|May 1, 2011||2:30 pm||BAFA NL II East||2011|
18 - 18Full Time
The Spartans continued their unbeaten season with a tough battle against Divisional foes Kent Exiles that saw the sides share the spoils with an 18-18 tie.
Both teams came into the game having won the opening matches in impressive style – the Spartans swept aside the Norwich Devils 71-8, whilst the Exiles dominated their County rivals Maidstone Pumas 62-20. This game would be a true litmus test for the Spartans – the Exiles were playing Division One football in 2010, and promised to be a tough opponent.
As the sun poured down on the turf at Hannakins Farm, the Exiles capitalised on a powerful rushing attack to score the games first points and take an early 6-0 lead.
However, their joy was soon turned to dismay as Spartans return man Craig Johnson took the following kickoff back for a touchdown, and with running back Steven Hull converting, Essex were leading 8-6 as the first quarter ended.
The second quarter saw both teams struggle to make any impression, and as the whistle sounded to end the first half, the Spartans were still holding on to their slender 8-6 advantage.
In the third quarter, some outstanding Spartans special teams play saw a punt downed on the Exiles 3 yard line , and the Spartans defense could smell blood. Lineman Lawrence Reid quickly took advantage, hunting down Exiles quarterback Zac Richie in the endzone for a safety that extended the Essex lead to 10-6.
Spartans Head Coach Marc Saunders then joined the Spartans backfield tandem of Steven Hull and Dujon Bostwick, and the trio of power runners moved the team down the field before Saunders powered his way in for the score. The jubilant Spartans watched their coach score the 2-point conversion and Essex were pulling away, 18-6.
However, their celebrations were put on ice as the Exiles scored on a long pass play to end the third quarter with a score of 18-12, and scored the only points of the fourth quarter though the air to end the game with a final score of 18-18.
“This was a hard-fought game that was always going to go down to the wire,” said Saunders. “Despite the lack of a win, the Spartans gave a gutsy performance which will need to be improved on when we face the Exiles again later this season”.
The Spartans next opponents are the Division 2 East leaders Milton Keynes Pathfinders, on Sunday 15th May at Hannakins Farm, Billericay. Kickoff is at 2:30pm, and the team welcome anyone interested in coming down to cheer them on.
The Exiles may have slowed the Tide – but it’s still moving. The Black Tide rolls on!