Liís Winning Kick Keeps Clipper On Course
Monday October 24, 2016
Guangzhou, China - The first field goal in the history of the China Arena Football League will forever be remembered by Chao Ran Li. His 21 yard boot with two seconds remaining gave the Qingdao Clipper a 51 to 49 victory over the Shanghai Skywalkers. The win keeps Qingdao in line to face the Beijing Lions in the first ever China Bowl. With a record of 3-1 the Clipper can reach the title game as soon as Sunday provided the Guangzhou Power defeats the Shenzhen Naja. Otherwise they can secure that spot themselves with a victory next week over Shenzhen.
When the ball sailed through the uprights it was the only time the Clipper had led the entire night. It was a classic arena football game that the fans in China now are experiencing first hand.
Both teams entered with a 2 and 1 records and played a high stakes game of playoff style football. After a Shanghai interception by Sergio Gilliam on the first possession, Skywalker quarterback Shane Austin went to work finding wide out Shawn Kauleinamuku with a 14 yard strike to open the scoring. Clipper QB Bryan Randall answered with a 15 toss to Xavier Boyce and the shootout was on with the game tied at 7.
In the second set, Mike Washington caught a six yard pass from Austin for a 14-13 Shanghai advantage. Reggie Gray caught his first of the night for six as Randall needed only six plays to go down the field but the point after was no good and Qingdao would have to play catch up the rest of the night. Kauleinamuku and Boyce traded scores and the first half ended with Washington hauling in a pass from 23 yards to give Shanghai a 28 to 20 lead at the intermission.
It appeared that Shanghai was going to pull away as they began the third quarter with Kauleinamuku grabbing his third touchdown of the night from 11 yards as the Skywalkers led 35 to 20. Bryan Randall needed to jump start his team and he did just that. On a second and 10 from the 13 Randall eluded the oncoming rush and took it to the house for his first rushing touchdown. Three players later Qingdao defensive back Rayshaun Kizer intercepted Austin. Three plays after that Randall was running into the end zone again, this time from two yards out and with the extra point Shanghai was holding on to a 35 to 34 lead. The turnaround did not faze the Skywalkers. In just two plays Shanghai was back out front by eight as Austin connected with Shuai Liu for a 42 to 34 lead. Liu, fast becoming one of the top Chinese receivers, had seven catches for 91 yards on the night. Not to be outdone, Reggie Gray caught a 26 pass from Randall for his second score and the quarter ended with Shanghai hanging on to a 42 to 40 lead.
The Skywalkers stretched their lead to nine points when Austin scored on a designed 15 yard quarterback run. The Clipper then went on an extended nine play drive to the end zone to keep it close. On the fifth play of that drive an apparent touchdown was called back due to a hands to the face penalty. Randall did not flinch as four plays later he hit Boyce with his third TD catch of the night. Boyce finished with 11 catches for 120 yards and three scores. A two-point conversion pass to Gray closed the Shanghai lead to a one point 49 to 48 advantage.
The Clipper defense needed to get the ball back and twice Qingdao linebacker Jake Metz pressured Austin and the drive stalled at the Clippers 23. Back to back completions to Gray and consecutive runs by Jason Holman placed the ball at the one yard line. With eight seconds to play a clipper touchdown was wiped out by a hands to the face penalty. Randall then threw to incomplete passes and the clocked showed only two seconds remaining. On fourth and goal from the six, Coach Rod Miller elected to send out Li for a 21 yard field goal attempt to win the game. Li who had missed two extra points approached the ball and knocked it through with authority. The first field goal in league history was good and as time ran out the final score read Qingdao 51, Shanghai 49. With the loss the Skywalkers fall to 2-2 on the season.