Cambridge Bests UEA in Piachaud’s Grand Finale

CUPAFC – Post – Match Summary, Sunday, February 16, 2014 vs. UEA – at the Coldham’s Common, Cambridge.

Leadership is fundamentally about beginning something that doesn’t end with you.  Every great organisation and social movement has at its inception a visionary whose faith in the cause and commitment are the driving forces behind making the dream a reality.  For the Cambridge Pythons American football team, that visionary is recent PhD graduate Thomas Piachaud who revived the team after an almost 15 year hiatus and has served as the president and captain for most of his time.  In addition to taking on the lion’s share of the crucial administrative and fundraising work, Piachaud has also been an exceptional athlete, being named a BUAFL first-team all-star last year and earning an Extraordinary Full Blue for his participation on the GB squad this past summer.

On Sunday, Piachaud played his last game for Cambridge as the Pythons hosted their division rivals the UEA Pirates in a contest that would determine who would secure a National Championship playoff berth with both teams coming in with 4-1 records.

Cambridge won the coin toss and received the kickoff.  They drove the ball steadily to the UEA 23 yard-line, but were eventually stalled and turned the ball over on downs.

UEA’s offense took the field led by their power running back.  As they have done all season, the Pythons’ run defense led by captain Tom Big Ginger Carr showed its steel and quickly forced UEA to punt the ball away.

Cambridge took over on the UEA 49 and on the fourth play of the drive, Sidney student Joe Moore burst around the Pirates’ linebackers for a 36-yard touchdown.  Jonty Richardson ran in the two point conversion putting Cambridge up 8-0.

The Pythons stuffed three successive UEA run attempts, causing them to go three-and-out and punt the ball away as the first quarter came to a close.

The next frame opened with a Cambridge interception.  UEA immediately jumped on the opportunity and orchestrated a pair of runs and a 13-yard pass for a touchdown.  A failed two point conversion attempt set the score at 8-6 Pythons.

Rising to the challenge, Cambridge launched a counter-attack of their own with excellent runs led by Brad Idk, Alex SJ, and Jonty Richardson, and a nice catch by Joe Moore.  They sealed the drive with a four-yard touchdown run by Alex SJ.  SJ also scored the two-point conversion as well, putting the Pythons ahead 16-6.

On the ensuing kickoff, rookies Jake Kicker and Brendan Loftus tag teamed the normal Norfolk receiver, forcing a fumble, which Loftus recovered on the UEA 39.

Cambridge again marched the ball downfield with authority and outstanding running.  After two members of the Holy Trinity of Offence, captain Joe Yarwood and Canadian wide receiver Jaason Geerts, connected for a dazzling pass completion, the Pythons were stunted just shy of a score, turning the ball over on the UEA 6 yard-line.

Cambridge again deprived UEA of a first down and they were forced to punt.

More trouble in the air for Cambridge as they were picked off again, a favour which was returned by Pythons’ linebacker Guy Peters with an interception of his own.  This play closed out the half with the score remaining 16-6.

Cambridge knew that UEA would be playing for their lives in the second half, but were not about to allow their opponents to challenge the lead.  The Pythons received the kickoff on their own 44 yard-line and led by their dominant offensive line, muscled their way downfield with a dozen consecutive runs.  This culminated with a one-yard score by Alex Special SJ that advanced Cambridge to 22-6.  The two point conversion was no good.

UEA tried vehemently to mustre a comeback, but their ensuing drive was marred by a facemask penalty, a fumble (which they recovered), and a couple of incomplete passes and they were forced to punt.

The Pythons rallied another lengthy drive, which ended at the UEA 27 yard-line, but sheared some important time off the clock and with that the third quarter expired.

UEA again tried to recover, but the Pythons were too simply strong, forcing a fumble, which was recovered by rookie Sam Alderson on the UEA 39.

At this point in the game, the third member of the Holy Trinity of Offense, Jonty Richardson, stepped up his game and proved nearly unstoppable as he ran around, over, and through countless UEA defenders.  A half dozen superhuman Richardson carries ploughed the Pythons further into Pirate territory and chewed more time off the clock.  Two incomplete passes and Cambridge turned the ball over, but UEA was no more successful, going three-and-out.

The Cambridge running assault again battered its way through the enemy protection and all the way to the UEA 26 yard-line.  The Pirates blocked Kicker’s 26-yard field goal attempt, but Yarwood fielded the fluttering ball and got a first down on the play.

Having controlled the clock, Cambridge watched as an uneventful drive on each side brought the game to an anti-climactic conclusion … exactly in line with the Pythons’ strategy.

The Cambridge captain turned the pre-game speech over to the heart of the Pythons, Tom Piachaud.  Piachaud reminded everyone that although he got the ball rolling and that the coaches, committee, and captains do a lot to keep the team thriving, it’s up to each individual player to sustain the Pythons in his absence.

Excellent performances were had by offensive MVP Jonty Richardson with 26 carries, 188 yards, and a touchdown on the day, Joe Moore with 18 carries for 150 yards and a TD, Alex SJ with 2 TD’s, defensive MVP Tom Carr, special teams MVP Brendan Loftus, and rookie MVP Sam Alderson.

A win next week against Canterbury will secure Cambridge a playoff berth for the National Championship alongside the other top 15 teams in the country.

After the game, rookie and 5-time MVP Joe Moore wrote, “I just want to say I love this team, by far the best decision I’ve made since coming here … Big things lie ahead for us and I feel proud to be part of it and pull on that jersey each week.  The Pythons will be a defining part of Cambridge for me.”

Today, Thomas Piachaud flies to China to assume a teaching position at one of the country’s best universities.  His efforts have enabled dozens of Cambridge students like Moore to play a varsity sport at a very competitive level as early as their second season.  The true test of his leadership will be whether the Pythons survive his departure, but the momentum built up over the past few years make it seem an almost certainty that his legacy will live on.

Final score Cambridge 22, UEA 6.

The Pythons would like to thank all the fans who attended.

The Pythons’ next game is Sunday, February 23 at Coldham’s Common versus Canterbury at 1:00 p.m.  See the following link for the Facebook event:

http://www.facebook.com/events/692740357420520/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming

The Pythons are still welcoming new players.  No previous American football experience required.  For more information, please contact Sam Thompson at sirt2@cam.ac.uk.