This Saturday in Spain, came into play Badalona Dracs against Black Panthers from Thonon-les-Bains. And the least we can say, is that we did not bored for one second watching these two teams very offensive, by passing game for Spanish and running game for French. Points, big plays and suspense until the last second. These two great teams enjoyed everybody.
The battle begins in the best of ways for Savoyards forcing fumble on the first drive of the game to the good Dracs offense. But the enthusiasm will be short for Black Panthers, forced to punt on their first drive facing a defense died of hunger. After a punt very well executed, the Dracs have to restart in their own 10 yards.
The Spanish Offense in very good shape in the image of their American Quarterback Mike Box, that connects perfectly with his Wide Receivers corps, despite a good pressure of the Black Panthers defensive line that succeed to give back the ball to its offense. Panthers again muzzled by the defense who sacks QB#7 Sam Poulos, very close to a safety. The Coach Albano crew hit a too short punt under pressure in their End Zone, to give back the ball possession in the Savoyards 25 yards.
Good play calling and a big work from the Badalona offensive line facing a good defense who commits its first mistake, with a pass interference on the 4th down of Dracs. The very effective Spanish benefit and score the first Touchdown of the game, thanks to a good connection between the American QB and WR#14 Cernuda Raul. 2 points conversion failed, 06-00 for Catalan.
The Black Panthers squad restarts in offense, still under pressure facing to the very good Catalan defense who lets anything, passing a new sack for a new fumble this time in favor of Dracs. Immediate punishment by a very beautiful 30 yards pass from the US Quarterback for his compatriot WR#15 Robbie Jackson. The Black Panthers line canceled a second time the 2 points try, 12-00 for the Dracs.
Ouch. On the following kick return, French lost again the football and QB Mike Box returns on the field sooner than he thought. Big hit from Linebacker #53 P.J. Gremaud, who takes revenge of this frustrating beginning of the game by the best way, a big hit like we love. In order to say at these Spanish with a universal language, that Black Panthers are not so docile. The poor RB#7 Sergi Gonzalo must leave. But this nice hit doesn’t stop the Spanish sanction and it’s a 3rd Touchdown from QB Mike Box to WR#17 Cesar Brugnani, on an other very nice pass and a catch as beautiful. Extra Point blocked, 18-00.
French says « Puta Madre » !!! New fumble on the kick return well executed by Black Panthers. Men of Thonon-les-Bains are completely taken at the throat by this surprising Spanish team. The first quarter ending on a new turnover. Cruel of realism, Dracs leaded by their QB in shape score a 3d TD by passing game to WR#15 Robbie Jackson, his 2nd of the game. The 2 points conversion is missed another time, 24-00 for the locos local.
Black Panthers have to get out the head of the water. The offense begins to start and assaults of RB#25 Andréa Betza finally bite yards. Even, the luck changes, or rather the bad luck. On a umpteenth fumble, Andréas Betza gets the football and goes in the other direction for a great run who finishes no far from the promised land. QB#7 Sam Poulos, like a Johnny Manziel from Texas A&M old days, has just to concretize this beautiful play scoring their first TD of the game by his own number. Extra Point between the posts, 24-07.
This good reaction cheered up the Defense more than it already was. Heavy pressure on the Quarterback and Spanish break their teeth on each Black Panthers tackles. Dracs begin to no longer as motivated at the beginning for catching the ball and the hit who comes with. First Dracs punt, Black Panthers give the smile again and the hope to fans.
The Black Panthers running game goes again on the same tempo with the very good triple weapon #7 #22 #25 and Sam Poulos finally finds the connexion code with his receivers. 50 yards and less than 2 minutes before the halftime, the case is simple, they have to score to go in the locker room with the doubt placed in Spanish heads. But it was too beautiful, again a misunderstanding and again a loss of the ball in favor of Dracs who don’t miss this too nice occasion of taking the commandment of this game.
After this new disappointment, we say that Black Panthers are screwed. But we don’t know them well ! Lateral pass who goes like swiss clockwork by Dracs QB to RB#22 JC Barta, immediately tackled by two Black Panthers whose DL#53 Philipp James Gremaud, who snatches with his claws the ball in hands of the Running Back, to go along the sideline to the 30 yards Dracs. Vamos Black Panthers ! But unfortunately the turnover won’t be materialized and both teams go to the locker room with the 24-07 score.
End of Halftime, it’s a new game begins. The game restarts with Black Panthers on offense. French showed good things in the end of the second quarter, they must continue to come back and erase the disastrous beginning of the game.
