The Good Witch Wildcats wouldn't be denied of a Kitten Bowl title on Sunday afternoon.
An upstart squad with a lot of adorable young talent, the Wildcats needed overtime to defeat the Hallmark Channel Hearties in the second installment of the annual game. The referee, via SB Nation's Peter Berkes, summed up the theme of the contest:
Joe Montuna was the hero after winning the cute-off in overtime, but this was a team effort from the Wildcats, who got key performances from Beau Catson, Nom Nom Nom Suh, William "The Litterbox" Purry and, of course, Clawvin Johnson aka Meowcatron:
A vote is currently being conducted on the MVP.
Although the loss stings, the Hearties shouldn't be ashamed of the effort. Led by Ryan Fitzcatrick, they fought the entire way:
Following in the footsteps of the college football world, the kittens did away with the abhorred BCS (Bowl Cat Series) system, instead moving to a four-team playoff format.
The first semifinal matchup pitted the Hearties against the Northpole Panthers. Led by Aaron Pawdgers, Terrell Snuggs and Mario Meowingham, the Panthers put up a valiant effort but simply didn't have the talent to keep up with the Hearties' ferocious furry-up offense.
When the final whistle blew, the Hearties had secured a 58-34 win. Matt Furte, Richard Purrman, Tawny Unitas and Fitzcatrick were all key for the Hearties, while one cat at home was especially ecstatic—or caught in the middle of a yawn—about its favorite team's win:
The second semifinal was a bit closer but still never really in question. The Wildcats jumped out to an early 14-0 lead and kept that advantage for most of the game, kneading their way to a 36-25 victory.
A bit unsurprisingly, tempers flared and things started to get a little chippy:
By that point, the action was so scintillating even WWE stars Dolph Ziggler and Natalya had to chime in:
Both teams coming off huge wins in the semis, the Hearties and Wildcats lived up to the hype in the championship. They went back and forth, exchanging swats, pawing at lasers and chasing each other's tails. It couldn't be decided in regulation, as the cats had to go to overtime.
As Brandon Marcello of Alabama Media Group noted, the drama was palpable:
This was no ordinary overtime, though. This was a cute-off. As such, there was simply no beating the Wildcats, who relied on Montuna to secure the victory:
Of course, there are no real losers when the game is a bunch of kittens running around, playing with toys and wrestling with each other.
Actor Dylan Neal shined a light on the real importance of the event:
The Kitten Bowl is undoubtedly silly, but it's a great cause—all 92 participating kittens have already been adopted—and it gives fans an opportunity to relax in anticipation of one of the most tense sporting events of the year.
As the Wildcats look to begin a dynasty, next year's iteration should be just as aww-worthy.