25th June 2006

BAFL Division One

The Knights undefeated record for the 2006 BAFL season came to an end on Sunday when the visiting Sundevils recorded their first victory over the Aldershot based team for 5 years.

The Division 1 Southern Conference is highly competitive and has produced some excellent hard fought games already this season - Sundays match up at Aldershot Park was no exception.

The Sundevils made an early statement as they punched home their opening drive with a run from 6yds out after fine work from import American QB Despotakis had brought them into scoring range. Former Knight Jon Wyse kicked the extra point and the visitors led 0-7

The Knights offense started strongly and fine running from Kingsley Ejiogu saw them move down the field and in to scoring range. The Sundevil defense however dug in and the Knights were forced to punt the ball away after losing ground.

The Sundevils again drove confidently - mixing running and passing. This time QB Despotakis hit an open Jon Wyse from 28yds out to extend the visitors lead and with Wyse adding the conversion the Knights trailed 0-14 as the first quarter ended.

The Sundevils were by now bouyant and playing well, the Knights were somewhat stunned and nothing seemed to work for them in the second quarter. Takinf full advantage of the situation the visitors scored twice more on an 8 yard run and a 42 yard pass again to that man Wyse with the last play of the half. Wyse added both extra points and the visitors led 0-28.

The Knights first possesion of the second half showed more promise as Ejiogu started to find some running room but the home team were forced to punt and Despotakis hit straight back with a 55yard pass to his twin brother to extend the visitors lead to 0-35 and present the Knights with the real prospect of being trounced on their home field.

Anybody who has watched the Knights over the past 6 years however would know that their spirit as a team is not easily vanquished and that this malaise would end was never in doubt. With adjustments from the Knights coaching staff and renewed determination from the players they hit back befor the end of the third quarter. Strong running from Ejiogu behind Full Back Stewart Clackson and the Offensive Line got the drive underway. QB Ashley Heath then hit young receiver Chris Reynolds over the middle - the Knights Youth product making a tremendous diving catch to put the Knights in scoring range. League MVP Kingsley Ejiogu finished the drive with a 10yard scoring run. Steve Belchers extra point attempt however clipped the upright and the score stood at 6-35 as the quarter ended.

If the Knights charged an admission fee - the 4th quarter that was about to begin would have been worth every penny in itself. A 35 point feast of Offensive and a thrilling finish made it worthwhile that everyone present had sacrificed watching Englands World Cup game to be there to see it.

The Knights Defense made its first quick stop on the potent Southern Offense and the home team went straight back to work. Runs from Ejiogu were supported by receptions from Rodney Edgerton and Stewart Clackson. It was Ejiogu again who finished the drive with a 12yard scoring burst. Moses Tomas ran in a 2 point conversion and the Knights trailed 14-35.

The Sundevils were clearly aware that the game was far from over and they mounted a final scoring drive, one that would eventually prove to be crucial. Pass receptions by Jon Wyse from Despotakis were enough to put them in range and Wyse then moved to the backfield to take the hand off and run 2 yards into the endzone for the score. If only the famous DIY store Do-It-All was still a live brand Wyse would have a guaranteed sponsor as he popped up and slotted his 24th point of the afternoon for a 14-42 Sundevil lead.

The Knights were however down - but not out.

With Ejiogu out of the backfield Moses Tomas took over the running duties. his brusing style battered the way to two first downs and then Heath hit Edgerton to put the Knights in range. QB Heath found WR Chris Reynolds open in the endzone after great protection from his Oline to reduce the Sundevil lead. The 2 point conversion attempt failed and the Knights trailed 20-42.

The Knights tried to get the ball straight back with an onside kick - but the Sundevils recovered it - once again it was Wyse who made the crucial play. The Knights defense however led by Tim Siewert and Liam Smith brought the sundevil drive to a rapid stop. Wyse punted the ball away and a good return from Rodney Edgerton set the Knights up for another scoring drive.

Powerful running by and a 43yard pass from Moses Tomas to WR Tony Talbot set the Knights up on the Sundevil 3yd line and from there Tomas ran through one would be tackler to score on the next play. He also carried the ball on the 2 point conversion try that was successful and the score stood at 28-42 with 3 minutes remaining.

The Knights lined up in an onside kick formation - drawing the Sundevils in close - Steve Belcher then boomed the ball to the Sundevil 5 yard line where it was fumbledand downed by the returner. Using their timeouts and the 2 minute warning the Knights stopped the visitors in their tracks while preserving precious time. The Sundevils punted.

Tony Talbot carried the ball 13 yards on the first play of the Knights drive and then Moses Tomas added a further 12yard on the ground. QB Heath then found Talbot over the middle for a 20yard gain to the Sundevil 3 yard line. With time running out however it took three plays for the Knights to score - a pass from QB Heath to WR Rodney Edgerton - against a weary but determined Sundevil Defense. The extra point attempt failed and the Knights had pulled to within one score at 34-42.

Sadly for the home fans the final drive used all of what little time was remaining and the Knights had to accept defeat to their local rivals.

Head Coach Steve Rains said "Full credit to the Sundevils and Coach Jim Roberson. They were due to win one against us at some point and the competitiveness of the league this year does not make this a big shock - it is of course disappointing for us- however I believe the parity between teams in the Conference is good for the sport and ultimately these are the sort of games people want to see. We must now buckle down to our preparation for the two London teams - its a fascinating season - the next 4 games could see us repeat as Southern Conference champions for the 3rd year or fight a relegation battle - either way at the moment its still in our hands"

Asst Head Coach Ian Ellis added "We win or lose as a team. We must all shoulder responsibility for getting into a hole that ultimately was just too big to escape from - however credit to the whole group for a fantastic and thrilling comeback. Our task now is to ensure that we pick up where we left off and that the first two and a half quarters were a "not to be repeated" blip in our season"

The Knights have two weeks of training and preparation before they face their next opponents - the current British National Champion London Olympians - at home on Sunday the 16th July in Aldershot Park KO at 4-00pm.

K Ejiogu 30 for 162yds 2TD
M Tomas 12 for 72yds 1TD
T Talbot 1 for 13yds
A Heath 1 for -4yds