The Eagles dropped to 3-3 for the season following a disappointing 14-0 defeat at home to Sandwell Steelers on Sunday at Bedford International Athletic Stadium.
The Steelers returned the opening kick-off to their 29-yard line but were forced to punt on their opening possession, Zach Wodaege and the Eagles offense taking over possession on the 45.
Quick passes completed to Ross Hubbard and Cody Hausenbuiller gave the hosts a first down but possession was turned over just two plays later thanks to an interception by the Sandwell secondary.
A big run through the middle took Sandwell to the edge of the red zone, and more good running gave them first and goal, on the five, where another run opened the scoring. The extra point attempt was successful, and gave the visitors a 7-0 lead.
Byron Chowles’ impressive kick-off return again gave the Eagles good starting field position, and this time around they looked more likely to capitalise.
They drove the ball into the Sandwell red zone and up to the 15-yard line and went for it on fourth and four, but the Steeler defensive line held strong to force a turnover on downs on their own 7-yard line.
Sandwell’s next possession got off to a shaky start as a result of a fumble which they managed to recover on their own 4-yard line, but as the first quarter ended had been able to drive the ball to around halfway.
Their impressive drive continued with a combination of short passes and strong running, and after converting a 4th and 3 on the five-yard line had a first and goal on the Eagles 2.
Excellent defensive play lead by defensive tackle Andy Larwill soon turned first and goal at the 2 to third and goal at the 15, and when a Steelers pass was incomplete on 4th and goal the Eagles took over on downs on their own 5.
Running Back Jamahl Watson broke a run through to the 37 but the drive stalled, and a muffed fake punt handed the Steelers the ball back on the Eagles 38-yard line.
Sandwell’s drive progressed as far as the 22 before going for it on 4th down and coming up short, but they had the ball back just a couple of plays later when Eagles QB Zach Wodaege was adjudged to have fumbled the ball.
They were unable to capitalise however, and had a field goal attempt blocked shortly before the end of the half.
HALF-TIME: EAGLES 0 STEELERS 7
The Eagles received the ball to start the second half and started on their own 27-yard line following a holding penalty, and thought they were back in the game early on.
Wodaege’s bomb was spectacularly caught by Alex Smith who duly took the ball to the house, only to see the score chalked off for a penalty against the offensive line.
It was a body blow for an offense struggling to get a toehold on the game, who were then forced to punt.
Sandwell were unable to capitalise on their next possession but backed the Eagles up inside their 5-yard line thanks to a booming punt.
Wodaege’s pass was picked off by the Sandwell secondary to give them the ball back on the 14, and further strong running resulted in the second and final score of the game.
Both sides exchanged possessions in the fourth quarter, and although the Eagles defence forced fumbles via Julian Ikeme and Andy Larwill the game finished 14-0 to the visitors.
The Eagles are back in BAFANL action on Sunday 5th June at home to Birmingham Bulls.
Kick-off is midday at BIAS, with admission priced at £2 each for adults (for which you receive a free programme) or free for those under-18.
Pictures courtesy of Steve Guy.
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