In a coming of age performance, the Ouse Valley Eagles ran all over the Essex Spartans, finishing 55-8 victors. Indeed ‘finishing’ was a key theme of the day, with almost every possession in the Red-Zone finishing in points.
The Eagles had set out their stake before the game to establish a running game that could carry the team through the rest of the season and into the playoffs, and after a the Eagles defense pushed the Spartans O to a quick 3 and out, the Eagles Offense did so with emphatic precision.
On the 2nd play from scrimmage, Running Back Yomi Okuboyejo broke free down the sideline for a huge 60 yard gain, taking the Eagles on their first trip into the Redzone. Finishing was something that had been emphasised throughout their 4 week hiatus from competitive games and the Eagles took that board, with starting QB Enrique Alonso finding receiver Dale Hawes in the end zone for the 6 points. Hawes then added the extra point to take his tally to 7 for the day.
The Eagles vaunted defense was living up to its name, and setting the tone for the rest of day, continually forced the Spartans to 3 and out drives, however some early offside penalties didn’t help their cause, the Spartans never really got anything going offensively after those freebies.
In what was to be a 3 touchdown performance from Okuboyejo, #31 got the offense going again, with some solid running behind a strong Eagles Offensive Line. It was just another few plays before Okuboyejo was seen striding into the end zone again, this time from 20 yards out, with Hawes again adding the extra point.
At 14-0, in the first half, the Eagles from earlier in the season would have taken their foot off the gas, but there was none of that today, as a further two scores from Okuboyejo took the score to 26-0 at the half.
Despite some changes in the Eagles personnel, the running game didn’t slow down, with Kalaba ‘Kase’ Chibwe bursting through the middle of the Spartans D and taking it to the house from over 50 yards out, with the 2 point conversion good, the score stood at 34-0 early in third quarter.
That finished the scoring in the 3rd quarter as the Spartans D began to shut down the Eagles Offense with some punishing run blitzes. The Eagles Defense was always on top here, despite never really getting into top gear, and keeping the shutout was critical to the Eagles playoffs hopes.
In the 4th quarter the Eagles rushing attack sprung back to life, with Fred Shifflet flying down the sideline for the 41 yard score. Hawes again added the extra point, taking the score line to 41-0. On the ensuing kickoff, the Spartans burst into life against an Eagles unit that sorely needed some practice time together, and ultimately that cost them, with the Spartans deservedly taking the ball back 70 yards for the 6 points, on an electric kick return. They added the 2 point conversion, making the score to 41-8.
With the two minute having just gone, many could been excused for leaving early, or turning their backs on the game thinking it was done, however that was not the case. In what was a thrilling end to the game, the Eagles rose up and really finished the game off, with a quick score from backup QB Martin Day to WR Tyre Jones from 18 yards making the score 48-8. Again, the Eagles were not finished, with some punishing tackling from Darren Gregory, the defense forced the turnover, giving the ball back to offense on the 34 yard line, with less than 20 seconds on the clock. It took one play, with Day finding Jones wide open in the end zone for the 6 points. Hawes added the PAT and the score was finished at 55-8.
It was an impressive performance by the Eagles, and with another week off to prepare for back to back against the Ipswich Cardinals they will be looking for this form to take them through to 6-2.
An ecstatic Neale McMaster said after the game “I’m absolutely delighted we managed to break that 50 point mark. From an offensive standpoint that was our target on the day. That’s no disrespect to the Spartans, they’re a decent outfit and you don’t win 3 games in this division without knowing how to play the game; however I was confident in our abilities coming off our best week of practice offensively.”
“Whilst Yomi game the MVP for the Offense, a huge shout out has to go to our Offensive Line and Full Backs, those guys were supreme today, and really set the tone up front.”
When asked why it had taken so long for the offense to get going this season, McMaster replied “It’s one of those things that comes with implementing a new system, and especially with the merger happening, there are a lot of personalities and everything just takes a while to bed in. We’ve been preaching patience from the start, and the players who are here have bought into the system we run, and that patience has started to give dividends. I’m hopeful we’ll be able to take this form and this confidence into the back to back series with Ipswich, that’ll make or break our season.”
Head Coach Will White echoed those sentiments, saying “We had been practicing hard during our off weeks to correct a few things we found wrong and it all came good on Sunday with our best performance to date. Neale McMaster my OC & our offense did an outstanding job of capitalizing on everything the Essex defense gave us to the tune of at least 400+ yards and 55 points, whilst the defense carried on doing a great job adding another 6 turnovers to an already huge takeaway total.”
All photos of the game have been published on our gallery. All the photos are courtesy of Mikey Cartwright at Ponderosa Pics.
The Eagles next game is away to the Ipswich Cardinals on the 29th June. Details of that game can be found on the website and social media sites. Our next and final regular season home game takes place on the 20th July against the Cardinals, with that game kicking off at 12pm at BIAS.