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SHARKS FEND OFF PANTHER COMEBACK

It has been nearly two years since the Guam High Panthers and Sanchez Sharks have faced off in football. They finally met Saturday night at the Okkodo field with the Sharks getting the win despite nearly giving up a big halftime lead.

By Robert Balajadia

Saturday featured a game that was two years in the making. The Sanchez Sharks and Guam High Panthers have been two of the top teams in recent years though they haven’t faced off since 2012. Both teams share three championships between since their last meeting so each were out to settle a score.

In the end, it was the two-time defending champion Sharks that got the 30-14 win, but they had to hold off a furious comeback from the Panthers after nearly giving up a 22-0 half-time lead at the Okkodo field.

It wasn’t until Sharks Matthew Sojo ran in a game clinching touchdown, including the 2-point conversion, to go up 30-14 late in the 4th quarter.

“There was a lot of excitement for this game,” said Sojo on the fact the teams have not faced each other in over two years.

Guam High had trouble with their special teams all game long giving the ball back to Sanchez after the defense had come up with big stops.

The Panthers and Sharks fight for a fumble in the 3rd quarter which the Sharks were able to recover. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

The Panthers and Sharks fight for a fumble in the 3rd quarter which the Sharks were able to recover. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

The final special teams turnover came midway through the 4th quarter just a series after Panthers quarterback Kaimana Bamba hit receiver LaRoy Robinson for a 50-yard touchdown with the final 20 yards coming from Robinson’s ability to sprint to the end zone to get within a single possession 22-14 after Robinson again hauled in the 2-point conversion.

Panthers linebacker DeAndre Richardson got free fro two big run stopping tackles on the following series which forced Sanchez to punt the ball back to the Panthers. The ball bounced around near the 30-yard line and Richardson made the wrong decision to try and dive on the ball as it slipped out of his hands allowing Sanchez to recover, taking over in great field position.

Guam High was also hit with a big roughing the passer penalty on 3rd down after they appeared to stop the Sharks ariel attack giving Sojo the chance to come together for big runs while capping it off with the 7-yard score.

“We always had to communicate with each other. Our bond and communication needed to be good.”

The worst kept secret in the league is that the Sharks are going to run the ball, and run they did early and often which helped them get the big lead. Sharks’ Mitchell Igcasenza had big runs on the opening drive, eventually getting the score from 12 yards and the 2-point conversion to go up 8-0.

Sharks Trey Leon sprints to the end zone after corralling a big pass from Eric Reyes. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

Sharks Trey Leon sprints to the end zone after corralling a big pass from Eric Reyes. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

Sojo scored his first touchdown in the second quarter after he and Igcasenza opened the quarter on big runs. Sojo found the end zone after a dive up the middle to go up 14-0.

The Panthers were eager to respond as Bamba hit receiver Lewis Harris for a 13-yard gain, but Harris couldn’t hold on to the ball after taking a hit giving the ball back to the Sharks.

Sanchez’ quarterback Eric Reyes fooled the entire Panthers defense with a play action pass to a wide open Trey Leon, who ran untouched for half the length of the field for the touchdown to go up 22-0.

Guam High came out of halftime strong after running back Avery Fernandez went weak-side for 53 yards, scoring a much needed touchdown for the Panthers.

Sanchez took advantage of costly errors from the Panthers but did commit many on their end with their coaching staff clearly unpleased as they allowed Guam High the opportunity to comeback. Sojo put on his super hero cape and rescued the Sharks on many occasions, but being the leader isn’t something Sojo focuses on.

“Without my team, I wouldn’t be able to do anything. I don’t think about being ‘the guy’, I instead think of my team. Every week we’re going to face every teams best and even though it’s not the championship we have to play like it is.”2014 Football

PHOTO GALLERY:

Sharks Trey Leon and Panthers Lewis Harris fight for possession of a pass. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

Sharks Trey Leon and Panthers Lewis Harris fight for possession of a pass. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

Sharks Kieth Dumanal picks off Panthers quarterback Kaimana Bamba in the 4th quarter. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

Sharks Kieth Dumanal picks off Panthers quarterback Kaimana Bamba in the 4th quarter. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

Sharks Dan Dan Cruz gets in the backfield and sacks Panthers Kaimana Bamba. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

Sharks Dan Dan Cruz gets in the backfield and sacks Panthers Kaimana Bamba. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

Even the Sharks and Panthers Mascots were dueling in the stands. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

Even the Sharks and Panthers Mascots were dueling in the stands. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

Sharks Matt Sojo gets his first rushing touchdown of the game. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

Sharks Matt Sojo gets his first rushing touchdown of the game. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

Sharks quarterback Eric Reyes draws the Panthers offside before the snap. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

Sharks quarterback Eric Reyes draws the Panthers offside before the snap. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

Panthers Kelvin Bazan wraps up the Sharks for a loss. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

Panthers Kelvin Bazan wraps up the Sharks for a loss. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

Sharks Jordan Evangelista wraps up Panthers' Avery Fernandez in the backfield. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

Sharks Jordan Evangelista wraps up Panthers’ Avery Fernandez in the backfield. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

Sharks Mitchell Igcasenza runs to the outside for the games first score. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

Sharks Mitchell Igcasenza runs to the outside for the games first score. (photo by Robert Balajadia)

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