|July 5, 2015||2:30 pm||BAFA NL II South||2015|
24 - 24Full Time
The Essex Spartans’ eyes remain on the play-offs after a tense and lengthy confrontation in the East End against rivals London Hornets on Sunday, which ended in an unusual draw of 24 points apiece.
Eager to overturn the 12 – 22 loss to the Hornets on home soil back in May, the Spartans were off to a flying start with a 25 yard kick-off return from #44 Ernest Owusu.
The Hornets struggled to make progress on their drive with their first down flagged twice for offside and a substitution infraction, and then suffered a five-yard penalty for a face-cage incident. Spartans #13 Felix Olu opened the gate for the Spartans in their 3rd down with a 25 yard dash on the outside to put the visitors in front 0 – 6.
Ever the retaliators, the Hornets QB threw a 35-yard touchdown pass on their next drive to waiting #14 who levelled the field 6 – 6. Their joy was short-lived however, as Spartans #90 Aaron Millar tackled on the conversion and caused a fumble. Spartans DB #11 Norris Owusu grabbed the ball and ran it the full distance of the pitch to put the Spartans back in the lead 6 – 8.
The atmosphere stayed tense throughout the remainder of the half, as the five-minute warning was given with no change to the score. In the dying moments, #44 Owusu made a 45 yard run with returning #25 Lee Millar giving considerable aid.
It was an outstanding 25-yard touchdown pass from Spartans QB #18 Myles Peterson to WR #19 Ashton Lord that extended the Spartans again to 6 – 16. The Hornets, determined not to finish the half on a deficit, managed to outrun the Spartans defence in their final drive and finished the half 12 – 16.
It was all drama in the second half as the Hornets put themselves ahead for the first time with an early touchdown, only for #11 Owusu to once again snatch the conversion and grant two further points to the Spartans. The Hornets then turned the Spartans over once more with another touchdown, and missed the kick that would eventually decide the result.
The third quarter passed in what can only be described as a nail-biting defensive stalemate, as the Hornets battled to keep their lead and the Spartans clawed for a leveller. #13 Olu came close on the fourth down at the close of the quarter but was tackled with just 5 yards left to run, to go into the fourth quarter with the Spartans still trailing 24 – 18.
Several on-field scuffles and disagreements escalated quickly in the final quarter which led to Spartans Head Coach Sean Benton being ejected from the field – an ironic turn of events echoing Hornets HC Anthony Price’s ejection at the Tony Palmer Memorial Field in May, the last time the teams met.
It was QB Peterson and Olu to the rescue once more when Peterson pitched to Olu, who ran in for the equaliser with less than 90 seconds on the clock. The conversion was unsuccessful and the final whistle came with 24 points for each team.
The Essex Spartans return to training this weekend and will be on the road for their penultimate game of the season away at Ipswich Cardinals on Sunday 26th July.