Eagles bounce back with a bang

14 Jun

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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Nate Ashby on the 2015 season and life with the Eagles

09 Oct

Earlier this week we caught up with Offensive Captain Nathaniel Ashby to hear his thoughts on the 2015 season ahead of this Sunday’s Rookie Session in St Neots.

After several seasons playing for the Cambridgeshire Cats you transferred to the Eagles last year. What was it that brought you to the club?
I played for the Cats for 12 years from the age of 18, but the club really changed a lot over the last five years or so in many different ways, so I felt it was just my time to move on.

Luckily for me the Eagles were newly-formed and had a number of coaches and players I knew and respected, so it was the obvious choice for me to spend the next phase of my career.

The Eagles’ first game of last season was away to your old club. That must have been a strange experience, did you have any mixed feelings heading into the game?
Wow yes it was very, very strange standing on the away sideline at Coldhams common after having played so many games for Cats, and the idea of beating the team that I called home for 12 years was hard not to think too much about.

Nate AshbyHow did it feel to be named one of the team captains for this season?
Being named a team Captain was great for me. I feel I really earned my stripes on this team due to my attendance all through pre-season and always trying to lead by example as a veteran player.

For that to be recognised amongst a lot of top players was a real honour.

What do you think makes you a good captain?
I think the fact that I have been playing for nearly eighteen years now has given me a lot of experience that I can pass on to others.

I also always try to lead by example in everything I do from turning up on time, to giving full effort every play and also still trying being as coachable as possible by listening to the coaches and not ever thinking I know it all.

As well as a playing captain you were also voted on to the committee this year as Player’s Rep. How did that come about?
Being voted onto the committee came about purely by putting myself forward at the AGM, where I got to stand up and sell myself as a potential committee member to the team.

The fact that I had been on the committee for a number of years at the Cats probably played in my favour, but I also think that I had proven my dedication to the team and the club overall during my time as an Eagle, so everyone at the AGM knew me and what I am about.

How was last season for you?
The season was been terrific for me personally as I made the switch from CB to WR (a decision I made during the off season) after it became apparent that we would be losing a number of veteran WRs from last year’s team due to retirement or other circumstances.

I have played both sides of the ball my whole 20-year career and I saw a team need on the offence coming into this season so moved over.

This has been really interesting for me having to relearn the WR position and an offensive system I have never seen anything like before so it’s kept me challenged which in turn has kept me interested and constantly developing as a player.

What do you most enjoy about playing for the Eagles?
The things I enjoy most about playing for the Eagles are the quality coaching and not just quality, but also the constant challenge you receive from the coaches who like me are never happy to settle for anything less than your best.

I also love how well organised the club is.

But the biggest factor that I love the most is the camaraderie amongst the players as everyone has made me feel really welcome and valued ever since I got here and you can really see that when we play.

We play for each other as a team and there is no individual “super star” players.

What are your aims for next year?
My aims for year ahead are to firstly take the opportunity in the off season to heal and rest up. This past season has been long and tough as I played most games in multiple positions starting on O, D and special teams throughout the year.

I am however back in pre season training mode where I lift weights and run 3-4 times a week to help gradually prepare me for hitting pre season training hard in without it being too big a shock to the system!

My aims as a player are to focus on playing Defence again in particular corner back and help to team to take that next step through the play-offs and make the finals next season.

I’m also the Player’s Rep on the committee, so I would look to maintain that role and help the committee to continue to develop the club into a stable, successful and ever improving organisation.

The second rookie session of the month takes place at Priory Park in St Neots this Sunday (11th October) between 11am and 1pm.

All you need to bring with you is football/rugby boots, some water, appropriate clothing to be out running in the weather and a valid form of photo ID.

Click here for further information, or please visit the relevant Event Page on Facebook:

Session 2 – St Neots – 11th October
Session 3 – Luton – 18th October
Session 4 – Milton Keynes – 25th October