Cardinals too strong for Londoners

PUBLISHED: 13:25 23 May 2002 | UPDATED: 11:58 03 March 2010

AMERICAN FOOTBALL: Ipswich Cardinals continued their amazing start to life in Britain's top tier of American football.

The Maritime Cargo Processing backed side recorded their third win in as many games by overpowering the up and coming London Blitz by a convincing margin.

Ipswich Cardinals continued their amazing start to life in Britain's top tier of American football.

The Maritime Cargo Processing backed side recorded their third win in as many games by overpowering the up and coming London Blitz by a convincing margin.

An excellent crowd at Northgate Stadium were treated to the Cardinals first "shutout" of an opponent as, once again, the Ipswich defense dominated while steady improvement from the offense created four touchdowns.

After a nervous start from both sides, the big boys of the Cardinals offensive line began gaining control of the line of scrimmage.

Veterans like Marcus Woolf, Steve Picket and Nick Smith alongside new team members this season, Willie Farrow, Abimbola Adex and the rookie, Justin Beard, playing in his first ever game, rolled up their sleeves and began shoving their weight around to excellent effect.

The first beneficiary was running back Stevie Stephens, who opened the scoring with a now trademark long distance thrust after rushing through a huge hole on the left side.

Kicker Sandy Francis dissected the uprights with his first extra point attempt of the day and the hosts led 7-0.

From the outset it appeared the Blitz's offense would struggle against the hungry Cardinal defenders as their ball carriers were blasted from all angles, their limiting style of alignment proving pretty hopeless, despite the perfect sunny conditions.

The ferocious talents of defensive tackle Shaun Rapley and linebacker Cartez Hester combined to force a fumble that was snapped up by cornerback Matt Nicol in excellent field position.

Still in the opening quarter, Stuart Brereton capped the resulting short drive with a three yard run and with Francis again successful, the Cardinals had shot out to an impressive 14-0 advantage.

Before the game head coach James Mitchell had stressed the need to capitalise on the opportunities given to the offense.

In previous games too many scoring chances had gone begging because of poor execution or lapses in concentration close to the opposition endzone.

While that wasn't nearly as evident this week, the offense still came out wanting as a long pass from quarterback Marvin Jimerson to tight end Matt Donaldson was just tipped away at the last second and Francis missed a field goal (worth three points ) in the second quarter.

Another intended pass play from the Cardinals shortly after resulted in a mesmerising touchdown from Jimerson. Unable to see any downfield receivers, the big Texan set off on a mazy run, utilising all the downfield blocking ahead of him to register a spectacular 60 yard score!

That really got the crowd on their feet and it began to look like the visitors from the capital were in for a long afternoon!

Returning from injury, Francis' "rusty" leg began to show signs of fatigue as he missed the simple conversion. With the defense totally in control by now, allowing just a solitary first down in the half, coach Mitchell decided to give new signing Cory Whitman an opportunity to come into the reckoning as he replaced Jimerson at quarterback until half time.

At the interval, coach Mitchell and his assistants Mike Keith and Lee Brewer stressed the need to up the workrate to really seal victory.

Consecutive first downs by the Blitz offense proved the rest at half time was still going on out on the field! It wasn't long before the Ipswich defense woke up and reasserted their authority, however, and when Nicol hauled in an 18 yard pass from Jimerson on the next offensive drive for the teams fourth touchdown, normal service was resumed.

Going into the final quarter the Cardinal defenders merely toyed with the weary Blitz attack while the sparingly-used Ipswich runner Paul Borstel showed his fresh legs late on by pounding out some huge gains over a tiring defensive group.

At the final whistle the cheers rang out as the Cardinals unbeaten run continues and, while still not playing to their full potential, the first three games are giving hope to a very successful campaign for the new boys in the top division.

The squad will now enjoy a week's rest and one practice this coming weekend before the return game at Fulham the following Sunday.

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