On the morning of Saturday May 5th, the Doylestown Dragons travelled down to Leesburg, Virginia to attempt a run at the MAC Championship. This trip was the culmination of a years worth of work and dedication by a truly talented group of men. While sites have always been set on the title game in Glendale, Colorado, the Mac Championship was the first step and one that plan to revisit year after year.
Having finished the season undefeated with hardly a challenge, the Dragons were looking forward to the higher level of competition that they knew would await them in every remaining round of the National Championship tournament.
The Dragons first matchup was against the Raleigh Vipers. The Vipers were the second seed team in the MAC DII South division. Their only two season losses came against NOVA. The game began with a large Raleigh pack marching down the field, thanks to Doylestown penalties, and dotting one down to start the scoring. Raleigh did not convert and the Dragons found themselves in a relatively unfamiliar place, down 5 early.
It only took 3 minutes for Kyle Markovitch to answer back. 5-5. 4 minutes later, Eric French made it 10-5. Dylan Hamilton pushed the lead with a tricky conversion made from the corner. 12-5 Dragons. The run of dominance continued for Doylestown with a well worked try by Steve Kornock. He scored via a beautiful offload by Dylan Hamilton followed by a run right through the heart of the defense.
Conversion good. 6 minutes later, penalty kick good from Dylan Hamilton. 22-5 Dragons after 29 minutes. Just before half time Raleigh snuck in another try, this time the conversion was good.
Halftime score 22-12.
The second half was much different. Both defenses settled in and the hits were big and frequent. The only scoring of the second half was a 56th minute penalty taken by Dylan Hamilton.
The Dragons took their MAC semifinal match over the Raleigh Vipers by a final score of 25-12.
On to the MAC final! As the Dragons won their game, NOVA beat Philly Whitmarsh on the adjacent field to book a Sunday date with destiny.
Sunday came and the boys were ready. The whole squad was feeling healthy and ready to take the title. The rain was pouring down in sheets until, seconds before the men went to warm up, the clouds cleared and the weather abated. It seemed all was aligning for a huge game. With NOVA being the home team, the crowd was as large as anyone could have hoped for.
After scoring an early first try through the prowess of Kevin Hockings, the Dragons found themselves down 18-5 with mere minutes to play in the first half. The boys worked a penalty in the NOVA half and Hamilton’s trusty boot converted to bring the game within 10 points. They were lucky the score wasn’t more lopsided as the NOVA kicker missed two penalties, both from well within range. In addition, Eric French saw yellow and the men rallied to stay in the game down one man for 10 minutes.
18-8 at the half. This was the first time the Dragons had trailed at half in over 18 months. Challenge put forth. Oh how the Dragons answered the call. The next 40 minutes truly defined and demonstrated what all the hard work of the last year has accomplished. A team that would have, at one time, turned on itself, instead came together and played with the heart of Doylestown.
Within 6 minutes the Dragons had dotted down two converted trys. One by Dave Kornock, one by Kevin Hockings. Both came through dynamic team play and steady platform from the pack.
Unfortunately the next 15 minutes belonged to NOVA. Through solid play of their own and some gaffes by the Drano’s defense, NOVA dotted down twice. Luckily their kicker was not up for the game and missed both conversions. Nevertheless the Dragons were down again, 28-22. 18 minutes left to play.
The rest of the game belonged to the Dragons. Their experience and togetherness truly won out. While NOVA committed late penalties the Dragons remained calm and took yardage and points. Dylan Hamilton brought the game to within three points in the 68th minute. Kevin Hockings dotted down to take the lead in the 72nd. Hamilton converted again. The win was sealed with another penalty confidently taken by Hamilton in the 77th minute.
The final whistle blew and the Dragons stormed the field. The taste of a MAC Championship was sweet. Suffice it to say the taste has left a desire for more with the boys. The Dragons travel to Obetz, Ohio for the rounds of 8 and 4 on May 19. Their next opponent is the Atlanta Renegades who had an upset win over Southern Pines to take the South Title. The winner will play the winner of Morris and Detroit on Sunday.
Up the Dragons! Final 8 in the Nation!