Makati, PH – Football weather? Check. Back to back defending champs? Check. Datu as the Challengers? Check. Indeed, it was a perfect day for the Championship of this year’s edition of the PAFL.
If you’ve ever heard of David and Goliath, this match-up pitted Goliath vs Goliath. After splitting both elimination round games, the underdog tag did not apply to neither team as both played like giants, and both had the capability to take down giants.
In the game that mattered most though, the men in maroon were able to edge out the defending champs 34-29, with the outcome never being close to decided until the final seconds of the game.
With the Datu receiving to start off the game, kicker Mark Hill put on a perfect onside kick for a Wolves recovery. This set up their first score of the day, to put the Wolves up 7-0.
In the ensuing drive, the Datu Tribe showed that they were here to play. After a dropped pass in the endzone, Lawrence Oliver III introduced himself on the biggest stage plowing his way in through a sweeping 40 yard run to take it to the endzone. He quickly followed that up with a 2pt conversion reception to grab the lead 8-7.
The Datu defense held the Wolves to a 3-and-out in the next drive, setting the offense to take the ball up at the Datu 45-yard line.
With the short field in play, Maximo Carlos secured a touchdown from a broken play, thanks to a deep ball courtesy of Pereme Alina, his first of 3. The Datu failed to convert, leaving the score at 14-7.
As the heart of a champion is not to be underestimated, the Wolves answered right back with a single play drive, tying the game up 14-14 with a little over a minute left in the first half.
Action wasn’t over for the first half of play as RJ Laurel towed the Tribe to an 8 point lead, scoring both the touchdown and 2 pt. conversion before halftime. Pereme Alina’s passing prowess again in display for both plays, marking a 22-14 cushion entering intermission.
The Wolves opened the 3rd quarter and managed to tie the game up on a touchdown before a 2pt conversion by Martin Antonio setting up the last tie of the season at 22-all.
In what seemed to be a long 3rd quarter, the Datu dialled the number 3 and was able to claw back with Lawrence Oliver’s 2nd touchdown catch of the day for a 28-22 count as the Tribe failed to convert for 2pts after.
Ever resilient as they are, the Wolves managed the clock well, and in what seemed like would be the last score of the game, the Wolves grabbed the lead on kicker Mark Hill’s extra point, 29-28, leaving a minute and change.
Deja vu was looming as the game took a turn that eerily felt familiar. In the first round matchup between these two teams, the Wolves were able to pull away in the last minute of the game after forcing safeties, and grabbing the lead 10-8.
With a minute and twelve seconds remaining on the clock, the Datu upped the clutch gene and produced a drive worthy of a movie. Edlen Hernandez rammed his way to the Wolves 45 yard mark, setting up good field position for what would be 30 game seconds of epic proportion. Kristoffer “T’Challa” Carlos, scoreless the whole game, moved the sticks into Datu territory gaining a first down in the process. The Wolves then decided to bring up pressure showing a blitz to Datu QB Pereme Alina, only for it to be checked by the Datu offensive line. This forced a quarterback scramble, as we’ve seen Pereme Alina do with grace, to find Lawrence Oliver III at the 15yd line. As if the game had a shortage of climactic turns, Lawrence Oliver’s dive to the endzone was ruled short & out, as the pylon that was supposed to be standing had been winded. The Datu is now in perfect position, first and goal at the 1yd line.
With the best the Wolves had to offer on defense on the field, the Datu turned to the best it had to offer on offense. It was at this time, that the Datu called on an Avenger and brought it home for the Tribe in maroon. Hunting the endzone as he has done in multiple games, Kristoffer Carlos bobbed, weaved, and dove his way to the endzone, completing a season to remember. In a wide run to the right, Carlos called game as he secured a 34-29 lead for the Datu Tribe.
The Wolves then seemed all but defeated as they entered the last drive of the game. With 42 seconds left, the Wolves seemed to falter, with only Miguel Dela Pena gaining positive yards. The game, as if to say “NOT TODAY”, ended in an Edlen Hernandez interception off of a desperation heave from Wolves QB Luke Zetazate.
In a game that figured 2 Datu players disclocating their shoulders, 3 already out owing to injuries, a season suspension, and hits that seemed to be uncalled for, The Datu Tribe still emerged victorious and dethroned the former consecutive season champs.
This is a big leap for the Datu program, nailing its first National Championship in 4 seasons with the PAFL. The Tribe is tied with the Rough Riders with one title, whilst the Wolves still lead everyone with two. Ironically, some members of the Rough Riders had made their way to Datu this season, and as a result, ended up winning the whole thing again.
Be as it may, the Datu Tribe proved that it is a staple in Tackle Football here in the Philippines, winning both the Metro Manila Clubs Summer League, and the Philippine American Football League in 2019. This, through extensive recruitment and training, had been achieved under Datu Captain Aaron Velasquez, and team manager Princess David.
The Datu Tribe would like to thank everyone who has supported the club since the inception of the Datu Tackle Football brand. To the guys who donned the maroon and gold on the gridiron, this one’s for all of us.
Think you got what it takes to be a National Champ? Stay tuned and follow Datu Tackle Football on Facebook and @datu.afc on Instagram for updates on recruitment, and team activities. ‘Til next season, CHAMPS OUT!