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Exiles Youth Progress to Play-offs

Kent Exiles Youth 6-0 East Kent Mavericks Youth

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Ike Udeagbara scores

The Kent Exiles Youth improved to 5-1-1 and secured a playoff spot at the weekend by grinding out a 6-0 victory over the East Kent Mavericks, and in the process, eliminating them and the Cambridgeshire Cats from the playoff race.

As the old football adage goes, “Defence wins Championships” – and while the young Exiles have yet to record a championship to date, it was their defense which, in this game, kept them in contention for their first. The only points of the game came on Exiles Junior squad graduate Ike Udeagbara’s 35 yard interception return in the second quarter, and on a day when the offense struggled to move the ball, a third quarter goal-line stand also proved crucial.

Kent received the opening kickoff, and a good return from Folahanmi Dare saw them set up shop in Mavericks territory. The Exiles offense started brightly with gains on the ground from Tobi Ita and Chaz Mulvihill, and found themselves in the East Kent red zone, but after a sack on QB James Cunningham and a failed 4th down conversion, the Mavericks took over possession.

Abdul Habib - QB Nightmare!

The Exiles defense answered with an excellent first series against the Mavericks option offense, with Gavin Jones and Gavin Elliot making stops to force a three and out. After an exchange of punts, East Kent again found themselves deep in their own territory, where the Exiles came closest to open the scoring, as Abdul Habib, who was to spend most of his day causing disruption in the East Kent backfield broke through and almost recorded a sack for a safety. However the East Kent QB was able to get rid of the ball just in time, and the tipped pass ruled out the possibility of an intentional grounding call.

The teams traded punts for most of the second quarter, as the Exiles offense was slowed by the loss of starting Tailback Ita with an ankle injury. The Kent Defence continued its good form, with Martynas Juras recovering a fumble, but the offense again struggling to convert their opportunities into points. With East Kent in their own half, their QB tried to complete a pass, but linebacker Udeagbara jumped the route and intercepted the ball. A great block from Mulvihill allowed him to beat the last defender and take the ball in for his first touchdown in an Exiles uniform. The PAT was blocked, and Kent led 6-0.

Lee Robbins recovers the fumble

The second half began with the Exiles in possession, but after a penalty they were forced to punt. Zac Hill’s booming kick pinned East Kent all the way back to inside their own ten, but the Mavericks at this point looking like the stronger side and were able to make inroads and after two big gains on outside running plays, and a run up the middle, they found themselves with a first down on the Kent 11 yard line. This was do-or-die time for both sides. East Kent made 7 yards on three plays as the Exiles defense answered the call. On 4th down, East Kent ran up the middle, but great defensive line play and gang tackling kept the Mavericks a yard short of a fresh set of downs from the 1-yard line.

The rest of the game saw the Mavericks continue to pressure with a well-executed running game, but the Exiles defense held firm and was able to contain their mobile Quarterback and speedy Running Backs. Jones came through on a blitz to make a key 3rd down stop, and Habib recorded 2 key sacks on 3rd downs in the final period, the Defensive End proving almost unblockable on the day. Joe-John Elliot had an excellent second half, and Dare, Robert Kwan and Ben Abbott provided further strong run support. A tipped pass from Peter Barker snuffed out a Mavericks threat through the air on East Kent’s final drive, and then the final sack by Habib sealed the game. The Exiles offense ran out the clock, and Kent were able to celebrate only their second ever playoff trip.

Coach Samartin is soaked!

Head Coach Paul Samartin received the traditional water dousing after the game and said, “Myself and all the other coaches are immensely proud of the team, and they deserve the reward of the playoffs for all their hard work. This was an ugly win, but we’ll take it! Our offense had a tough day but I’m confident they will bounce back. We looked rusty after having our last 2 games awarded to us, which certainly didn’t help us get into a rhythm. The defense really stepped up, and I’m happy that they were able to rise to the occasion whenever it was asked of them. We’re ecstatic to be going the playoffs, but are firmly gunning for the number one spot in the division when we visit the Gladiators.”

The Exiles Youth can improve to a 6-1-1 record with a road win over Colchester on 15th August. To win the division, they would have win by more than the 26 point margin that Colchester managed in game three of the season. Full details of the game can be found on


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