O's maintain six-year record

AMERICAN FOOTBALL: Ipswich Cardinals 7 London O's 28. The London Olympians came to Ipswich intent on maintaining their six-year unbeaten record in domestic competition.

AMERICAN FOOTBALL

Ipswich Cardinals 7 London O's 28

The London Olympians came to Ipswich intent on maintaining their six-year unbeaten record in domestic competition.

They left with that record still intact but with a new found respect for the country boys of Suffolk, as the Cardinals pushed them with all they'd got.


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O's General Manager Steve McAlpine was full of admiration for the Maritime Cargo Processing backed Cardinals, and said afterwards: " They have a great set up here, nice facilities, good management, good coaching and a team that wants to play. All they need is a few more athletes and they can give anyone in the BSL a game."

Right from the opening kick off Ipswich were up against it but it was the spirit and heart they displayed that kept them in it and helped provide a wonderful spectacle and great advert for British gridiron.

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O's kicker Andy Boyle had the only scoring opportunity of a chess game like first quarter. His field goal attempt from close range was tipped as it rocketed upward and missed to the left.

While the Ipswich offense struggled to gain a foothold against the superbly-drilled London defense, the Cardinals own defenders were causing concern for the O's coaches as they doggedly battled away, ferociously denying the powerful armoury of weapons at quarterback Junior Price's disposal.

The deadlock was finally broken midway through the second quarter though, when a mismatch of personnel allowed wide receiver Kevin Henderson to get open and hold on to a 28 yard Price pass for the opening touchdown. Boyle kicked the extra point through for a 7-0 lead.

Still smarting from that lapse, the Cardinal defenders were guilty of over eagerness just moments later when they allowed the speedy O's running back Roland Williams an inch too much room.

He burst through three tacklers arms and sprinted 72 yards for a spectacular score. Boyle again converted for a 14-0 lead.

Fully aware that already this season the Olympians had chalked up 54-0 and 69-0 wins against decent teams, the Ipswich players realised this game was a real war and, if any chance to reverse that scoreline were to be achieved, the squad would have to dig deeper.

The third quarter saw the Ipswich offense begin to make headway and several drives showed promise without creating scoring opportunities. The mistakes and lapses in concentration that had haunted the previous two losses vanished and the event became truly entertaining.

O's coach Riq Ayub introduced runner Warren Keen into the game and he immediately made his presence felt. Behind the blocking of the huge offensive line, Keen showed his quality by darting into spaces and added his name to the scoresheet when he mazed his way into the endzone from 17 yards. Again, Boyle converted to increase the lead to 21-0.

The hosts showed real heart by hitting back at the champs with all they possessed. Consecutive first downs were achieved by runners Steve Coles and Stevie Stephens, while quarterback Marvin Jimerson found receiver Ian Girling to keep the drive alive.

One more running play and then came the play of the day as Jimerson passed to Stu Brereton. Having made the catch toward the right hand sideline, the diminutive multi-role athlete turned back, against the grain, and squirted through several defenders before picking up some great downfield blocking to sprint up the middle of the field to register a 52 yard touchdown.

The delighted crowd were euphoric and were still cheering as kicker Stephen Wells added the extra point, reducing the O's lead to 21-7.

The balls became soaplike as the officials struggled to keep them dry and nobody could blame newly-wed Ipswich centre Marcus Woolf when his long punt snap skidded out of his hands and along the ground, giving Matt Donaldson little choice other than to fall on the ball.

Unfortunately, that gave the visitors excellent field position and they gratefully accepted that gift by capitalising via another Keen dash for six. Boyle added the final point of the game.

Despite the loss, this game could prove a turning point for the Cardinals as the bad elements that scarred the recent losses have been exorcised and a new sense of pride and belief borne out of defeat may just be enough to see the play-off bound Suffolk men on to greater things.

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