The Citadel Phoenix expected a battle from the C.P. Allen Cheetahs in the NSSAF Division 1 championship football game and they certainly got it.

The Cheetahs gave the Phoenix everything they could handle for 47 minutes, but in the end the Halifax school lived up to its billing as the top seed and captured its fourth straight title with a 15-9 victory. The Phoenix have now won nine of the last 10 championships.

The game played Sunday in blustery conditions at Huskies Stadium would end on a Citadel blitz and a hit by Kees Nagle that forced standout Cheetah quarterback Dan Hashem to lose control of the ball inside the final minute.

“It was a big-time play,” said Citadel co-head coach Jon Dyer. “They were driving and they had a chance to win and fortunately they were against the wind. We needed a couple of stops and our defence came up huge.”

The conditions made long offensive drives difficult, evidenced by the final score.

The Cheetahs led 9-8 entering the final quarter, but the Phoenix running game finally came to life.

“I think that has kind of been our recipe for success all year,” said Dyer.

“We knew if we had the wind in the fourth, and if we were within a couple of points of them, we knew we would be in good position. We really started running the ball well behind our O-line. We didn’t get away from what got us to that game.”

Running back Mohammed Ozbek gave the Phoenix a big lift early the fourth quarter as they drove the ball deep into Cheetah territory. Fellow back Ethan Steenbeek took over, grinding out runs to the five-yard line.

That’s when a stroke of good fortune found the Phoenix. A handoff to Steenbeek wasn’t clean and the Phoenix back fumbled the ball but it bounced right into the hands of teammate Aiden Mercer who took it in for a touchdown and the lead.

“To be good, you have to be lucky sometimes and I think those breaks could have gone either way,” said Dyer.

After a stalled drive by the Cheetahs, the Phoenix continued to grind it out on the ground and run down the clock. But the drive was ended by a fumble on the Cheetah 10-yard line, giving C.P. Allen one more chance with 1:05 left in the game.

Hashem was able to make one completion before the Phoenix defenders were able to break free and force the game-ending fumble.

Ben Hadley provided the rest of the offence for the Phoenix with two field goals, two singles and a convert. Ronan O’Brien had three field goals for the Cheetahs.

Dyer had plenty of praise for the Cheetahs following the hard-fought game.

“We have a lot of respect for C.P. Allen. They played hard and have a great coaching staff. They very well could have been champions.”

Cheetahs head coach Mike McPherson was proud of his team’s effort, despite the disappointing loss.

“Like I said afterwards in the post-game huddle, it was really a bounce here, a call there,” said McPherson. “A couple of things go our direction, the outcome could have been different. But hats off to Citadel for a hard-fought battle. We were that close and as I told the guys, there’s nothing to hold their heads down about, I want them to be proud of their effort.”

In the NSSAF Tier 2 final Saturday at Burnside, the Cobequid Cougars scored 21 unanswered points in the second half to defeat the Halifax West Warriors 28-20.

Running back Andrew Floyd had 20 carries for 169 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Floyd also had two catches for 22 yards, including one for a major.

Linebackers Dylan Benoit and Jordan Waller combined for 10 tackles. Waller also had a fumble recovery for a touchdown.

Defensive back Mike Adams had a pair of interceptions for CEC, which trailed 20-7 at halftime.