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WARRIORS HEADED BACK TO MFL FINALS

The Pepsi Warriors advance to the MFL championship game with the win over the gritty Cars Plus Rams who kept the score close down the stretch in their semifinals match up.

By Mike Nauta Jr.

After taking a week off from the gridiron, teams in the 2014 Miller Football League made their way back to the Hal Shiroma Football Field in Dededo to get post-season action underway.  Friday night, the Cars Plus Rams took on the defending champion Pepsi Warriors.  For the past two seasons, both teams met up with one another in the championship game.  However, it was a different story last night as the two battled for the right to advance to the title match.  At the end of the night, it was the Warriors who claimed victory after defeating their opponents 26-7.

Early in the game, both teams came out putting on a show reminding fans what each was made off.  The defending-champions had the first series on offense and immediately came out with a huge statement as Hosea Ware racked up big yardage on the ground quickly.  However, the Rams held ground defensively and put a halt to the early threat by Pepsi.  A big hit by Brandon Burgos caused the Warriors to turnover the ball on a fumble.

Pepsi Warriors’ Hosea Ware sprints towards the end zone. (photo by Asha Robles)

Pepsi Warriors’ Hosea Ware sprints towards the end zone. (photo by Asha Robles)

Cars Plus looked to jump out and put the first points of the game on the board on their first offensive drive.  That was not to be the case as Pepsi denied the opportunity forcing the Rams to punt the ball.  With less than three minutes left in the opening quarter, the Warriors relied on the legs of Ware and quarterback Danny Manibusan to get into the red zone.  It wasn’t too long before Ware eventually pounded his way through the Rams line for a one-yard touchdown run giving Pepsi a 6-0 lead.

In the second quarter, the Pepsi defense continued to put on a show as they gave Cars Plus different looks that eventually forced then to punt for the second-straight time.  Taking full advantage of the change of possession, Pepsi moved the chains downfield and eventually capped it off with a four-yard TD run by Dontana Keraskes.  For the remainder of the half, neither team was able to put any more points on the board keeping the Warriors ahead 12-0 going into the break.

Second-half action started with the Rams taking possession.  Starting quarterback Kevin Alvarez got things going after connecting with teammate Frank Fernandez for a 35-yard completion setting up a firs and goal from the five.  On the ensuing play, Cars Plus managed to get into the end zone, but the TD was negated due to a holding penalty.

A usually high-powered Pepsi offense ran into some difficulty at their chance on offense as they were held to nothing passed the 20-yard line that eventually led to a forced punt.  The third period came to a close with the Rams moving the chains closer to the end zone.

Quarterback Danny Manibusan of the Pepsi Warriors attempts to run the ball. (photo by Asha Robles)

Quarterback Danny Manibusan of the Pepsi Warriors attempts to run the ball. (photo by Asha Robles)

With a mixture of run and pass plays, Cars Plus was able set up a first and ten at the Pepsi 17-yard line.  A play from Alvarez to teammate Tom Medler ended the scoring drought after a 17-yard TD pass made it a 12-6 game.  A successful PAT shaved-off another point to the Rams deficit.

As the game began to get exciting and the Rams looking to upset, Pepsi remained poised and immediately went back to work.  Ware was monstrous on the ensuing kick-return cruising 66-yards downfield setting up a first down from the 15-yard line.  On the very next play, Manibusan hooked-up with teammate Alejo Lujan for the touchdown to give Pepsi an 18-7 advantage.  Not able to produce any offense, the Rams were held scoreless for the remainder of the game, while the Warriors increased their lead to 26-7 before the final whistle was blown to end the game.

With the victory, the Warriors punched their way to the championship game and have earned the right to defend their title while looking to make it two-straight.  Pepsi will await the winner of the IP&E Angels and DLX Knights game that takes place April 26th at 7pm.  Championship game is scheduled for May 2nd.

PHOTO GALLERY:

Jacob Torres of the Pepsi Warriors dives for the ball. (photo by Asha Robles)

Jacob Torres of the Pepsi Warriors dives for the ball. (photo by Asha Robles)

Quarterback Danny Manibusan of the Pepsi Warriors finds a teammate to pass to. (photo by Asha Robles)

Quarterback Danny Manibusan of the Pepsi Warriors finds a teammate to pass to. (photo by Asha Robles)

Austin Pangelinan of the Cars Plus Rams looks for open space to run after receiving the ball. (photo by Asha Robles)

Austin Pangelinan of the Cars Plus Rams looks for open space to run after receiving the ball. (photo by Asha Robles)

Hosea Ware of the Pepsi Warriors gets stopped just before the end zone by a Cars Plus Rams’ defender. (photo by Asha Robles)

Hosea Ware of the Pepsi Warriors gets stopped just before the end zone by a Cars Plus Rams’ defender. (photo by Asha Robles)

Ryan Rios of the Pepsi Warriors tries to pick up a fumbled ball. (photo by Asha Robles)

Ryan Rios of the Pepsi Warriors tries to pick up a fumbled ball. (photo by Asha Robles)

Cars Plus Rams’ Frank Fernandez gets knocked down by a Pepsi Warrior. (photo by Asha Robles)

Cars Plus Rams’ Frank Fernandez gets knocked down by a Pepsi Warrior. (photo by Asha Robles)

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