The Eagles bounced back from last weekend’s close defeat in the best way possible with a convincing 40-19 victory away to the Nottingham Caesars at Harvey Hadden Stadium on Sunday.
Nottingham returned the opening kick-off to their 30-yard line but a holding penalty backed them up, and when Mikey Davies intercepted the ball on second and 15 the Eagles had possession in excellent field position.
A pass completed to Kevin Vasquez gave the Eagles first and goal on the 5-yard line and Richard Thompson powered over the line to open the scoring, Ross Hubbard successfully converting the PAT.
On the Caesars’ next possession they drove the ball to the Eagles 33-yard line, but after deciding to go for it on 4th and 3 were again picked off, this time by Byron Chowles.
Neither side could do anything of note on their next possessions, but the Caesars’ Kieran Matthews recovered a muffed punt return by Eagles Special Teams unit to get the ball back on the Eagles 24-yard line.
They went four and out to give the ball back to the Eagles, who in turn went three and out as the first quarter came to a close.
Both sides continued to trade possessions at the start of the second quarter before the visitors managed to get a toehold in the game.
Strong running and successful short passes took the Eagles to first and goal on the two-yard line, and although the Caesars defence initially held firm they were undone on third and goal after Zach Wodaege’s pass intended for Hubbard was tipped into the grateful hands of Alex “my name isn’t Cross” Smith.
The PAT attempt was blocked but the Eagles lead 13-0.
On their next possession the Caesars were picked off by Nate Ashby, but after the Eagles went three and out got the ball back on their own six after a muffed punt return.
A few players later the deficit was reduced following an eighty-yard pass play. The Caesars QB connected with his receiver across the middle, who burst through the Eagles secondary.
The Eagles started again on the 30-yard line following the punt return, and a short run and pass completed to Hubbard took them to around halfway as we reached the two-minute warning.
Wodaege’s long pass to Smith later and the Eagles had another TD and a lead of 19-6 following the blocked PAT attempt.
After the kick off the Caesars had the ball on their own 26-yard line, and after moving to the 42 thought they had scored only to see another massive pass play called back for a flag.
Ross Cousins sacked the Caesars QB on the very next play, and after being forced to punt on fourth down the Eagles had the ball back on their own 20 with 27 seconds left to play in the half.
Two impressive runs by Richard Thompson took the ball to the halfway line with eleven seconds to play as the Eagles took their third and final timeout of the half.
Wodaege connected with another bomb to Smith which took the ball all the way to the three-yard line, and although time expired as the Eagles tried to spike it, a defensive penalty meant there was an opportunity for one more un-timed play.
It was an opportunity the Eagles offense wasn’t going to waste, and when Wodaege again found Smith in the end zone the lead was further extended to end the half.
Half-Time: Caesars 6 Eagles 25
The second half started as positively for the Eagles as the first had ended.
Excellent blocking by the offensive line and determined running by Thompson – assisted by two face cage penalties against the Nottingham defence – put the Eagles back within striking distance, and it was Thompson who finished the drive by powering across the line.
Wodaege found Hubbard in the back of the end zone with the two-point attempt, and the Eagles had extended their lead again, this time to 33-6.
Both sides traded possession for most of the third quarter before the game sprung to life thanks to another Mikey Davies interception.
Wodaege threw a pick of his own to give possession back to the Caesars, and this time they were able to capitalise and cut the lead to 33-12 after an unsuccessful two-point attempt.
The third quarter ended with the Eagles driving but after going for it on fourth and long on the 30 the Caesars regained possession – only to quickly lose it again thanks to yet another interception by Mikey Davies.
Four plays later Wodaege found Smith again for his fourth touchdown of the day, with Hubbard’s PAT taking the score to 40-12.
The Caesars weren’t finished yet though. They returned the kick-off all the way for a touchdown and the PAT brought them back to within three scores, but once the Eagles successfully recovered their onside kick attempt any remote possibility of a comeback was extinguished.
The Eagles were able to comfortably see out the rest of the game and seal an excellent victory to move to 4-4 for the season with two games left to play.
Picture courtesy of Steve Guy.
In case you missed it, the game was broadcasted in full by our friends at CaesarsTV, and you can check it out in full here:
The Eagles are next in BAFANL action on Sunday 17th July against the Doncaster Mustangs at Bedford International Athletics Stadium.
Kick-off is midday, with admission £2 each for adults (for which you receive a free programme) or free for under-18s.
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