The Chandler Cougars overcame a controversial semifinal loss Thursday, taking out their frustration on the Southside (Houston) Cowboys 32-14 to claim third place in the AYF Pee Wee National Championships in Orlando.
(More game photos, click here).
Chandler scored early and often and rode a tough defense to a decisive win. It was obvious from the opening kickoff that the Cougars were out to prove they belonged in the championship, rather than the third-place, game.
Kyler Burke powered in for a 3-yard touchdown on the Cougars' first drive, a dominating six-play series that covered 52 yards. He set up his TD with a 40-yard scamper on the game's third play, then nailed the conversion kick after his touchdown for an 8-0 lead just 3:13 into the ballgame.
Burke scored again with 1:11 remaining in the quarter, capping a quick four-play, 35-yard drive with a 9-yard run. He also drilled the conversion kick, and the Cougars had stormed to a 16-0 lead after 17:34 of play.
The Chandler offense was led by Burke's tackle-busting ball carrying. He gained 134 yards on 13 carries, often banging off Coyboys' defenders for extra yards.
Houston cut the lead to 16-7 on the second play of the second quarter on a 47-yard run. Except for a couple long rushes, the Cowboys' offense was ineffective against an angry and fired-up Cougars' defense.
An interception and 11-yard return by Manuel Harris set up the Cougars at the Houston 46 with 35 seconds remaining in the half. Quarterback Jaelon Parson thed completed three straight passes to three different receivers for the Cougars' third score 25 seconds later, the first to Paul Valentino for 12 yards, the second to Dean Raab for 13 yards and the TD toss to Harris from 19 yards out. Burke, who showed off a strong leg all afternoon, made another conversion kick, and the Cougars went into intermission with a 24-7 lead.
It was more of the same in the third quarter, as the Cougars scored on their first possession after stopping a lengthy Houston drive. Burke ran three straight times, the third for 49 yards to the Cowboys' 24. Case Hatch finished the drive, bouncing outside when an off-tackle play was clogged and carrying the final 26 yards for a score. Burke hammered home the conversion kick again, and Chandler had blown the game open, 32-7.
The Cowboys scored on the fourth quarter's second play on a 54-yard run. Chandler then ran off more than six minutes with a 13-play drive that ended at the Houston 12 and secured third place at Nationals for the gutsy and classy ballclub.