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EAGLES COMPLETE UNDEFEATED REGULAR SEASON

Postseason up next for GNYFF season

By Jay Leon Guerrero

The Matua Eagles will enter the 2023 Triple J Guam National Youth Football Federation playoffs as the top seed after defeating the Southern Cowboys 22-15 Saturday afternoon in Talofofo. The defending champion Eagles improve to 7-0 for the season and will host the fourth seed in next week’s playoffs. 

It was a do-or-die game for the Cowboys, and they looked determined to keep their playoff hopes alive, taking an 8-6 lead by halftime.

(L-R) The trio of Ty James Leon Guerrero, Evan Acosta, and Shane Untalan’s blend of offense and defense snatches them the top seed in the Matua Division. (photo by Cam Santos)

Kaden Cruz opened up the contest with a 32-yard kickoff return for the Cowboys, which set up a five yard touchdown by Josiah Cruz. Javin Meno converted a two-point try, and the Cowboys went up 8-0.

The Eagles answered with a 73-yard drive consisting of 10 rush attempts that ended with a quarterback sneak from Evan Acosta. The extra point try was no good, and the score was 8-6.

Both defenses made plays in the second quarter as both teams failed to score.

Third quarter
The Eagle running game continued to thrive with Ty Leon Guerrero and Landon Suzuki moving the chains. Acosta ended the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run to give the Eagles a 12-8 advantage.

“After they scored on the opening drive, we were down, but our coaches kept motivating the team,” said Leon Guerrero. “Our O-line really stepped up and helped our running game.”

The Cowboys entered Eagle territory on the ensuing possession, with good field position once again off a kickoff return. Javin Meno bulldozed his way for a 35-yard return, ending his run on the Eagle 39 yard line.

Momentum was shut down by the Eagle secondary after Tyler Augustine recorded an interception to force the turnover.

The Eagles looked to increase their lead behind a 22-yard rush by Shane Untalan to make it first and goal just inside the 10-yard line.

The Cowboys dug deep and recorded two key tackles from Kaden Cruz and Rai Shun Agustine to get possession back off a 4th-and-goal stop.

A bad snap bobbled by the Cowboys enabled the Eagle defense to record a safety to push their lead to 14-8. Zavier-Jon Tanaka recorded the safety sack for the Eagles.

With four minutes left, Leon Guerrero broke two tackles and dashed into the endzone for a 58-yard touchdown, and Eagles were up 22-8 after a two point kick from Acosta.

The Cowboys immediately responded with Nathan Esteves catching a 16-yard reception, which set up a seven yard touchdown from Javin Meno. An extra point run had the Cowboys trailing 22-15.

The clock was ticking on the Cowboys’ season, and they needed a turnover to get the offense back on the field. With the rain falling late in the fourth quarter, a bad snap from the Eagles gave possession back to the Cowboys after Kaden Cruz recovered the fumble at mid-field.

With 1:23 left in the game, the Cowboys desperately needed a touchdown to keep their season alive. Fans from both sides shouted words of encouragement as both teams had to dig deep.

The league’s number one defense would not be denied. After two failed pass attempts, the Cowboys were in a 4th-and-long situation. The Eagles’ Liam Charfauros secured a sack on fourth down to clinch the victory.

Javin Meno led the way for the Cowboys, rushing for 104 total yards and a touchdown. Kaden Cruz had two receptions for a game high 22 yards; Josiah Cruz led the Cowboy defense with five tackles.

The season ended for the Southern squad, but the respect from the Eagles showed as both teams gathered at the 50-yard line after the game in a great display of sportsmanship.

Ty Leon Guerrero had 92 rushing yards for the Eagles; Suzuki chipped 42 rush yards. Mackenzy Sablan rushed for 32 yards and had five tackles on defense. 

The Eagles will now face the fourth seed Packers in the first round in a location to be determined for next weekend.

“We are going to work hard in practice this week to prepare for the playoffs,” said Untalan. Untalan had a game high seven tackles for the Eagles. “Our team needs to start the game better. We tend to start off slow. That’s something we need to do to better next week,” Untalan added.

Other games
Manha Division – Eagles 26, Cowboys 0; Packers 19, Broncos 0

Metgot Division – Cowboys 6, Eagles 0; Packers 33, Broncos 12

Matua Division – Eagles 22, Cowboys 15; Packers 28, Broncos 0

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COMING SOON …

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