Exiles remain undefeated in high scoring draw
Milton Keynes Pathfinders 36 - 36 Kent Exiles
|Ryan Wilson - Early Interception|
The Exiles travelled away for the third consecutive game, this time to Milton Keynes, ond for the second week in succession travelled back having come from behind to tie the game.
On a windy Pathfinders pitch, the Exiles started fastest, Yazid Garba recording his first Exiles catch, from the reliable Zac Ritchie, in spectacular fashion in the corner of the endzone after the ball had been batted by a Pathfinder defender. Bradley McManus kicked the point after, and the Exiles led 7-0.
Then on the Pathfinders first drive the Pathfinders went for it in their own territory on 4th down, only for Ryan Wilson to make the interception, and return it 10 yards to the 18 yard line. From their Ritchie quickly found Audley Swain for the score, and after McManus slotted the extra point the Exiles led 14-0 early in the game.
The Pathfinders replied as the first quarter finished, and bundled the ball into the endzone on a 1 yard run, but the extra point was wide to leave the score 14-6.
Chris Hope continued where he left off against the Spartans the previous week, returning the kick off for what he thought was a touchdown, only for the referees to call his foot had toched the sideline whilst breaking a tackle, so the Exiles took over on the Pathfinders 21 yard line. Richie hit Swain for 17 yards, and then Garba made his second catch from 4 yards out for the score. The wind pushed the extra point wide, but it was now 20-6.
|Yazid Garba - 2 Touchdowns|
Youth Team graduate Lee Baxter then finished the Pathfinders next drive as he recovered a fumble on the Exiles own 5 yard line. From there the offence could not score, and punted the ball back to the Pathfinders. Again the Exiles defence held, with tackles from Kerry Gray and Carl Alexis, and forced the Pathfinders to punt, the ball landing on the Exiles own 1 yard line.
The Exiles then tried to run the ball out, and for the second week running conceded a Safety as Paul Crawford was caught before he could get out of the endzone, and the Pathfinders had clawed two point back, 20-8.
Having to then kick the ball back to the Pathfinders then also proved costly, as their Quarterback threw a short pass which was turned into a 27 yard touchdown by the reciever, and despite stopping the 2 point conversion in a short space of time the Exiles had let their opponents back in at 20-14 at halftime.
The Exiles then started the second half fast, a great 23 yard rumble from David Ndede set up Ritchie and Swain again, this time an amazing one handed catch saw Swain run in from 42 yards out. McManus again hit the point after and it was 27-14.
A run of Exiles mistakes then looked to have cost them the game, as the pathfinders scored three touchdowns. The first followed a botched snap on an Exiles punt, gifting the Pathfinders the ball on the 3 yard line, from where they punched it in, and kicked the Extra point. Then after a good drive Ritchie was intercepted on the Pathfinders own 12 yard line, but a blown coverage saw a 73 yard catch and run for the score. Then as the final quarter began Wesley Eversley fumbled the ball on his own 19 yard line, for it to be recovered by the home side, and then score once again on a 3 yard recption, and just like that the Exiles were two scores behind, losing 36-27.
|Zac Ritchie - 5 Touchdown passes|
Then the comeback was on, as the Kent side were determined not to lose. Ritchie constructed a fantastic drive completing passes to Jon Miller, Swain, Garba and Rob Welling before Eversley made amends with a 22 yard scoring grab, the extra point failed, but the Exiles were back in it at 36-33 down.
A Kerry Greay sack, and then a batted down pass from Adam Pearson saw the Exiles get the ball back for Ritchie again to get a drive started. This time though the offence could not punch it in, and McManus was called on to kick a 31 yard field goal in the swirling wind to tie the game. The kick was good, and the Exiles had pulled it back to 36 all.
That was not to be the end of the drama, as the Exiles defence once again held the Pathfinders as rookie defensive back Drew Filipowicz nearly secured his first interception, giving Ritchie the ball back once more with under 2 minutes remaining. But a completed pass to Sammy Jobson resulted in a dubious fumble which was recovered by the Pathfinders, and instead of having a chance to win the game, the Exiles once again had to save it. A couple of plays later the Pathfinders had a chance to score, but a booming hit by safety Chris Price stopped the ball carrier dead on the Exiles 2 yard line as time expired, and for the second consecutive week the Exiles had come from behind for the tie.
Following the game Exiles Head Coach Tony Bainbridge commented "My young team once again showed a lot of heart and courage to come back in this game, but we also showed a lot of elementary mistakes to get us in the position in the first place. The bottom line is we are still unbeaten, and still have a long way to go in this season, and our division is showing that anything can happen!"
The Exiles now have 2 weeks practice before playing again, as local rivals the Maidstone Pumas visit the Exiles in their first home game of the season on the 5th June. For full details of how to come along and watch the match visit www.kentexiles.co.uk.Tweet