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Exiles Play Best Football of Year, but Come Home Wanting

Kent Exiles 6-14 Sabres AFC

22-07-2002

The Exiles played their penultimate game versus the Southend based Sabres on Sunday, and despite playing some of their best football this year, came away again losing to a playoff bound team. The game started well for the Exiles as they took the opening kick-off and drove downfield to the Sabres 30 yard line, but an interception by the Sabres defense prevented an early lead being taken, the Exiles defense then took over and showed the Sabres that they would be in for a tough game, some great tackling by Tony Bainbridge and Carl Alexis showed just what the defense can do, and the Sabres soon turned the ball back over to the Exiles.

 

These first two drives set the tone for the rest of the half, with the Exiles defense in dominating form, Hayden Webber grabbed his 4th interception of the season and rookie Stephen Collison continuing his impressive form by recovering a fumble, whilst the offense started on several drives without being able to get close enough to drive the ball into the endzone. This left the game finely poised at 0-0 at half time.

The Sabres fielded the kick-off to start the second half, and returned it to the half way line, but could not begin to move the ball after that, Tony Bainbridge and Paul Pester this time closing the door in the middle of the pitch. A poor punt would have given the Exiles possession on the 32yard line, but a personal foul penalty moved them back to their own 17 to start their next drive. The penalty turned out to be of no importance, and infact helped to set a new Exiles record, as they turned up the heat on the Sabres, with quarterback Andy Mountain finding receiver Martin Jefkins with a pinpoint pass on the sideline, and the speedy receiver outpaced the Sabres defense for an 83 yard touchdown, the longest in club history. It was the first of two records for the receiver on the day, as he finished the game with 8 receptions for 145 yards and the touchdown, also setting the standard for receiving yardage in a game. The extra point was no good, leaving the Exiles leading by 6-0.

The third quarter continued as the rest of the game, both teams unable to move the ball much until the Sabres managed to drive to the Exiles 20 yard line late on, but another Sabres turnover gave possession back to the Exiles. This time it was a personal foul penalty that hurt the Exiles as they were backed up to their own 7 yard line as the fourth quarter started, unable to punch the ball out, the Exiles punted from deep in their own half, and gave the Sabres their best field position of the day.

Seeing their playoff hopes disappearing the Sabres offense stepped it up a gear, completing a short pass, and for once gaining good yardage up the middle, they drove to the Exiles 2 yard line from where they punched the ball in and added the 2 point conversion to take an 8-6 lead. The Exiles offense then took over again, Andy Mountain completing passes to Roy Hall and Martin Jefkins on a nice looking drive, until the Sabres managed their only sack of the day, and forced an incompletion on fourth down handing them the ball back. The Exiles defense then began to tire a little, and an injury to their run stopping defensive lineman Carl Alexis, allowed the Sabres a little more room to run the ball, and despite a brave stand at the goal line they succumbed to a second score, and the score stood at it's final 14-6. With only 1 minute 16 seconds left on the clock, the Exiles could not find the endzone, and fell to the now playoff bound Sabres.

After the game Exiles Head Coach Nick Cursley was proud of his teams achievements, and commented,"Although this hurts as much as any loss, I know that all my players left the pitch knowing that they could not have done any more. The Sabres are a good team, and we wish them well in the playoffs".

The Exiles had some great players on the day, Tony Bainbridge led the team with 16 tackles and two fumble recoveries to earn himself the defensive most valuable player honour, he was closely followed by Mat Tompsett with 15 tackles and Paul Pester with 11 ,Paul scooped the Special teams MVP for his great coverage as well as a fumble recovery on a muffed Sabres punt. Martin Jefkins walked off with the offensive MVP after his record breaking day, Quarterback Andy Mountain finished with 18 completions for 219 yards, and Roy Hall continued his good form with 6 receptions for 46 yards.

 

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