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Resilient Kent Defense not enough for Aztecs Youth Charge

Kent Exiles Youth 0 - 30 Bristol Aztecx Youth

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17-09-2010

The Youth playoffs kicked off this weekend, as underdogs Kent Exiles traveled across the South to meet the formidable Bristol Aztecs. Expectations were against the Exiles, and despite some tough and disciplined defense, the favourites came out on top in a 0 – 30 score that hid the Aztecs difficulty in moving the ball.

With the Aztecs deferring, Kent chose to receive, and returned the ball a modest way before the offense came on to get the game running. Wet conditions and nerves built up over the long coach journey saw to a slow start from the Exiles, who fumbled two of their first three plays, heading three-and-out. The punt return,however, was fumbled just two yards from a touch-down, and the Exiles regained control of the ball, before heading 3-and-out again and punting away. Returned to Exiles territory, Bristol's T-formation offense kicked into gear, and after an initial no gainer, broke a sweep down the right for #2 Jamiel Tinto's first touchdown of the day. The PAT broke down, but alive to the danger, cornerback #23 Peter Barker stopped the attempted run home.

Getting the ball back, the Kent offense again broke as water upon the rock of the Aztecs defensive line, and another punt return gave the Aztecs some promising mid-field position. Embarrassed by Bristol's early success, the Exiles defense stepped up a notch, and forced the Aztecs into a 3-and-out of their own. A perfect coffin corner punt set the Exiles offense in a tight position on their own two-yard line, and they succumbed to huge Bristol pressure to give up the safety.

More excellent defensive work from the Exiles continued to frustrate the Aztecs offense, until another deep punt bounced out of Exiles returner #1 Folahami Dare's despairing hands, and was skidded into the endzone by Bristol after a twenty yard footrace. The half ended with little movement from either side, although Bristol continued to get yards from their excellent special teams. On offense, however, the Aztecs seemed short of ideas against the containment work of Exiles OLBs Dare and #89 Ben Abbott; their only break being called back for holding and blocking in the back.

Each team stepped up their game in the second half, as the rain eased off and the game gained in intensity. Taking a rare opportunity down the middle, Tinto showed the hard truth of his reputation as one of the most dangerous and elusive runningbacks in the league, breaking several tackles to run home. In the open field, #2 seemed untouchable, and credit is due to the Exiles D, ably led by MLB #78 Gavin Jones – until being forced out by a serious rib injury late in the fourth quarter - for limiting such a talent as much as they did.

However the game took an ugly turn as the all-or-nothing mentality of both teams exacted its toll. First a scuffle nearly broke out as the Exiles accused the Aztecs of stamping a downed player – but the set-upon referees saw nothing for definite, despite giving an apparent warning to the accused player, and called penalties on both sides for the ensuing scuffle. In furious protest, the Exiles players nearly left the field, but discarding their sense of injustice, returned to continue to defy the Bristol running game. This forced Bristol to try the pass upon occasion, with no success, as quick DBs #88 Eric Gacari and #82 Ben Fortune denied Aztecs #18 L. Woollsey a reception.

Several more scuffles nearly broke out in the remainder of the game, as the Aztecs attempted to unsettle the resolute Exiles defense, inflamed by some dubious trash-talk from the Bristol coaching staff, and perceived injustices from the Exiles sideline. To the credit of both teams, however, the players in the thick of it all generally maintained their discipline within the heat of play.

As the fourth quarter got underway, the Exiles were forced to look to the air, finding the wall of Bristol's D-Line too much to break down. After some well-executed reverses to pick up yards, Exiles quarterback #7 James Cunningham began to move Kent down the field with some deep passes, exposing an unprepared secondary. However, in a heavy, powerful blitz, the Aztecs collapsed the pocket and forced a pass from Cunningham wayward, duly picking up the interception for a TD, undoing the excellent drive it had appeared to be.

After another repelled Kent attack, the Bristol Aztecs ran down the clock before kneeling to finish off the game, and head into a playoff encounter with the London Blitz.

News report appears courtesy of Peter Barker.
 

 

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