American football scored a touchdown amid a throng of sports looking to make a splash in a suddenly booming Philippine sports scene last Saturday at the Philsports Football Field in Pasig City.
The Philippine Punishers defeated the visiting Saipan Sharks, 13-6, with a crowd of a couple of hundred people cheering on every big-time drive, bone-crushing hit and touchdown. But the biggest cheer was when the Sharks took a knee on their final possession to end the first-ever match of the Punishers in Manila. They previously emerged triumphant over the Hong Kong Cobras in another friendly match at the Clark Special Economic Zone in Pampanga.
Although the Punishers’ quarterback Mike Hoese was intercepted thrice by the aggressive Saipan defense, the Philippines showed they could turn the trick when Jai Merchant picked off Sharks quarterback Josh Lutrelle’s pass to receiver George Lieto at the 30-yard line. Merchant ran wide right and scooted untouched into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown after which Dave Mouatt kicked in the extra point to close out the scoring.
The Punishers looked impressive early on with a 20-yard TD strike by Hoese to GJ Dy to take the early 6-0 lead despite the missed extra point by Mouatt.
Saipan countered with six-play drive that ended with a quarterback sneak for the equalizer. Unfortunately for the Sharks, they too missed the extra point. But for all the scoring, it was the late hit on a Punisher by a Shark after he had missed a pass. The match was stopped for close to 10 minutes as medics tended to the fallen Punisher.
Following a fumble recovery late in the fourth quarter, Saipan attempted one last drive to level the match but a series of incomplete passes doomed the Sharks.
“It’s not the NFL – at least not yet and that’s a dream now, isn’t it – but what we are trying to accomplish here is to make the sport grow,” said Hoese after the match. “We believe there is a lot of room for a lot of sports here in
the Philippines. The Philippine Punishers are composed of expatriates and Filipinos who love the sport of American football and believe that we can be very good at it.”
Sharks’ playing coach John Blanco concurred, “I believe that American football will catch on. We’re certainly happy to be here in the Philippines and help introduce the sport. These are small steps but we’ll get to where we want.”
The Philippine Punishers:
Head coach: Tim Beasley
Assistant coach: Manu Hoque
Defensive coordinator: Dick Thornton
Mike Hoese, quarterback; Mark Marigomen, fullback; Terence Marca, tailback; Ben Paulson, wide receiver; Otto Wong, wide receiver; Steve Smith, wide receiver; Paul Harris, left tackle; Alvin Balasi, left guard; JM Manalangit, center; David Mouatt, right guard; and Jon-T Vergara, right tackle.
Bryan Meneses, nose tackle; David Mouatt defensive end; Paul Harris, defensive end; Evan Baylon, linebacker; Steve Smith, linebacker; Bong Tamayo, linebacker; Will Yeh, linebacker; Mike Reyes, defensive back; Bilz Juaiting defensive back; Jai Merchant, defensive back; and Ben Paulson, defensive back.
Andrew Marcos, wide receiver; Anton de Leon, defensive back; Leand Suguitan, running back; Carl Montano, defensive back; Carlo Reyes, defensive back; Christian San Juan, offensive/defensive lineman; Christopher San Juan, offensive/defensive lineman; Derek Keenan, linebacker; GJ Dy, wide receiver/running back; Kenwa Mabini, linebacker; Khalil Tan, wide receiver; Ken Concepcion, offensive/defensive lineman; Leo Peñas, defensive lineman; Luke Jickain, wide receiver; Mike Castro, tailback, wide receiver; Mel Calletor, wide receiver; Nars Custorio, defensive back; Nico Faller, defensive back/quarterback; Quinton Ellick, defensive lineman; Quinito Eleazar, linebacker; Terrence Marca, running back.
The Saipan Sharks
George Lieto #1
Jeff Warfield #04
Josh Lutrelle #07
Jay Tilipao #09
Daniel Agulto #09
Jerome Norita #16
Tai Doram #22
Calvin Ehsa #28
Jeff Boyer #33
Jermaine Catching #34
Syl Tergeyo #44
Syl Rangamar, Jr. #50
Charles Aiken #52
Paul Camacho #55
Al Lee Terry #62
Slade Adelbai #63
John Blanco #67 (Coach)
Jun Terry Jr. #76
Anthony Agnon #79
Jaime Martinez #93
Joe Ocampo #99