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RAMSTEIN, Germany — It’s fair to say that the season did not end well for the Patch Panthers. Down 34-0 with just under nine minutes left in a DODDS Europe Division I semifinal game Saturday, coach Brian Hill threw in the towel after sending three of his players to the hospital with injuries.

And just like that, the apparently indomitable Ramstein Royals are off to the championships again.

They’ll face off against Wiesbaden Nov. 2.

“I’m going to take some heat for this. I really am,” Hill told his team after the game. “Because this is going to hit the newspaper. And when it does, someone’s going to come knocking on my door, and they’re going to go ‘What are you doing?’”

But he said he felt like he needed to end it before more of his players got hurt.

“The game was out of reach. And I wasn’t going to send you back out to get clobbered like that. I’m just not going to do it,” Hill told his team.

He called the game just as his Panthers had their best field position of the afternoon. After an interception, Patch had the ball at the Royals' 15 yard line with eight minutes and 56 second left to play.

Hill, clearly frustrated by the officiating, declined an interview after the game, saying only that the on-field issues were going to be addressed by DODDS.

“Our boys play hard, we hit hard,” Ramstein head coach Carlos Amponin said after the game. His Royals, the defending European champions, haven’t lost a game all season. “We teach them to hit hard, and we teach them to hit clean.”

He said the Panthers had “some strong thoughts” about that. He said he never wanted to see a game end in the way it did, but acknowledged that, with emotions high on both sides, the “only thing that can happen from here would have been bad.”

No penalties were called on the plays that took out the three Panthers players, including freshman Nate Mulvay, who paced the Patch offense with 29 yards.

The Royals’ stingy defense held Patch to just 48 yards of total offense.

“It’s really easy to call an offense when you’ve got a defense that looks like that,” Amponin said.

Ramstein’s rushers ground out 225 yards and scored three touchdowns, two of them by hulking senior Tevin Johnson, who dragged two Patch defenders and pushed another over the goal line for his first score.

Senior Robert Navarro scored on a 1-yard run and senior Young Jae Oh took a 42-yard strike in for another.

But the breakout performance of the game came from junior Mason Dean, who scored on his first reception of the season, burning past Patch’s defense for a 76-yard touchdown. He later made a 34-yard diving catch just shy of the goal line.

Dean, playing his first year of varsity ball, was ecstatic about the win.

“I feel bad for all the guys that got hurt,” he said, but getting to the championships “was a dream come true.”

“We just got to come back this week, work hard. It’s going to be a good game.”

millham.matthew@stripes.com

Twitter: @mattmillham

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