|August 8, 2010||12:00 pm||BAFL II South East||2010|
|Bedfordshire Blue Raiders||0||2||6||8||16||Win|
13 - 16Full Time
Essex Spartans have one foot in the playoffs despite a narrow and hard-fought loss away to the Bedfordshire Blue Raiders, 16-13.
The loss drops the Spartans in a potential three-way tie for second place with the Blue Raiders and Norwich Devils, but the team can take comfort in knowing that only a Norwich victory over the unbeaten London Olympians would spell the end of their season.
Both teams started the game rushing, and the injury-depleted Spartans were dealt a major blow early in the game when talismanic running back Steven Hull was forced to leave the game early in the first quarter through injury. Hull was forced to watch from the sidelines as kicker Aaron Davidson had a chance to open the scoring with a long-range field goal. Davidson was unlucky to narrowly miss as the ball sailed inches wide left.
Spartans running backs Danny Wallace and Craig “Turbo” Willis moved the ball effectively on the ground, but the Spartans were thankful to their special teams for blocking a Bedford field goal to leave the first quarter scoreless.
The second quarter saw the Spartans pinned back deep in their own territory, and the Blue Raiders opened the scoring by dropping Spartans quarterback James Dawson in his own endzone for a 2-point safety. The Spartans disappointment was soon turned to joy, however, as cornerback Tom Marston intercepted a wayward Blue Raider pass and returned it for a touchdown. Davidson converted successfully and the Spartans ended the half leading 7-2.
The second half opened with the Blue Raiders rushing attack marching the team down the field, only to see their second field goal attempt blocked by the swarming Spartans special teams. However the Blue Raiders continued to pound their way through the Spartans defense and eventually broke through to score with a 13-yard rush. The 2-point conversion attempt failed, leaving the Spartans trailing 8-7.
Hull returned to action and it was a case of “anything you can do, we can do better” – Hull broke right and looked to have been stopped after a short gain, but used his strength and power to break free of an attempted tackle, turned left and followed some immense Spartan blocking on an impressive 50-yard dash into the endzone to put the Spartans back on top 13-8.
The forth quarter continued with the Blue Raiders rushing attack pounding through the Spartans defensive as they worked their way into scoring territory. However, their passing attack was not as effective, Marstons second interception of the game killing another Bedfordshire drive.
The Spartans offense struggled to move the ball, and as the game drew to a close the Spartans found themselves backed up in their own half of the field. The Blue Raiders powered into the endzone for the final score of the game and the victory, 16-13.
Spartans Head Coach Marc Saunders said, “This was a good effort by the players who travelled to Bedfordshire, but sadly it wasn’t quite enough on the day. We now need to put this behind us, and focus on the playoffs. The Spartans are not done yet!”
The Spartans will now return to training at Hannakins Farm and await their fate when the Devils and Olympians face off on August 22nd.