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THE University of Guam football field was full of gridiron action this past weekend as the Miller Football League opened their season with two games.
Yesterday afternoon, the Pepsi Warriors and Cars Plus Rams battle-tested one another in an action-packed game. After 60 minutes of hard-hitting and intense play, the Rams scored a touchdown with less than 20 seconds on the clock to pick up the 35-28 season-opener victory.
With the game knotted at 28-28, the Rams had possession of the ball and less than two minutes to work. Starting from deep in their territory, Rams quarterback Will Williams went to work and was able to find a way to get across midfield and into Pepsi grounds.
Moments later, a 16-yard pass completion to Brandon Johnson brought the Rams closer to scoring as the clock continued to wind down. Several plays later, Cars Plus set themselves up for a first and goal from the 6-yard line. Williams ran a flare play that found Jesse “Pumpy” Manglona open for the 6-yard touchdown reception and the 35-28 lead.
“The clock was running out of time and it was a play that our coach designed. When Will found me open on the flare, it was just a relief to find my way through the end zone for the game-winning touchdown,” Manglona said.
In the opening quarter, both teams weren’t able to convert on their opening drives respectively. However, it was the Rams who took advantage of a failed punt attempt by Pepsi and took possession from the 10-yard line. Two plays later, Manglona bulldozed his way through the Warriors' defense for the game’s first score. Cars Plus turned up their play on the defensive side and was able to preserve their small lead at the end of one quarter.
Each time the Warriors looked poise to score, the Rams' defense denied any opportunities. With three minutes off the clock in the second quarter, the Rams took over on downs and worked their way downfield. Facing a third and five situation, Williams was able to scramble and find the end zone for a 13-0 Rams lead. The Warriors were not ready to go down easily. On the ensuing drive, quarterback Eric Fejeran was able to connect with teammate Sandy Fejeran for a touchdown and ended the scoreless drought. A successful PAT made it a 13-7 game.
After scoring their first touchdown of the game, Pepsi lit up defensively and on the ensuing drive forced a Rams fumble for a score. Matt Quinata was able to knock the ball out of Cars Plus’ Manglona’s hands for the turnover. Pepsi’s Justin Andre scooped up the ball and returned it for a 20-yard TD and their first lead of the game. Just before halftime, Pepsi upped their lead to 21-13.
But Cars Plus was able to equalize the game midway through the third quarter after a bad snap by Pepsi allowed D.J. Jackson to recover the ball in the end zone for a touchdown. A two-point conversion by Williams made it a 21-21 game. Just before the end of the period, Pepsi regained the lead on a 25-yard touchdown reception by Alex Azcarraga. For the second time in the game, the scoreboard reflected a tie after the Rams scored when Williams found Johnson for a 16-yard TD reception.
“Pepsi was a great team and challenger today. Facing a 14-0 deficit early in the game, they didn’t give up and they continued to fight hard until the end of the game. It was a fight till the finish,” Manglona said.
MFL action resumes next weekend with one game on Saturday and Sunday. Kickoff begins at 2:30 p.m. at the University of Guam football field.