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Exiles Juniors level 'Battle of Kent'

East Kent Mavericks 12-16 Kent Exiles

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The Kent Exiles Junior team got off to the best possible start to the 2012 campaign on Sunday with a victory on the road against divisional rivals the East Kent Mavericks.  After losing both 'Battle of Kent' encounters to the Mavericks in 2011, the Exiles were keen for revenge, and secured the win behind an impressive performance on both sides of the ball.

The Exiles made a fast start to this game, forcing a Mavericks punt on the first series.  The offense took to the field and showed an impressive grasp of the offensive system which many of the team had only been running for a few months.  Quarterback Alex Orphanau ran the system to perfection all day, and the opening series showed that Kent's offense should be a force to be reckoned with this year.  Attacking the East Kent defense from multiple angles, Kent put together an almost length of the field drive, with Orphanau, Kay Twum and Daniel Wusu all making big gains.  It was to be Wusu who would open the Exiles account for the season, taking the handoff over the right side and  powering through the Mavericks' secondary from 30 yards out.  Kent went for two, and Ophanau kept the ball himself this time up the middle to add the conversion. 

Into the second quarter and the Exiles defense was showing dominance.  New 2012 recruits Bobby White and Kofi Hippolite clogged up the middle from their defensive tackle positions, causing havoc in the Mavericks backfield and making several tackles for losses.  Kent forced another punt, after an apparent interception from Digby Holland was ruled to have hit the turf, and then put together a second long drive deep into Mavericks territory.  The Exiles again utilised their stable of talented backs to move the ball, with Wusu and Danny Whitfield making impressive yardage.  Inside the red zone, Orphanau looked for Freddie Leggett in the corner of the endzone, but  the ball fell just out of reach and Kent failed on a fourth down try.  However, three plays later, the defense made amends, after forcing a third and long, a bad snap sailed over the head of the East Kent QB, and after a scramble for the ball at the goalline, Kay Twum emerged from the bottom of the pile with the ball in the Mavericks endzone and a second score.  Orphanau crashed over for his second two-pointer of the day and Kent took a 16-0 lead into halftime.

The third quarter saw something of a stalemate, as both sides lost some rhythm and turned the ball over.  The Mavericks adjusted formation and began to move the ball more effectively on the ground, but the Exiles defense held firm.  Victor Omolauje had an excellent game at linebacker, with a number of impressive tackles cleaning up behind the Exiles impressive defensive line. 

The fourth period began with the Exiles still up 16-0.  The defense held firm against an East Kent drive, with Twum applying pressure from the edge and batting down a couple of pass attempts.  With under five minutes to go though, the Mavericks were able to strike back with a score on the ground in the left corner of the endzone.  The Exiles kept the two-pointer out to keep it a 2-score game, but then East Kent recovered an onside kick to set up a tense finish.  Shortly after, finding time to throw, the Mavericks QB completed a bomb down the right sideline in the Exiles endzone – and what seemed like a comfortable lead earlier was now 16-12.  Crucially, the Exiles stopped a second two-point attempt, and with the game hanging on another onside kick, the pressure was on the Exiles.  Roman Zamorin was able to fall on the ball, but a penalty meant East Kent were to kick again.  This time Orphanau capped an excellent performance by jumping on the ball and the Exiles ran the clock out to chalk up the win.

Head Coach Paul Samartin was proud of the team's performance - “We did a lot of good things in the first half – the offense really looked slick at times.  The guys have put a lot of time and effort into learning this system and it showed today.  I was also very happy with the defensive performance overall,  but we need to make sure we can keep our focus for the whole four quarters.  It's a great feeling to start the season with a win though, as we really hope to be contenders this year.”  The Exiles will look to improve to 2-0 next week on the road against the South London Renegades.  Kickoff is at 2:30pm.


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