Norwich Devils v Ipswich Cardinals
Sunday 29th July 2018
Report by Alan Baxter-Smith
Photographs – John Mallet Photography
Derby Games in any Sport are always good games to watch. Any game which involves a fixture between Ipswich and Norwich certainly always adds a little spice to the occasion both in terms of the supporters banter and the teams on the field. The majority of the Devils squad don’t actually originate from Norwich, indeed a fair few don’t even originate from the UK. The multi-national squad includes more than 12 international players and coaches from all over the world, a sign of the multi-cultural nature of the Fine City of Norwich, and for some the rivalry between Norwich and Ipswich was unheard of until the fixture list was announced. The build up to the game had however, placed it square in the forefront of their minds. Messages of good luck from strangers online and locals giving thumbs up from passing cars to anyone seen in a Devils T-Shirt had been commonplace for a number of players all week.
The Devils were however looking at the game with the same intensity they had spent on all their games that season. The same amount of work had been done in the classroom and on the training field and they felt ready to grind out the Devils first victory against their local rivals in over 10 years. They knew what the Ipswich Cardinals were going to bring to the game and felt confident they could come away with the victory.
As it turned out you can plan all you like but its what happens on the day which you have to adapt to. The poor weather was the only rain and strong wind East Anglia had seen since the start of the Season and the Devils game relies heavily on mixture of run and pass. There was always going to be a number of battles on the field but a major Devils weapon, their passing game, was going to be impacted and that would make it even harder to win the war.
Ipswich won the coin toss and elected to receive the ball. A good return by the Cardinals’ Kick Returner was brought back for a holding penalty and they would begin their first drive from their own 24 yard line. Beginning with their outside run game they made a steady start with Devils’ Cornerback Wayne Diggines stopping the elusive Cardinals Running Back. After trying the pass which failed due to Linebacker Piers Harrison-Reid’s quick reactions the Cardinals found themselves at 3rd and 2. Returning to their run game, this time on the inside, they were able to just pick up the necessary yardage and continue the drive. Going with the inside run again the Cardinals were knocked backwards as Linebacker Ace Faatuai introduced the Cardinals’ Fullback to his no-nonsense power hitting. The Devils’ Defence were taken unawares by a Cardinals’ trick play on the next play. A halfback option, where the Running Back opted to pass the ball before crossing the line of Scrimmage, connected with the Cardinals’ Wide Receiver on the Devils 17 yard line much to the delight of the Home supporters. The Devils’ defence were obviously annoyed with the big loss of yards and this was expressed on the next play by another big hit by Faatuai on the Cardinals Running back as he attempted to run down the middle. It was this passage of play that, unbeknown to everyone at the time, would change the expected pattern of the game as the Cardinals’ leading rusher and touchdown scorer left the field with what seemed like a shoulder injury. The Cardinals’ opted for the pass on the next play, Linebacker Harrison-Reid again showed his abilities in pass coverage by jumping inside the Wide Receiver’s route and intercepting the ball. He was taken down almost immediately but the Devils’ Offence would take to the field on their own 20 yard line. Except for falling for the trick play it was a good start for the Devils’ Defence but everyone on the sideline knew the game would be a marathon not a sprint.
The Devils’ began with their run game but some good work by the Cardinals’ Defensive Line stopped any significant yardage gain. The Devils’ were called back for an Illegal Procedure Penalty, when it was harshly judged they had 5 men in the backfield. but the Cardinals’ sideline declined the penalty, opting to not give the Devils a repeat of downs. The Devils went to their passing game but it quickly became obvious just what affect the weather would have on their usually effective offensive unit. Strong gusts of wind in multiple directions resulted in the ball changing its course mid air and failing to find its frustratingly open target. Eventually the Devils were forced to punt and the Cardinals would begin their next drive on their own 39 yard line.
