In a clash of undefeated minor league titans, the Central Penn Piranha (Harrisburg, PA) and Eastside Hawks (Kirkland, WA) traveled to Disney World's Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida to battle for the North American Football League's national championship.
Big plays by the Hawk defense and special teams combined with Piranha mistakes set up 4 of the Hawks 7 offensive touchdowns. Two of three Piranha roughing the punter penalties led to Hawk touchdowns, and the Hawks picked off a pass and blocked a punt to set up 2 more touchdowns, and scored on a 2nd interception on the games final play. Four Hawk scoring drives consisted of just one play, each over 25 yards. The Piranha offense was forced to work harder for their scores. Their quickest drive was 4 plays, 61 yards - but 35 of those yards came on a pass interference penalty.
Two first quarter-roughing the punter penalties on the Piranha extended Hawk drives and helped them win the early field position battle. The 2nd foul resulted in a Hawk first down at their own 42 and they capitalized with an 8 play, 58 yard drive that culminated with EJ Ash sweeping right from 2 yards out and scoring untouched on the 2nd play of the 2nd quarter. The key play of the drive came on the last play of the 1st quarter, a 35 yard strike from QB Chris Dixon to WR Mikal Akbar on 4th and 6 from the Piranha 36. Hawks 7 - Piranha 0
Hawk DB Joel Robnett intercepted a Mark Jarmon pass on the Piranha' next possession and returned it out close to midfield. The Hawks needed just one play to capitalize with Dixon finding WR Brian Carter wide open on a deep crossing route. Carter outran one defender and then leapt through 2 others at the goal line for the score. Hawks 13 - Piranha 0
After the teams traded 3 and outs, Hawk DB Josh Kidd blocked a Piranha punt. Jeremiah snatched up the ball and headed for pay dirt before being caught from behind at the Piranha 15 by Tony Tereska. A holding penalty moved the Hawks back 10 yards, and then Dixon found WR Antonio Chandler running a corner route deep behind the Piranha defense. The Hawks went for two and Dixon evaded heavy pressure but his pass was knocked away in the end zone by CB Roman Morris. Hawks 19 - Piranha 0
After netting just 30 yards on 18 plays during the games first 27 minutes, the explosive Piranha offense finally put together an 11 play, 60 yard scoring drive that was punctuated with Jarmon connecting WR Roger Talley from 14 yards out with just :25 remaining before halftime. Hawks 19 - Piranha 7
The halftime break did not slow the Hawks. They opened the 3rd quarter with a 5 play, 75 yard drive. Dixon went over the top to Antonio Chandler running down the right sideline behind the Piranha defense. Chandler caught the ball at the 15 and went in untouched to complete the 52 yard scoring strike. Hawks 26 - Piranha 7
The Hawk defense remained dominant over the break as well. On the Piranha first play from scrimmage RB Emneko Sweeney swept right. The Hawks defense strung out the play forcing Sweeney to cut back and head up field. He was nailed by LBs Jeremiah Pharms and Mark Riley. The ball popped loose and was recovered by MLB Aaron Wardrip for the Hawks at the Piranha 28.
The Piranha defense stepped up and stuffed the Hawks. DE Lamont Hunter sacked Dixon for an 8 yard loss on 2nd & 10, and then CB Harold Williams knocked away Dixon's pass to Mikal Akbar on 3rd. Punter Jose Moreno came on to punt from the Piranha 41 yard line and was roughed for the 3rd time. The Hawks again capitalized on the Piranha special teams miscue. This time it was EJ sweeping around right end, cutting back at the 15 to avoid the safety and then high stepping the final 10 yards for the score. Hawks 33 - Piranha 7
The Piranha answered with a 6 play, 66 yard drive. Mark Jarmon was 3/3 for 53 yards on the drive, and also added 2 runs for 10 yards, including the final yard on a QB sneak. Hawks 33 - Piranha 14
The Hawk offense started deep in their own end after a muffed kickoff and short return. Led by safety Mark McCutcheon, the Piranha defense pushed the Hawks backwards and forced them to punt from their own 5. Hassan Brockman fielded Moreno's punt at the Hawk 40 and headed for the left sideline. Only a diving tackle by FB Paul Snow prevented him from scoring. The Piranha needed 6 plays to cover the 30 yards, with Jarmon connecting with Rasheed Jarmon in the back corner of the end zone from 13 yards out. Hawks 33 - Piranha 21
The Hawk offense needed just 3 plays to move from their own 16 to the Piranha 11. EJ went off left tackle for 47 yards, and the Dixon connected with Chandler for 20 more. On the first play of the 4th quarter, a 3rd and 11 from the 18, Dixon tried to hit a receiver in the back corner of the end zone but the pass was intercepted by Andre Davis for a touchback.
Starting from their own 20, the Piranha offense drove as far as the Hawk 43 before having to punt. Penalties pushed the Hawk offense from their 22 back to their 6 before they had to punt. Moreno boomed a 48 yard punt, and then was clipped on the return pushing the Piranha back 15 more yards to their 39. Two plays later a 35 yard pass interference penalty moved the Piranha to the Hawk 26. Mark Jarmon connected with Rasheed Jarmon for 15 yards, and the Mark scrambled for the final 11 to pull the Piranha to within 5. Hawks 33 - Piranha 28
The Hawks thwarted the Piranha momentum with a 6 play, 73 yard drive. Dixon hit WR Mike Rigell for 49 yards, and then two plays later, connected with TE Syii Tucker from 19 yards out to push the Hawks lead back to 12 with 4:11 remaining. Hawks 40 - Piranha 28
Craig Hawley's kickoff sailed over the Piranha returner and bounced through the end zone. Jarmon ran for 14 yards on first down, and then 3 straight incompletion brought up 4th and 10. The Piranha converted with a 21 yard strike from Mark
Jarmon to Rasheed Jarmon. LB
Misionare Toilolo ran down Jarmon for a 13 yard sack, and then a short pass and an incomplete pass brought up 4th and 16. Jarmon made valiant effort but was stopped short by DB Joel Robnett.
Knowing the Piranha expected them to run the ball and keep the clock moving, Dixon froze the CB with a play-action fake to EJ Ash and then dropped back and heaved a pass down the left sideline to Brian Carter. Carter avoided the tackle attempt of the corner and went in for the score with under 2:00 remaining. Hawks 47 - Piranha 28
The Piranha drove 63 yards down to the Hawk 18, but safety Milton Myers intercepted Jarmon's pass at the 1 and returned it 99 yards as time as time expired. Hawks 53 - Piranha 28