By Harry Pearson
Sunday, July 29, was a historic day for North American football in Ecuador. It was the first game played inter-collegiately in the country – between the University of Cuenca Apaches and the Catholic University Condors.
The Apaches took possession of the opening kickoff on a putch kick by David Tenorio, recovered by Gunner Israel Caldas at their own 48-yard-line. In a series of quick runs and passes, they pressed that advantage to an opening TD, thrown by quarterback Vicente Quezada, caught by tight end Andres Segovia. The extra point failed.
The Apaches then had a chance to show the line blocking by center Eddison Patino, Guards Martin Cale and Moises Carvajal and Tackles Leonardo Orellana and Pablo Dutan, recovering a fumble by the Condors on the Condor 35 and wasting little time in scoring again on a run up the middle by fullback Andres Chicaiza. This time, the kick for the PAT was good, resulting in a 13-0 lead.
Both teams then fought through the second quarter with neither team being able to gain an advantage over the other.
The Apaches took the second half kick-off and stalled after a couple of first downs, punting to the Condors. The Condors responded by throwing a quick interception to Linebacker Andres Chicaiza, who ran it back to the thirty yard line.
The Apaches then showed their running game again, with quick gains up the middle by RB John Tixi and Sandro Cuzco, moving the ball down to the 3 yard line. A false start penalty moved the ball back to the 8 yard line, where Quezada threw his second TD pass to TE Segovia, who suffered an ankle injury on the play. Again, the point after attempt failed as the Condors stuffed the kick.
The Condors’ vaunted running attack finally woke up with great runs by RB Gabriel (Speedy) Gonzalez and Marko Jimenez leading the way. A few short passes by QB Robin Ramon kept the Apaches honest on defense during the next drive, with the Condors ending up on the Apaches’ 3-yard-line. A false start resulted in the Condors first score of the day, making the third quarter score 19 – 6 in favor of the home Apaches.
After taking the kickoff and moving the ball swiftly up the field to the Condor 3-yard-line, the Apaches stalled and turned the ball over on downs. The Condors put together their best drive of the day, moving the ball out from the shadow of their own goal to the Apache 35-yard-line, where they finally were stopped by another interception, this time by Safety Fabricio Cordova.
Just two plays later the biggest weakness of the day was shown.
On a second down and short, RB John Tixi took the ball and fought for a first down, finally fumbling the ball on the Condor 45 yard line. A whistle blew, ostensibly ending the play, even though a Condor player picked up the ball and ran it 55 yards for no benefit. The referee stepped in and indicated touchdown, at which point the entire Apache sidelines erupted. After an extended conversation, the referee refused to change the call and a touchdown was awarded to the Condors.
It should be noted here that the sounding of a whistle, whether inadvertent or otherwise, stops the play immediately. Since the ball had not yet been picked up the the Apaches, the proper call should have been first down Apaches, but since the rule was not known to the referee of the game, the wrong call was made. After a successful PAT kick, the score became 19-13, with five minutes left in the game.
Each team had another opportunity to score, but both were thwarted by outstanding defensive plays by the other team. The Condors would not allow the Apache runners outside, and were able to stop the runs up the middle forcing another punt by kicker Tenorio, and the Apache defenders were able to harass the Condors QBs, not allowing enough time for them to complete a pass, while stopping all but the widest runs by the Condors running backs Gonzalez and Jimenez.
Time finally ran out with the Condors attempting to continue a drive the started on their twenty yard line and moved out to their own forty-five yard line.
Harry Pearson, head coach of the UC Apaches, “The biggest weakness we have is that we critically need people to attend an officiating clinic and become certified referees in North American football. This would allow consistent, non-partial officiating of future games, with the correct rules known and followed by all parties concerned.”
If you would like to help with this critical need, follow the daily electronic issues of CuencaHighLife and Gringo Post for postings as to the time and place for the first clinic to be held here in Cuenca. This will be a free clinic, but will cover a few days, many hours and a lot of in-depth learning of the rules of North American football at the NCAA level. Right now, officiating is purely voluntary, however, we are working on making it a paid position, so there’s an extra “bene” for coming out.