The Cardinals began with their run game but Linebacker Ed Bowling was wise to the play and took the fullback down for a 2 yard loss. Going with their power running, the Cardinals again attempted to go down the middle but again Faatuai stood like a wall and they failed to make any yardage. At 3rd and 11 the Cardinals went to the pass but, when the Cardinals’ QB seemed to not be on the same page as his Receiver, they failed to connect and were forced to punt.
The Devils’ Offence began their next drive on their own 30 yard line. A Quarterback run by Andre Belles-Flores took the ball downfield and determined running by Running Back Matt Ward took the ball over the halfway line. More powerful running by Ward kept moving the ball downfield but yet again when the Devils went to their passing game the wind took the ball away from the intended receivers. Eventually the Devils were forced to punt and when the wind took the ball way out the back of the end zone the Cardinals would begin their next drive on their own 20 yard line.
A good power run up the middle, this time avoiding Faatuai, took the Cardinals close to a first down and an outside run kept the drive going. A pass was almost intercepted by Cornerback Wayne Diggines before the Cardinals again ran the ball up the middle and made a solid gain to the Devils’ 25 yard line. Sticking with the run the Cardinals’ attempted to set up a running lane but Faatuai crashed through the blocking to take down the Cardinals’ Running Back for a small gain. On the next play the Cardinals attempted the same thing to the other side but again Faatuai was quickly across to stop the run for another small gain. Perhaps realising that running it down the middle wasn’t getting them very far, and at 3rd and 8, the Cardinals went to the pass and when the Wide Receivers were covered, as the Devils’ Defence dropped back, their Quarterback dumped off the ball to the uncovered Running Back. Despite a strong tackle from Cornerback James Grey the Cardinals’ player was just about able to move the chains and the drive continued. Some strong running up the middle by the Cardinals combined with some weak tackling took them down towards the Devils goal line and the the 1st Quarter ended with the Cardinals at 1st and goal from the Devils’ 2 yard line.
End of 1st Quarter Score: Devils 0 – Ipswich Cardinals 0
Obviously going for the Power Run, with such a short distance to the endzone, the Cardinals were at first thwarted by the Devils when Devils’ Nose Tackle Russ Groves took down the Cardinals’ Running Back short of the endzone. Groves was unable to stop the Quarterback sneak and leading drive by the hugely experienced Cardinals’ Centre on the next play however, and the Home side were able to celebrate the first score of the game. The extra point attempt was good and the Devils found themselves 7 points behind and facing into the ever increasing wind early in the 2nd Quarter.
Score: Devils 0 – Ipswich Cardinals 7
An apparent incorrect call by the Referees, awarding a touchback on the kickoff when the ball bounced several yards before the goal line and up into the waiting arms of the Returner in the end zone, who didn’t put his knee down or ground the ball, and thus actually kept the ball live. Then a correct call of offside on the Cardinals’ meant the Devils’ would begin their next drive from their own 25 yard line. The whole situation brought about jeering from the large knowledgable crowd who had spotted the error by the officials but the Devils’ Offence retook the field, without any complaint, hopeful to improve on their 1st quarter performance. A Pass Interference Penalty against the Cardinals, when the intended Devils’ Receiver was blatantly shoved in the back as he went to catch the ball, moved the chains upfield and then a quick catch and run from Tightend and Head Coach Chris Mills moved the ball further. An unsportsmanlike like Penalty, against Ipswich Linebacker Tom Markham for shoving Devils’ Quarterback Andre Belles-Flores back to the ground when he attempted to get to his feet after the play was dead, should have moved the ball 15 yards downfield but, the Devils’ player retaliated to the cheap shot and the resulting Unsportsmanlike Penalty on him kept the ball where it was but gave the Devils a first down. It was an example of the fierce rivalry between the two clubs and the first sign of that manifesting on the field. Back up Quarterback Chris Wilkinson was brought on to allow the Devils’ starting Quarterback a chance to calm down, but some poor route running by the Devils’ Receivers combined with a good blitz by the Cardinals meant he was forced to try and scramble and was subsequently sacked for a big loss. Belles-Flores returned to the field on the next play and scrambled back to the original line of Scrimmage but at 3rd and 10 the Devils Receiver was unable to hold onto the pass under pressure from the Cardinals’ DB and the Devils were forced to again punt. To add insult to injury the Devils stupidly broke the huddle with 12 men on the field and suffered a 5 yard Substitution Penalty and then the wind caught hold of the Punt and blew it out of bounds at the halfway line, giving the Cardinals excellent field position to start their next drive.
