumble in the red-zone prevented them of doing so and turned the ball over to the defending champions. For their part, the Mayas attack tried to surprise quickly with deep shots, but this time QB Marco García (No. 12) was off target most of the time, throwing long passes that never had an opportunity to land on the hands of his receivers.
The Mexicas offense followed up carving the middle of the field with quick passes which found no answer from the Mayas defense, completing a second trip to the red-zone halted abruptly because of yet another fumble recovered by Diego Magaña (No. 92) of the Mayas defense. The Mexicas defense stepped up and did an amazing job neutralizing, for most of the game, star RB Omar Cojolum (No. 1) which was one of the biggest keys of the game for the visiting defense. With this accomplishment, the Mayas offense lacked the usual explosiveness and was contained for most of the first quarter.
With their third charge of the day, the Mexicas pounded the middle of the field via power runs with RB Vladimir Araiza (No. 33) and kept shooting quick passes to earn another trip to the red-zone. But this time, the Red Warriors could not leave without points, finally finding the end-zone with a 20-yard run by Quintana (No. 5) penetrating the promised land in the left corner aided by a couple of blocks by Jorge Muñiz (No. 10) and Villalobos (No. 84). Side Note: Finally the Mexicas addressed their special teams issues finding consistency in the extra points attempts. Next up, the Mayas offense responded quickly after a sustained series marked by an escape by Cojolum (No. 1), and a scramble by García (No. 12) who found the end-zone after a 13-yard run tying the game in the second quarter.
The connection between Quintana (No. 5) with his receivers was on point all the game, specially with Villalobos (No. 84) and Raúl Mateos (No. 18), proving to be fruitful granting the Mexicas yet another trip to the red-zone culminating with a Touchdown by Quintana through the middle. Special mention here to the formidable offensive line leaded by center Rafael Sánchez (No. 59), Jorge Ramírez (No. 69) and Francisco Sainz (No. 51). The Mayas could not find rhythm in their passing game which was marked by uncharacteristically drops and off the target passes.
With stout defensive play the Mexicas forced a fumble out of the hands of Cojolum (No. 1) at the beginning of the 3rd quarter ending with a Field Goal to give the Red Warriors a 17-10 lead. At the 4th period, the Mayas finally found some spark in the deep passing game as Marco García (No. 12) connected with WR Josue Martínez (No. 81) after a killer pump-fake that freezed the cover man, tying the score for the second time in the game. Next up, the Mexicas answered with a deep bomb of their own when Quintana (No. 5) found Villalobos (No. 84) for a spectacular 83-yard Touchdown catch reaching for the pylon in the left corner of the end-zone.
With the clock ticking down, the Mayas faced a stone-wall in the Mexicas defense who did not yielded an inch and prevented a big play from the Blue Empire. The Red Warriors offense did not slowed down and put the last nail on the coffin via a deep shot with… guess who… Villalobos who settled the scenario for a Field Goal, leaving the scoreboard 27-17. The last big play came by the defense when Isaac Gil (No. 91) sacked Marco Garcia (No. 12) sending the Mexicas on their way for the quest of the title in the Tazón México III at the “Estadio Azul”.