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WARRIORS COMPLETE THE THREE-PEAT

The Pepsi Warriors are now three-time reigning champs, but the 2015 version didn’t come without a fight from arch-nemesis Hal’s Angels 14-7.

By Michael J.A. Nauta Jr.

The Miller Football League came to a close Saturday afternoon, but not before a champion was crowned. After taking a week off, the defending champion Pepsi Warriors and Hal’s Angels made their way to the Eagles Football Field in Mangilao to do battle in the Miller Bowl. While the Warriors looked to repeat as champions, the Angels wanted to extract revenge from last year’s championship loss.

From start to finish, both teams gave nothing but their best as they laid everything out on the gridiron. Filled with fans on the sidelines cheering their respective team on, it would all come down to the final minute before a champion was crowned. When the clock struck zero and the final whistle was blown, it was the Warriors who escaped with the 14-7 victory and earned the right to hoist the championship trophy once again.

Pepsi running back Hosea Ware scored the pivotal first touchdown of the championship game. (photo by Richard Camacho IV)

Pepsi running back Hosea Ware scored the pivotal first touchdown of the championship game. (photo by Richard Camacho IV)

Heading into the fourth and final quarter, the game was equalized at 7-7. The Angels were seeking their first lead of the game as they continued moving the chains downfield. Despite getting into the red zone, the Angels would be forced to attempt a field goal after being stopped by a strong Pepsi defense. An unsuccessful attempt gave the defending champions the ball.

Pepsi quarterback Danny Manibusan took advantage of the turnover and connected with teammate Vince Espinal for a 51-yard reception. Several plays later, the Angels defense returned the favor and forced the Warriors to a field goal attempt that eventually went wide right keeping the score knotted.

Like much of the first three quarters, defense continued to be the at its best for both squads. With a little over two minutes in the game, the Warriors punted for the third time in the quarter giving possession back to the Angels. On the ensuing play, Angels quarterback Steve “S.P.” Phillips fumbled the ball that ended up in the hands of Pepsi’s Edwin Eclavea. It was from that point where the defending champs took control of what needed to happen.

Manibusan hooked up with Alex Azcaraga for a 21-yard catch that put the Warriors on the ten yard line. With the clock continuing to tick away, the Warriors stayed hot offensively. The duo of Manibusan and Azcaraga zeroed in on one another and connected for a seven yard touchdown with 27 seconds left giving Pepsi a 13-7 lead.

On the very next snap a successful PAT by Terry Perkins adds another point to the Pepsi tally. The final score would prove to be the difference as the Angels were denied any opportunities of finding the end zone for a game tying score.

In the opening quarter, both defenses set the tone immediately sending messages both ways that each was in for tough battle. Possession of the ball would exchange three times with neither being able to find the end zone or split the uprights. It was not until the second period when the “goose eggs” on the scoreboard changed.

Facing a fourth down situation, the Warriors sent the punt team onto the field only to pull a little trickery. A fake punt turned into a 24-yard run by K.C. Cruz giving Pepsi a fresh set of downs. Three plays later, Hosea Ware busted through the Angels defense for a three-yard touchdown run making it a 7-0 game.

Coming off the halftime break, the Angels wasted no time proving they deserved to be in the Miller Bowl. Needing only three snaps, the Angels found their way through the Pepsi defense to equalize the game. A 20-yard touchdown reception by Chris Santos pulled his team within one. On the ensuing play, D.J. Cruz split the uprights for the game tying PAT.

With the win, the Warriors capped off another successful and undefeated season. Meanwhile, for the second straight year the Angels would have to settle for second place.

Controversy On Negated Score

This was the closest championship game the Warriors have had since claiming football glory, but the Angels have been heavily protesting a touchdown catch that would have changed the complexion of the game in the 3rd quarter.

Phillips threw a dart to receiver Jared Ada in the corner of the end zone where Ada had appeared to make a spectacular grab before falling out of bounds. Ada had maintained control of the ball and the fans celebrated the score, but the sideline ref called the touchdown back, negating the score.

Check out the call here: Was this a touchdown catch or did the ref get it right?

PHOTO GALLERY:

Angels Joaquin Pangelinan tries to fins space in the Warriors defense. (photo by Richard Camacho IV)

Angels running back Joaquin Pangelinan tries to fins space in the Warriors defense. (photo by Richard Camacho IV)

Warriors Hosea Ware braces for impact. (photo by Richard Camacho IV)

Warriors Hosea Ware braces for impact. (photo by Richard Camacho IV)

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(photo by Richard Camacho IV)

(photo by Richard Camacho IV)

(photo by Richard Camacho IV)

(photo by Richard Camacho IV)

(photo by Richard Camacho IV)

(photo by Richard Camacho IV)

(photo by Richard Camacho IV)

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