Lions’ share

Photo: Peter Milfait

The CEFL Cup has opened on Saturday with the first game of the North group. Vysočina Gladiators have played host to Prague Lions in the game which was also scored in their national league. The home team started strong and had a good kicking game but lost steam in the end. The Praguers took advantage of rival’s mistakes and managed to triumph.

Lions’ first drive sputtered but their defense did better when Ondrej Kubik sacked the opposing signal caller and the home team had to punt as well. In the next possession by the visitors, Gladiators’ defensive end Martin Kulha stripped the ball from the quarterback and jumped on it.

This gave his offense the ball on the opposing side of the field. Quarterback Ryan Pahos ran for first down and then connected with Jindřich Karban who was stopped at the 5 yard line. Vojtěch Mašita snagged another pass by Pahos in the end zone for the only lead by the home team 7-0.

Soon after, Lions’ quarterback Shazzon Mumphrey runs through the middle for first down and then scampers for another 15 yards. Then he finds Josef Janota to move the chains once more and goes to him again on a post route to tie the score to 7-7.

On the ensuing drive the Gladiators go 3 and out and their punt gets blocked by the visitors. This gives them possession on the home team’s 17 yard line. From there it’s easy for Mumphrey to lob it to Lukáš Kadlec near the left back pylon to up the ante to 7-14.

Teams trade punts next and when the Gladiators get the ball again Pahos rockets a long pass to Mašita who grabs it from the air with a defender in his face. The Lions’ defense gels and the Gladiators’ kicker Petr Kodým tacks on 3 more points from 26 yards, 10-14.

Now it’s time for the home team’s defense to show up by sacking the Praguers quarterback. After visitors punt, the Gladiators start from their own 20 yard line with 43 seconds left on the clock in the first half. Pahos scrambles ahead of the chains but then a holding penalty backs his team off 10 yards. Another pass to Mašita for 25 yards leaves enough time for Kodým to field a 27-yarder to lower the score before the half time whistle to 13-14.

Gladiators’ offense has the ball first in the third quarter but can’t do anything with it. On the 4th down their punter muffs it and recovers on his team’s 2 yard line. Adam Žouželka runs it in for another score and 13-21.

The home team answers right back. Pahos launches a pass to Petr Čermák for 33 yards and Stanislav Benc runs for 15 more. David Calta corrals another one of Pahos’ passes in the back of the end zone for a touchdown and after the 2 point conversion fails the score is 19-21.

Following an unsuccessful visitors’ possession the Gladiators start from their own 41 yards but a holding call moves them in the wrong direction. Nevertheless, they get inches away from continuing the drive and on the 4th down Benc finds a hole and runs free. A shoelace tackle by Leoš Horák prevents the home team from taking a late lead. They have first down on the rival’s 4 yards and can almost sniff the goal line. This makes them nervous and they false start before a shotgun snap flies over Pahos’ head. He manages to secure the ball but now they are too far and a 47 yard field goal try falls short.

Encouraged by this, the Lions decide to steal the show. Žouželka runs for 28 yards and Mumphrey connects with Janota for 6 yards first and then 22 more and a touchdown for 19-28.

There’s a full quarter left for the home team to catch up but they waste another drive and punt. The visiting team responds in kind and the Gladiators get back to work from their own 37 yard line. As if they’ve been left with an empty tank, their rushes get stifled in the backfield. After committing an offensive interference penalty they punt the ball back to the Lions’ 45 yard line.

Mumphrey links up with Janota and gets stopped at opposing 38 yards. Žouželka rushes to run out the clock and gets pulled by the facemask during a tackle. This advances his team further to the Gladiators 24 yard line. On the 4th down a defensive holding call extends their drive and pushes them to the 13 yards away from the goal line. Another offside call moves them in and Mumphrey rumbles in through traffic for the final score 19-35.

There enough time only for the Gladiators’ kick returner to get the ball stripped from his grip by the Lions’ Daniel Feuereisel and for the visitors’ Matyáš Maxima to recover it.