Exiles go for the win, and come up just short
Kent Exiles 29-30 Cambridgeshire Cats
Zac Ritchie's pass to Jon Miller fell incomplete in the endzone in the final minute of this enthralling game, which had seen a spirited Exiles comeback, and for the second time this season the Exiles had lost by just one point.
The game had started badly, as the Cats American contingent got them off to a flying start in the first quarter. A 59 yard run and a 62 yard pass followed a 37 yard field goal, and a 17-0 lead had soon been gained.
As the second quarter began, a change in fortune began with a Lee Baxter sack of the Cats quarterback in the endzone for a safety, and two points for the Exiles. Ritchie then orchestrated a drive which finished with Colin Chislett scoring on a 38 yard pass. Bradley McManus kicked the extra point, and the Exiles were back in it at 17-9.
Another good drive from the Cats saw then extend their lead on a 16 yard pass, and many thought that the Exiles were out of it at 23-9 down, but a great kick return from Junior team graduate Gavin Jones sparked the offence, and Ritchie found Chislett once again for the score, this time from 5 yards out, McManus again kicked the point after and it was 23-16.
The second half started with another great Exiles drive, Kieron Woolmer running for tough yards, whilst Ritchie found Wesley Eversley with a couple of passes, before Miller caught the touchdown pass from 5 yards out, McManus was again good with the point after, and the game was tied.
Defence then got the upper hand for most of the game, Jon Dwyer again impressing for the Exiles, whilst Kyle Gurney and Nick Clifford made a host of plays to stop the Cats. But just when the Exiles thought they had the Cats where they wanted them a 73 yard catch and run stunned the home crowd and with only minutes remaining the Cats led again 30-23.
With the game on the line, the Exiles offence came good with two stunning plays. Firstly rookie receiver Ennis Alhashimi pulled in a sensational one handed catch, and then mercurial running back Eversley took a short pass from Ritchie and turned it into a stunning touchdown as he twisted, turned, and broke tackles before forcing his way over the line for the score.
With only a minute left in the game Head Coach Tony Bainbridge called for the two point conversion, and went for the victory rather than the draw, and despite a diving effort Ritchies pass to Miller fell agonisingly incomplete.
Following the game Bainbridge was in reflective mood, "nobody really expected us to be in this game, but we showed we can play good tough football today. We drove the ball well, and made some good defensive plays. Save for a few big plays from the Cats this would have been a very different score line".
The Exiles next play at Oxford Road in Sidcup on the 3rd June, full details can be found at www.kentexiles.co.uk