|July 31, 2011||2:30 pm||BAFA NL II East||2011|
75 - 10Full Time
The Spartans bounced back from their disappointing loss to the Kent Exiles by booking a place in the playoffs with a 75-10 destruction of the Maidstone Pumas.
Eager to make amends for last weeks heartbreak, the Spartans dismantled the Pumas in a dominant display that sent a warning to the rest of the League. The victory secures second-place in the Eastern Division for the team, and a trip to the post-season for the second year in succession.
Mistakes rocked the team early in the game – after taking the opening kickoff, a botched snap on the first offensive play gifted Maidstone excellent field position. Although the Spartans defense held firm, the Pumas were able to open the scoring with a field goal to take a surprising 3-0 lead early in the opening quarter.
The Spartans responded quickly – quarterback James Dawson connecting with receiver Jon Tottman for a touchdown, and although the 2-point conversion attempt failed, the Spartans were ahead 6-3.
Maidstone struck back with a long rushing score, and with the extra point conversion, the Spartans were stunned to find themselves behind 6-10. It was time to dig deep – if the team wanted that playoff spot, they would have to fight for it.
Dawson (11 of 17, 252 yards, 6 TD) directed the offense in an almost-flawless display, hitting a wide-open Sim Clarke with a long aerial strike for the quarterbacks second scoring pass of the day. After Clarke strolled into the endzone and Aaron Davidson added the extra point, the Spartans were ahead to stay 13-10 as the teams entered the second quarter.
As the match progressed, the Spartans flexed their muscles, and left the Pumas in the wake of the consuming Black Tide. Running back Steven Hull scored his first touchdown of the match with an electrifying run, before Dawson and Tottman connected again for the receivers second score of the day (5 rec, 117 yards, 2 TD).
Dawson found Sim Clarke again for the receivers second scoring grab of the afternoon, and with Davidson converting, the visitors had one eye on the playoffs at 34-10.
There was enough time left in the second half for Dawson to collect another touchdown, delivering a perfect deep ball for speedster Andrew Clarke to collect for the rookies first touchdown as a Spartan, sparking scenes of jubilation on the sideline.
The Spartans went into halftime with a 40-10 lead. Despite the early setback, the team had played like true warriors, crushing their opponents in a captivating half of football. Linebacker James White (6.5 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery) had been in fine form, punishing the Pumas at every turn as part of a defense that was smothering, punishing, and unforgiving.
The spirit continued into the second half, defensive lineman Aaron Millar tearing through the Pumas to register a sack, a forced fumble, and a safety in the same play. Hull (9 rush, 141 yards, 3 TD, 1 PAT – 1 rec, 51 yards, 1 TD) then scampered for his second touchdown of the day , and with James Woodwards conversion, the Spartans marched into the final quarter with a comprehensive lead of 50-10.
Hull scored again as the quarter began, and with Hull also converting, the Spartans were cruising towards the victory they needed at 58-10. Linebacker Neil Cooper ended a Pumas drive with an interception, and James Woodward strolled in for yet-another Spartans touchdown. Running back Martin Moran scored his first points of the season with the 2-point conversion.
Davidson added a long-range field goal late in the quarter, and with Eugene Tangney recovering a Pumas fumble, the final play of the game saw Hull break free for a long score to end the game at 75-10 Essex.
With the emphatic victory, the Spartans not only booked a place in the playoffs, they also ended the season with the teams best record since 1997, and set a record for the highest amount of points scored by the team in a regular season.
Day by day . . .
Jubilant Spartans head Coach Marc Saunders said, “We needed the win today to shake off the disappointment of our loss to the Exiles. After a shaky start, the team got back on track and played some great football.”
The team now face a wait while other teams complete their regular seasons before they learn who they will face in the post-season. The Exiles victory over Bedfordshire means the Division title lands in Kent, and the Black Tide will take to the road as they look towards the Bowl game at Crystal Palace.
Full details of the playoffs will be published on this website once they have been determined. The Spartans will hope to see many of their fans travel with them and cheer them on, wherever they may end up playing.
ROLL TIDE ROLL!