25th September 2005

BAFL Division One

PA Knights 19-21 London Olympians

The Defending National Champions the Personal Assurance Knights lost a classic encounter with their Southern Conference rivals the London Olympians in a final that many considered to the best for a number of years.

The Knights (9-1) had won the conference title over the Olympians (8-2) but their regular season meeting were split with one win each with both games providing hard fought contests - the predictions were for a close highly competitive final and on this occasion the game met the expectations.

Both teams probed eachother on their first posessions but after a good punt retirn from Mike Dunson the Knights took over for their second posesssion on their own 29 yard line. Star running back Kingsley Ejiogu picked up 6 yards on first down and then broke free for a huge 50yd gain on second down. Tailback partner Paul Attia took over and moved the ball to the 1yd line on the next play and then finished the drive behind some superb blocking to put the Knights in front. Steve Belcher added the extra point and the Knights led 7-0.

The Knights defense were in fine form led by Tony Mackenzie and Canadian Cameron Saylor and after just 4 plays the Knights had the ball again - but 3 plays and out saw the Olympians set for a long drive into Knights territory. The Knights other Canadian Tim Siewert made his presence felt on the drive but the Olympians running star Jermaine Allen did enough to put them in scoring range. Mike Sobanjo took the ball over left tackle and into the endzone but a holding penalty brought the play back. Siewerts DE partner Liam Smith then produced a huge quarterback sack taking the Olmpians play caller down at the 19yd line. Andy Boyle stepped up to attempt a 35yd field goal but the kick went wide right and the score remained 7-0 as the second quarter began.

The Knights then embarked on another drive into Olympian territory - the champions had lost standout American FB/LB Moses Tomas with a serious concussion on the very first play of the game but Paul Wakeford stepped into the fullback role and two carries for 13yds saw the Knights making good progress. A thirty yard strike from QB Ashley Heath to TE Derek Freeman saw the Knights knocking on the door of another score. This time however it was the Olympians who came up with the sack - former London Monarch Victor E Muhammad pushing the Knights back to 2nd and 18 at the Olympians 30yd line. After an incomplete pass a short gain from Attia was nullified by a holding penalty and the Knights faced 3rd and 25 from the 37yd line. QB Heath hit Derek Freeman again - this time for 13yds giving Steve Belcher the chance to try a 41yd field goal. With long snapper Peter Field and holder Ashley Heath setting the ball up Belcher made no mistake to put the Knights ahead 10-0.

The Olympians got a good return from Clive Palumbo after Belcher boomed the kick off to the goaline - Palumbo was brought down by Chris Skillicorn - Aston at the 30yd line. Again Allen made progress but safety Neil Edwards stepped up to a combination tackle with Tony Mackenzie to stop the olympian drive on 4th down at the Knights 39yd line.

Kingsley Ejiogu made 20yds on three runs to set the Knights up at the London 43yd line. QB Heath then found utility man Steve Belcher in his Wide Receiver role down the sideline for a spectacular touchdown - he gathered his breath and kicked the extra point for a 17-0 lead for the Knights.

The Knights Defense kept London at bay and the defending champions led at half time.

This game was never going to be a one sided affair and the Olympians kept battling.

After a tough defensive exchange on the respective first posessions of the half the Knights suffered a setback when Steve Belchers 32yd Field Goal attempt was blocked. The Knights stopped the Londoners on their second posession of the quarter but punter Andy Boyle had other ideas - he took the punt snap and ran left - breaking two tackles along the way he then picked up blocks that saw him finish his run in the Knights endzone. He then kicked the extra point and the score stood at 17-7 .

The Knights made no progress on their next drive and were forced to punt. Steve Belchers punt was downed on the London 8yd line and the Knights defense took the field knowing that they needed to stop the Olympians momentum - they did just that as Tony Mackenzie broke loose to record a sack and safety to increase the Knights lead to 19-7 as the fourth quarter began.

The Knights were not able to move the ball again as the Olympian Defense fought to keep the Londoners in the game. Their offense then exploded into action sparked by a long Franklin to Junior Price connection. Jermaine Allen got reward for his efforts as he crashed into the Knights endzone from 1yd out with 11 minutes remaining in the game the score stood at 19-14.

The Knights drove confidently back into Olympian territory on their next posession with Ejiogu taking five consecutive hand offs picking up 45yds and moving the Knights to the London 26yd line. Two penalties however saw them moved out to the 36yd line - QB Heath hit WR Jon Gerring for 10yds and then after a London penalty Ejiogu ran 9yds to give the Knights 1st and 10 at the Olympian 11yd line. Another Ejiogu run saw the Knights at the 9yd line and it looked like he had sealed the game for the Knights on the next play - he ran right for a score but the play was called back for holding by the Knights left tackle. The Olympians pushed the Knights back a further 7yds on the next play and the Knights faced 3rd and 14 at the 22yd line. QB Heath threw to WR Jon Gerring on the next play but despite a great effort from the young wideout the ball fell incompletein the endzone. The Knights elected to go for the 38yd Field Goal to stretch their lead but the ball fell agonisingly short after being tipped at the line of scrimmage.

The Olympians had one shot to win the game. Taking over at their own 22yd line they drove down the field on the power running of Jermaine Allen - finally scoring on his 7yd run with just 43 seconds left on the clock.

The Knights were not able to move the ball into Fireld Goal range on their final posession and the Londoners had regained the Championship they lost to the Knights in 2004.

Head Coach Steve Rains said "We know from the history of the games between us that the you have to win over 4 quarters when we meet. We came back to beat them in the regular season - they did it to us today. We are obviously very disappointed but I am sure for nuetral observers it was a great game to watch. We have demonstrated that we remain a competitive force in this league and we will aim to come back again next year to regain our Championship. Penalties hurt us today and that is annoying as it is something we were concious of coming into the game - Kingsley was outstanding and had we held on to win would have been the MVP, as it is - credit to Jermaine and the Olympians - today is their day"


Olympians: Franklin 9-21-126-0-0
Knights: Heath 5-13-123-1-1


Olympians: Allen 30-198-2. Boyle 1-38-1, Sobanjo 2-2, Franklin 9-14

Knights: Ejiogi 15-139, Wakeford 3-17, Attia 11-15-1, St Louis 2-(-2), Tomas 1-(-3), Heath 1-(-8)


Olympians: Palumbo 4-39, Price 2-42, Allen 2-34, Simms 1-11
Knights: Freeman 2-43, Belcher 1-43, Dunson 1-27, Gerring 1-10