29th July 2001 - O's shatter Sundevils hopes. Pirates take Northern Conference

Southern Sundevils 14-42 London O's.

The London O’s ended the Southern SunDevils undefeated season with an 42 -14 win at the Mountbatten Stadium, Portsmouth in punishing heat.

After the game, Coach Riq Ayub said "I hope people might start to give us some of the respect we deserve. We play 100mph football. We never slow down. We only have one pace. We’re going to come at you all day long and from all sides of the ball."

London O’s General manager, Steve McAlpine talking about the SunDevils, said "Coach Roberson has a great outfit here. Fine facilities, and fine disciplined young players. Before the season started I said Southern are a team to watch, and would be the surprise of the southern conference. They are not finished yet this year, but you wait until next year. I think they could push us very hard indeed."

 

First quarter

The SunDevils received the ball and returned it 19 yards. After a 5 yard off side penalty, QB Cliff Boddington started with a couple of completions for 11 yards before pitching outside to Anthony Stitt who was stopped by Shola Goppy before making a first down. The ensuing punt put the O’s back on their own 15 yard line.

Stuart Franklin started as QB, but the Offense went three and out, although with penalties the drive seemed longer.

Southern went to the run, Stitt making the first down after two runs tackled by Scott Rowe. A penalty made it first and fifteen and the following pass to MacMillan was defended by Goppy. Stitt got 11 before Tim Newton stopped him. Stitt again ran for 5, before Rowe did the honours. If the run is working, it was always tempting to go to the air. Unfortunately for many offensive co-ordinators playing the London O’s, this is a treacherous route, as Lance Knight proved by making a leaping interception. Unfortunately for the O’s offensive co-ordinator, Lance Knight failed to recognise his position on the field and with at least 10 clear yards in front of him, downed the ball on the 4 yard line believing himself to be in the end zone. Doh!

Warren Keen gave the O’s some breathing space with a 12 yard run. Further runs by Keen, Roland Williams, Stuart Franklin and Rob Scotland brought up 3 and 6 on the Southern 35 yard line. Franklin hit Clive Palumbo for a 16 yard reception. Keen again carried the ball, but this time for a 19 yard touchdown. Andy Boyle kicked the PAT.

Boyle kicked off through the end zone, so the SunDevils started on their own 20 yard line. When playing catch up, teams often go to the air (for the result of this against the O’s - see above). Scott Rowe made the interception returning it for 21 yards back to the SunDevils 20 yard line. The next three offensive plays netted nil yardage, so Boyle went on for the field goal which went wide left to end the quarter.

The SunDevils went three and out.The O’s continued to run the ball through Rob Scotland, Keen, and Franklin. With 100 yards rushing already and the ball on the 11 yard line, Franklin hit the wide open Adam Earle in the end zone for the score. The Boyle PAT was good.

The SunDevils did what they do best, Stitt ran, this time for 45 yards before Knight brought him down. Now on the O’s 8 yard line, the O’s defensive stiffened and Knight intercepted the Boddington pass, but this time Lance made some forward progress. Franklin hit Palumbo for 17 yards, but a fumble by Williams returned the ball to Southern on the O’s 40 yard line. After a couple of small gains, Dave Glover sacked Boddington for a 10 yard loss. Forced to pass, Boddington hit Rowe for his fourth interception of the half. The O’s sent Williams on a run for two yards which brought the clock down to the two minute warning. Keen ran for 18 yards on two plays. Franklin then lofted a ball which Marvin Allen caught for the 9 yard TD reception. The kick from Boyle PAT was good, so the half ended:

 

Third quarter

Dean Locke returned the low kick off 10 yards. Junior Price took the field as QB and immediately hit Earle for 27 yards. Keen ran the remaining 20 yards on the next play for his second TD of the game. Boyle’s kick was good

Boyle’s kick off went through the end zone for the touchback. After an incomplete pass defended by Tim Newton, the ground game of Southern garnered them a tough first down. The O’s defense were now made to work. Sacha Conte legally slam dunked the runner in a way that would have not been out of place in WWF Smackdown. Lawrence Reid hurried an incomplete pass out of QB Boddington, but the ball was deep in O’s territory. Despite tackles from Aden Durde, Danny Berry and others the SunDevils were on the O’s two yard line. The D could not repeat the heroics of last week against the Bulls and that man Stitt scored. The two point conversion failed.

Dean Locke returned his second kick off 8 yards following another low kick, but the O’s now went three and out. Stitt ran for 11 breaking tackles, then a further 8 yards to end the quarter deep in the O’s end of the field.

 

Fourth quarter

The opening play of the final period was a 20 yard touchdown run by Stitt. This time the two pointer did its job and the deficit was reduced to 14:London O’s 28 Southern SunDevils 14. Allen returned the ball 9 yards. Keen lost a couple and the O’s were second and 12 on their own 26 yard line. Price found Palumbo behind the defence, and he was off to the end zone. The Boyle PAT was good, restoring the 21 point cushion. Southern could not sustain the next drive, with a sack by Garry Thomas taking the ball back 20 yards. The London offense took the ball on Southern’s 28 yard line. Price found Boyle for a 13 yard reception before handing the ball off to Keen for his third score of the game, this one a 15 yard run. Andy Boyle’s kick was good. Another Boyle kick into the end zone, but this was returned for 20 yards. Stitt ran up the middle for 9, but the SunDevils now had three incomplete passes, the first of which was batted down by Manny Oyewole. Offensively the game was now opening up. Both teams made good plays for decent yardage, but neither team could keep a drive alive for very long. Eventually, the SunDevils fumbled the ball away on a bad snap, and Lawrence Reid gratefully landed on the ball as the two minute warning came up. The O’s sent in their third QB, Dominic Dearman. Sonnel Baptiste ran for 17 yards and with 50 seconds left on the clock, the O’s decided to practise a field goal. The kick missed leaving the final score:

Coach Messenger was delighted with his offense: "Today, we finally came alight, with 6 touchdowns (3 in the air and 3 on the ground) and over 400 yards of total offense, we started to show what we’re capable of".