Black Panthers won’t disappoint us. From the beginning of the 3rd quarter, #7 delivers a wonderful pass to his Tight End #85 Benjamin Badoux, for a 50 yards and more gain and a new try to reduce very quickly the lead of the Dracs inside their 5 yards. Thonon-les-Bains guys don’t waste this thunderous beginning and reduce the lead with a 2nd TD to go to 24-14. This is exactly how Savoyard had to restart the game. Stunned, Dracs are no more as serene.
And French won’t stop on their way so good. While QB#6 Mike Box misses his 5th TD from a little phalanx, the secondary stays very disciplined and quickly gives back the football to the offense on the 4th down forced and missed. We see now under the helmet a little drop of sweat for Dracs.
Warning, Big Play ! Great effort from RB#25 Beast Betza who approaches one more time of the Touchdown zone after pulled the whole Dracs defense on long yards. It’s quite enough for the very good RB#22 Vincent Begou who rushes smack in the middle to finish the work and reduce to a 2 points lead after the 2 points conversion succeeded. Black Panthers are coming back in a game we thought screwed.
But in a wake up of pride, Dracs will calm down the French enthusiasm. After a long pass who landed in the Red Zone for his other compatriot WR#11 Drew Clausen, the tremendous Dracs QB delivers another perfect TD pass for the second time to WR#17 Cesar Brugnani. CB#21 Rodrigue Aligenes blames himself for his cover not enough tied. Mike Box delivers TDs to his receivers for his 5th TD of the game. 2 points conversion cleared and 10 points lead for these very good Dracs who reacts at the best moment.
34-14, nothing is done yet, French already showed us that they know to be quick and efficient too. But it’s to forget a new Black Panthers mistake, reproducing their awkwardness of the beginning of the game. While Black Panthers QB is under pressure from the Defensive Line, instead of taking the sack, Sam Poulos forces a screen pass and gives the pick 6 in hands of the defensive player #51 Felipe Archilla, who goes straight the End Zone in order to step away 39-22 at the end of the 3rd quarter. 17 points to make in one quarter, difficult but not impossible.
The faith in these Black Panthers is not dead, they succeeded to come back one time, they have the heart to do it again. And they will do as soon as the kick return by RB Vincent Begou who crosses the half of the field. French continue to press right where it hurts, trusting there very good running game. On a devastating cut, the arrow Vincent Begou breaks Dracs kidneys and goes straight ahead in the End Zone untouched. This ball game is crazy, 39 to 28 after the missed 2 points try, what could have put The Black Panthers to one TD and a Field Goal from Dracs.
Boosted by this thunderclap, the Black Panthers secondary will disturb the connexion between the QB and his receivers, forced to give back the ball to the French. It smells good the smell of the beginning of the second half and #22 De’Anthony Begou just executes a magnificent second acceleration for his second TD untouched by any Spanish. Extra point missed, 39 to 34.
It’s the most important drive. The game is nearly over, French mustn’t let Dracs scores if they don’t want to have any chance to create the feat. But the Dracs QB again and again connects with his receivers thanks to his patience and a good offensive line.
4th down, the defense have to hold on but unfortunately, the US Quarterback finds another time the #3 Javier Gonzalo for another down and seconds less. QB#6 MVP and Bradystic finds again Drew Clausen to kill the game and score his 6th personal Touchdown, following a drive well leaded. Extra point is good, 46-34 and 4 minutes to play.
Not miserly of comebacks, French have now 4 minutes to score 12 points. Panthers never gives up, fighting to the end. It’s an other good run of the young and very talented RB Andréas Betza who reduces the lead 46 to 41, this game is really sick.
The end of the game is exciting. The Black Panthers don’t have the choice, they have to recover an onside kick if they want to win the battle at the last minute of this european meeting… Onside Kick recovered ! Spanish touch but give the ball in hands of a Black Panther.
In this game so offensive, one side by passing game of the very safe Dracs QB, the other side by the running game of the Black Panthers who never quit, Spanish don’t forget that it’s the offense who scores points but it’s the defense who wins games.
Despite a 4th down try saved by a Dracs pass interference, the last French drive ends on a new turnover by CB#4 Oscar Tolosa who intercepts Sam Poulos, killing definitively the French hopes. Dracs just have to take a knee on the ground.
This wonderful game ends unfortunately for Black Panthers on a victory for Dracs 46 to 41, between two very good squads whose give a show for 3 hours. Not a second we will bored. Thank you to this young team of Thonon-les-Bains who proves its heart all night, very dangerous in the running game, with its mobile QB and its two devils Betza and Begou. The other side, a team based on passing game, with a QB nearly perfect finding every time his targets, well helped by a very good offensive line. A lot of points and a lot of pleasure.
If these Black Panthers will do fewer mistakes and limits turnovers, leaded by a tremendous running game, they will be really dangerous.
Crédit photos : Joan Sancho-Fotoart