Half-time blast pays off

PUBLISHED: 17:22 07 June 2002 | UPDATED: 12:04 03 March 2010

The Ipswich Cardinals continued their fine, all conquering start to the 2002 season with another emphatic win over the London Blitz. The 27 - 0 scoreline did not truly reflect the superiority of the Ipswich side, as they dismantled the Londoners at the Linford Christie Stadium in West London.

The Ipswich Cardinals continued their fine, all conquering start to the 2002 season with another emphatic win over the London Blitz. The 27 - 0 scoreline did not truly reflect the superiority of the Ipswich side, as they dismantled the Londoners at the Linford Christie Stadium in West London.

Sunday started early for the Cardinals, as they gathered at their home ground, Northgate Sports Centre, to watch England's soccer team in action against Sweden.

The team, sponsored by Maritime Cargo Processing discovered that there would be a number of key absentees on the day. Wide Receiver Ian Girling, and Tight End Matt Donaldson were struck down with illness, team talisman Cartez 'Taz' Hester and Wille Farrow were unavailable due to USAF manouevres, Andy Cowling was in hospital with his partner, while Gary Butcher, Chris Webb, and Matt Nicoll all had injuries which required rest.

So the team travelled somewhat light, but nonetheless in determined mood.

The coach arrived in West London with under an hour to spare, and barely enough time to kit up and warm up.

The match kicked off in bright warm, and somewhat muggy conditions. Both teams were unable to move the ball on their first possessions and the match continued in a scrappy fashion for some minutes.

The Cardinals began to exert pressure on the home offensive unit, and the first big play of the day was made by Ipswich's Marcus 'Muff' Woolf, who recovered a Blitz fumble. The Cardinals started the resulting drive in a good field position, but were unable to capitalise. Sandy Francis had a 35 yd field attempt, but was narrowly wide.

The Cardinal defense then decided to step up, and, led by the hugely talented Shaun Rapley, savaged the London offense with ferocious and intimidating tackling.

Encouraged, the Cardinal offense took to the field. Quaterback Marvin Jimmerson is rapidly emerging as one of the most talented and effective quarterbacks in the League, and he led his Ipswich team downfield using the three pronged running attack. Paul 'Babes' Borstel, the power back, Steve Coles the razor sharp speedster, and Stevie Stephens, darting and elusive, took turns to edge the Cardinals closer and closer to the end zone. It was left to Borstel to crash over the line from 5 yds out. Francis added the extra point, and the Cardinals led 7 - 0.

Unfortunately the rest of the first quarter, and the whole of the second saw Ipswich lapse into complacency. There was no further scoring in the half, although the Cardinals came close on several occasions.

At half time, Head Coach James Mitchell, Coach Mike Keith, and Team Capatin Stuart Brereton addressed the squad, and pulled no punches, in order to re-focus the Ipswich men on the job in hand. Mitchell altered the front line of the defense to include Paul Barclay, Justin Beard, and Christian Steward, along with Rapley, Woolf, and Francis. Small adjustments were made on the offensive make up.

The results were simply spectacular.

Immediately, Borstel, Coles and Stephens ran the Blitz defenders ragged, and Borstel proved too big, too strong and too quick to be stopped from close range, as he notched his second touchdown. Francis added the extra point.

From the Ipswich kick off, Steve 'Poodle' Wells' strategically placed kick allowed the Special Teams unit to sprint downfield and hammer the men in Blitz blue. They immediately turned the ball over to the Cardinal offense, and Jimmerson turned to Stephens, who darted over the line for touchdown number three.

Ipswich and Francis lined up for the extra point, but the ball arrived to holder Brereton at some height. Thinking quickly, the former Milton keynes star took off towards the end zone, and in a fabulous display of determination came within inches of the line for what would have been two points.

Moments later however, he got his reward. Jimmerson found him with a short pass and he bobbed, weaved, and dragged defenders on his way to the end zone. The snap was good, and Francis made no mistake with the extra point.

27 - 0 to the Cardinals.

With the game now effectively over as a contest, Coach Mitchell decided to give back up Quarterback Corey Whitman some playing time.

He also made changes to the offensive line, and the defensive personnel. Offensive Linemen Steve Pickett, Beard, and debutant Phil Kaufmann had good days following the fine example set by Woolf at centre. Defensively Luke Box displayed fine leadership qualities in the absence of Hester, and was ably assisted by Peter Moore and Gary Gonsalves.

At the final whistle, the Cardinals congratulated each other on yet another win, and a job well done.

Four games and four wins means that they continue to sit proudly at the top of the BSL Division One - the 'premier league' of American Football in Britain.

The unexpected success of the Ipswich side mean that they attracting attention from some of the 'big boys' of the sport in Britain, and teams that they are yet to play. Some cracking fixtures are in prospect later in the season.

The next Cardinal home game is on Sunday 16th June 2002 against the Bristol Aztecs at Northgate Sports Centre. Kick off is at 2.30 pm.

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