Beijing Wins CAFL China Bowl on Final Play
Sunday November 6, 2016
Shanghai, China (November 6, 2016) - Patrick Clarke III kicked a game winning 17 yard field goal with no time on the clock to give the Beijing Lions a 35-34 win over the Qingdao Clipper to capture the first ever China Bowl and the China Arena Football League championship. Just two seconds before however he had missed an 18 yarder and the Clipper thought they had pulled off an upset of the league’s only undefeated team. Clarke’s kick was wide right, but Qingdao was called for an illegal corner blitz, rushing the kicker, which gave Clarke a second chance with no time on the clock. The try after the penalty was straight and true ending a game that saw eight lead changes.
The game was a low scoring affair by arena standards which may have favored the Clipper. The Lions also played without the leagues “Man of Steel” award winner in James Romain. The wide out, defensive back and kick returner missed the game due to a hand injury which forced Beijing coach Clint Dolezel to shift players around to make up for Romains’ absence.
The Lions scored on their opening drive that covered 45 yards in nine plays. Quarterback Luke Collis connected with Collin Taylor on a nine yard touchdown for a 6-0 lead. The Beijing Defense, which stopped opponents at a rate of 48 percent this season, flexed early as Torez Jones intercepted a Bryan Randall pass in the end zone and the first quarter ended with just one score.
The Lions opened the second quarter looking at a fourth and ten at the 14 yard line, but pressure from Qingdao defensive linemen Matt Moss and Jake Metz forced Collis to throw four straight incompletions giving Randall and the offense a short field. Four plays later Xavier Boyce had a 12 yard catch and his first TD reception of the game. The Clipper led 7-6. The scoring continued on the next possession as Collis found Taylor for his second score of the game with a 25 yard strike and a 13-7 advantage. Taylor also shared time at defensive back with Chris Dieker with the injury to Romain. The Lions then attempted an onside kick that was not successful. The Clipper recovered on the nine. Randall used a short eight yard toss to Reggie Gray to regain the lead, 14-13. The fourth lead change of the half took place on the final Beijing possession as Collis targeted Dieker three times in five plays, with the final pass covering 15 yards for a score. Dieker led all receivers in the game with 9 receptions for 107 yards. The second missed extra point left the score at 19 to 14 with Beijing leading at the half.
The Beijing defense then caused its seventeenth turnover of the season with Jones intercepting Randall for the second time in the game. For Jones, the CAFL’s defensive MVP, it was his league leading eighth interception of the season. The Lions then turned that into points as Taylor, who had seven receptions for 80 yards, would catch his third TD pass of the game and twelfth of the season. Beijing has its largest lead at 25 to 14. Qingdao’s Gray then took the kickoff down to the seven yard line to set up a quick score. Randall hit Gray with a seven yard throw and the Clipper trailed by four. Gray finished with seven catches for 94 yards.
The final quarter began with Qingdao’s Rayshaun Kizer getting his second pick of the season as he jumped Taylor’s route in the end zone and he returned the ball to the Beijing 20 yard line. Then on first and goal from the four Randall used a play action fake to freeze the defense and he entered the end zone untouched to give the Clipper a 28-25 lead. The seventh lead change was only seconds away. Jones almost returned the kickoff for a score as he was stopped on the six yard line. Dieker then came on to play quarterback. He kept it himself the next two plays, the second covering two yards which was good for a score and a Lions 32-28 lead. On what would be the final offensive series for the Clipper, Randall worked a two man game with Boyce to retake the lead. The former Virginia Tech standouts teamed up four times on a six play drive that covered 38 yards for a score. Boyce, who had seven receptions for 77 yards, caught a 12 yard pass to put the Clipper up 34 to 32.
Beijing took over after the kick on its own nine yard line. On second and eight from the 23, Collis was pressured by Moss and was called for intentional grounding. Beijing then caught a break as on third and 20 the Clipper was called for an illegal defense and Beijing gained an automatic first down. As time ran down Collis hit Taylor three straight times. The last reception by Taylor was to the four yard line with two second remaining.
Clarke came on for his first field goal attempt of the season and pulled the 21 yard kick right, but an illegal corner blitz gave the Lions a second chance with no time on the clock. Clarke took advantage and drove the ball through the uprights giving Beijing a 35-34 victory, the CAFL title and a perfect 6-0 season.
Randall, 14 of 19 for 171 yards, 4TD, 2 Int
Gray, 7 for 49 yards, 2TD
Boyce, 7 for 77 yards, 2TD
Randall, 4 for 10 yards, 1TD
Collis, 10 of 40 for 203 yards, 4TD 1 Int
Dieker, 0 for 1
Erwin Sennett Wu, 2 for 16 yards
Dieker, 9 for 107 yards, 1TD
Taylor, 7 for 80 yards, 3TD
Collis, 4 for 10 yards
Dieker, 5 for 7 yards, 1TD
Rustin Mayorga, 1 for 3 yards
With the official announcement of approval from the China government, the new professional league will be called CAFL (China Arena Football League), and the Beijing based operating company, formerly known as Ganlan Media International, will carry the same name.
“We think this acronym says it all,” said David Niu, the President of AFL Global, the founding corporation based in Conshohocken, PA, USA. “The league, and all of our efforts, are unique to China. We want to highlight the fact that we are playing American-style football, not to be confused with soccer. And we want to emphasize that this is China’s first ever professional league, played by the best players in the world.”
Many of the rosters will feature Chinese players, who have been learning and training for the arena game specifically for over a year, at 6 select Chinese Universities, under the guidance of AFL Global.
CAFL headquarters are located in Beijing, with leadership comprised of senior media executives and sports professionals with an array of government and commercial experience.