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Exiles Outgunned and Outlasted by Mavericks

Kent Exiles Junior 24 - 34 East Kent Mavericks

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The Kent Exiles U19 team were 1-1 and looking to improve to a winning record; the East Kent Mavericks were 1-0 and attempting to claim sole position of the top spot in the BAFACL Junior Eastern Division. Something had to give, and for the most part in this game it was defense - but ultimately it was the Mavericks who outlasted the Exiles in the 4th quarter, who despite a gutsy effort, would end the day below .500.

The Mavericks made the more impressive start to the game, returning the opening kickoff deep into Exiles territory, and scoring on their first play from scrimmage with a 20 yard run up the middle. After a missed conversion, Kent were 6-0 down without having touched the ball.

Ryan Nestor returned the ensuing kickoff past the 50, and Kent put a short drive together, but QB Ben Abbott was intercepted at the goal line. However, despite being denied on this occasion, the Exiles offense had plenty left in the tank.

The Exiles defense stepped up when needed as the Mavericks drove into the red zone, and after a 4th down stop, Kent took over inside their own 10 yard line. 3 plays later, the Exiles faced 3rd and long, and Coach Samartin gambled, calling the end around. The call paid off, but vastly better than hoped. Nestor took the handoff and got to the outside, and seemingly hemmed in against the sideline, fended off a couple of would-be tacklers, cut back and picking up blocks downfield, outpaced the Mavs’ defense for an electrifying 94 yard score, the longest play in Exiles Junior football history. Kent couldn’t hit the 2-point conversion, and it was 6-6.

The second quarter saw the Mavericks move the ball well on the ground, with the Exiles defense struggling to contain their scrambling quarterback, #10.. However, through the air, it was a different matter, as the Exiles secondary stepped up. Ben Wells made a great read to intercept an errant pass and return the ball into East Kent territory, and after the Kent failed to convert the turnover into points, Haydn Allen continued his good form with a pick on the next series. After an exchange of punts however, the Mavericks put together a drive and put their second score on the board, courtesy of their strong running game, close to half time. A successful conversion made it 14-6, but on the kickoff, Nestor made his second huge play of the day, finding a seam in the Mavericks coverage unit and sprinting 77 yards for the touchdown. Kent couldn’t tie the game on the conversion, but had picked up some much needed momentum.

This continued in the third quarter. QB Abbott had by now found some good rhythm and the Exiles put together a drive mixing the run and the pass. RB Chas Mulvihill, on his way to 73 yards from scrimmage on the day picked up a couple of first downs, and from the East Kent 35, Abbott aired it out for Nestor who beat the coverage for his third TD, and an 18-14 Exiles lead. The conversion kick attempt was blocked.

In what was becoming something of a shootout, East Kent hit back with their ground game, which was to rack up over 300 yards on the day. Kent lost DB Toby Hanington to an injury as he made a touchdown saving tackle on a Mavs RB to make life slightly more difficult for the undermanned Exiles, and East Kent finished the drive off with another score on the ground to take the lead, and then after an Exiles punt, ground down the Kent defense with another to make the score 28-18 at the end of the 3rd period.

Kent had to answer, and Abbott led his troops downfield, to hit Nestor in the right corner of the end zone for the two-way star’s 4th TD of the game, and at 28-26 the game was far from over. But another score from the Mavericks QB on a scramble sealed the game at 34-24, and Kent were unable to come back in the time remaining.

The Exiles were able to take heart from their most complete offensive performance of the season so far though - in addition to Nestor’s superb performance (330 all-purpose yards, 4TDs) Abbott passed for 118 yards at a completion percentage of just below 50%, and the offensive line gave up only 1 sack from 22 pass attempts, with Ethan Garner impressing at guard in his first game. Despite a tough day at the office for the defense, Chas Mulvihill added 12 tackles to his strong offensive showing, and Joe John Elliot (7 tackles), Haydn Allen (8, INT) and Nestor (6) also put up good defensive numbers. Rookie Connor Mitchell also had an excellent debut on the defensive line for the Exiles. Despite the loss, in what looks like a competitive year in the eastern division, the Exiles Juniors still have plenty to play for.


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