Team performance gives Exiles victory
Ipswich Cardinals 20-25 Kent Exiles
Starwind finished with 149 yards
Over the past few seasons Exiles vs Cardinals has meant one thing, tense games which can go either way, and this one was no exception.
With the Exiles entering the game with key personnel injured, they knew it would take an all-round team performance to win the game, and critically keep their play-off aspirations intact.
The first quarter was tentative, with neither side making any impact on the game, but as the second quarter started the Cardinals entered Exiles territory, and on third down quarterback Don Byrd found receiver Terrell Powell on the sideline for a 37 yard score. Mark Vickers burst through the Cardinals line to block the extra point.
Not to be outdone, the Exiles drove downfield themselves following the kick-off, and the drive looked to have ended when quarterback Aaron Griffiths found Damian Marshall over the middle with a 15 yard pass, and his first career receiving touchdown. But it was not to be, as a holding penalty negated the score. Not to be denied though Griffiths found Sean Starwind on the very next play for a 25 yard score. Starwind then also kicked the point after.
Then in an almost exact replica of their previous score, the Cardinals Byrd found Powell again for a 24 yard touchdown, and the duo hooked up again to score the two point conversion, and leave the score at 14-7 for the Cardinals at half time.
Marshall denied Touchdown
Despite the score the Exiles had played well, and they knew it. So immediately looked to step up a gear as the second half began. The defence did just that as Steve Morrison forced a fumble for Theo Coleman-Brown to recover. That set up Starwind to take the pitch, and convert a 31 yard field goal.
Most of the rest of the quarter was dominated by the Exiles defence; Ade Balogun forced another fumble for Kerry Gray to recover, although the offence could not convert it into any points.
As the final quarter began the Exiles defence again forced the Cardinals to punt, and the offence then found some room. Starwind making a catch to get the Exiles down to the 5 yard line, from where Paul Samartin took the ball three plays in a row culminating in his score from the one yard line. The extra point was blocked, and the Exiles had a slender 2 point lead.
The lead was extended to five points following Marlon Smith's interception of Byrd, as Starwind kicked a 22 yard field goal.
But, as these games have a habit of doing, the momentum crucially swung back to the Cardinals, looking out of it after a great tackle by Carl Cahoon bought up a fourth down, a taunting penalty gifted the Cardinals another chance and they gratefully accepted with Paul Borstell rumbling in from 13 yards out. The point after was not converted, and with less than three minutes remaining the Cardinals had taken a one point lead, 20-19.
The Exiles had to score on their next drive, and that man Starwind stepped up once again with a great catch down the sideline from Griffiths to get the Exiles into range almost straight away. Two plays later, and it was a crucial third down near the Cardinals endzone, Griffiths threw to Colin Chislett, but he was tackled at the one yard line to set up a final play for the Exiles to score. Head Coach Rowe signaled for the field goal team to come on once again, but then dramatically changed his mind and decided to try and punch the ball in for the touchdown. The Exiles sideline held their breath, as they knew they had to score, and behind a massive push from the offensive line Griffiths took the ball in for the crucial touchdown, and a 25-20 lead.
The Cardinals had 40 seconds left to score, but their hopes were ended when Morrison sacked Byrd as time expired, and the Exiles had the victory.
The Exiles now have a week to rest and heal some of the injuries before traveling to West London to take on the table topping London Cobras, and a chance to avenge their defeat earlier in the season.
Full details of the Exiles season can be found on their website, www.kentexiles.co.uk.Tweet