Pythons WIN vs LSBU Spartans

The second week of BAFA University action saw two teams take the field on a beautiful football day for the first time in their respective season. With a bye week during week 1 for Cambridge due to starting later than most other universities, and a cancellation of the game against Herts for LSBU, this game would be a great test to see how each team preseason have gone.

The rosters of both teams were small but filled with talent, with significant senior league experience from the Spartans in some key positions, and a small but valuable American contingent in the Cambridge roster. The game was played at the Westminster Dragons home ground in Chiswick, London. An 80 yard pitch gave the game a feeling of being tighter on the field, and having the posts 5 yards further back than the end zones was a rather perplexing situation.

As it was remembrance Sunday both teams observed two minutes of silence to reflect on those that had died to maintain our freedom. The coin toss was won by Cambridge who chose to defer, Spartans received and the match got underway.

The first series saw a three and out forced by Cambridge with losses on each of the three plays, culminating in a punt, in which the snap was fumbled. Cambridge then put together an impressive running drive which culminated in a run in touchdown for Pythons newcomer Connor Rooney. The 2pt conversion was unsuccessful.

The reminder of the quarter saw defensive slogging, with Cambridge unable to make any yardage with the pass game. On a Cambridge punt inside their own 30, Spartans #33 Daniel Gyimah burst through the line for the block, unable to pick it up for the score the ball was downed on the 1yd line, giving the Spartans great field position for score. On the next play running back #30 Aaron Price ran in the 1yd touchdown, the extra point attempt was blocked by Cambridge #34 James Disley.

Again the rest of the half was dominated by defence; the Spartans sent major pressure blitzing both A gaps on a large number of plays, and the Cambridge front 4 were consistently in the backfield. A long bomb down field from Spartans QB #9 Timothee Liechti to #80 Oliver Howard who was tackled inside the 5 was called back for illegal downfield on one of the Spartans OL.

Half time saw the score at 6-6 with it being anyone’s game for the taking.

Again the defences went to work forcing 3 and outs. In a drive starting from inside the Pythons own 30, the Spartans somewhat imploded in terms of penalties giving away 31 yards on a single drive to put the Pythons comfortably inside the 5. Rooney again stepped up to the plate and got the second Pythons score of the day. The 2pt failed.

After this drive LSBU answered with a fantastic run by Aaron Price of 31 yards and 5 broken tackles. Their extra point attempt also failed.

The resulting Cambridge drive, bringing the game into the 4th quarter saw a touchdown brought back for holding, and Cambridge knocking on the door; however the Spartans force the turnover on downs. Defensive Tackle Eric Chapman and Defensive End Ed Cozens got a sack on Spartans #9 for a six yard loss, which led the drive to a 3 and out for the Spartans, with the 4th down punt being fumbled saw the Pythons take over inside the 20.

Spartans #12 Lanre Ajumobi dropped Pythons QB Joe Yarwood for a 6 yard loss, and the Pythons decided to go for it on 4th down, where QB threw an interception to Spartans #44 James Tetteh who was tackled inside the 10 on a play where it was probably more advisable to bat the ball down rather than intercept.

The next drive saw the first pitch play go over the head of #30 Aaron Price who tried to recover it in the end zone, but was tackled for the safety. The Spartans kicked off punt style to the Pythons who were now inside the 2 minute warning and had to run out the clock. After a holding penalty brought the drive back to a 1st and 20, the Pythons ended up on a 4th and 1 with 30 seconds left, not wanting to risk a blocked or returned punt the Pythons turned to Rooney again who got 5 yards and the first down to give the Pythons their first win of the year.

Coach Julian Fuller named his MVPs as:

Conner Rooney – Offensive MVP

Shawn O’Donnell – Defensive MVP