The Cardinals went back to their run game but Linebacker Ed Bowling was able to stop them with a strong tackle for a short gain. They then attempted a short screen pass to the outside but again Bowling spotted the play and stopped any significant gain. A well worked run to the outside on the next play by the Cardinals however, enabled them to move the chains once more. A run up the middle on the next drive which ended with an unpunished small altercation kept the Cardinals moving and when Defensive Lineman Mark Nicholls and Linebacker Faatuai combined to take down the Cardinals’ Runner on the next play short of the first down, the Devils’ Defence found themselves defending yet another 3rd down conversion attempt. With only a yard to gain the Cardinals attempted a power run up the middle. Linebacker Bowling however, was more than equal to the task, driving the runner backwards after contact. Despite having the wind behind them and just outside the Redzone the Cardinals opted to go for it at 4th and 1. Perhaps aware of the need to score highly against the Devils Offence who hadn’t failed to score at least 3 touchdowns all year. It was proving to be a tight game already but having been successful with their power running they obviously felt confident they could get the necessary yardage. At first it looked like they had with a well worked Quarterback sneak gaining the required yard. However, an Illegal Formation Penalty for 5 men in the backfield negated the play and they found themselves at 4th and 6. Still opting to go for it they went to the pass. Cornerback James Grey was caught napping when the Cardinals Receiver ran a late post route and made a great diving catch in the Devils Endzone for the Cardinals second score of the game. The extra point was good and the Devils found themselves two scores down in the game.
Score: Devils 0 – Ipswich Cardinals 14
An unsportsmanlike Penalty enforced on the kickoff, after a Cardinals’ Offensive Lineman grabbed a Devils player in a headlock and tried to throw him to the ground, after the converted extra point meant the kickoff would be 15 yards back. However, the wind again decided to blow and, despite the distance, the ball flew out of the end zone for a touchback and the Devils’ would start their next drive on their own 20 yard line. As the Devils’ offence took to the field the Devils’ coaches reminded them not to panic. There was a lot of the game still to go and they just needed to get into the rhythm they had shown throughout the season. Some good running by Running Back Ward settled them down before Quarterback Belles-Flores was finally able to find his range, picking out Wide Receiver Adam Jones for a 20 yard gain. A tripping penalty against Cardinals Linebacker Tom Markham who, after falling to the floor, proceeded to kick out at the Devils’ Receiver as he collected the ball added another 10 yards onto the play and the Devils found themselves well into Cardinals’ territory. A quick pass and throw by Belles-Flores to Wide Receiver Harris Todd gained the Devils another first down and when Belles-Flores ran the ball through the heart of the Cardinals Defence the Devils found themselves at 1st and goal on the Cardinals 10 yard line. Going for a hard count the Devils drew the Cardinals’ Defensive line offside but Belles-Flores opted to take the free play immediately looping the ball up for Wide Receiver Harris Todd to go get it in the corner of the Endzone, which he subsequently did despite the Cardinals’ Cornerback trying to take him down before the ball got there. Both flags on the play didn’t matter as the Devils celebrated their first score of the game. It had been a quick and clinical drive by the Devils’ Offence and the first sign of their quality which has surprised teams all year. Adam Jones added the extra point and the Devils’ found themselves back in the game.
Score: Devils 7 – Ipswich Cardinals 14
Again the gusty wind blew as the Devils kicked off and the resulting shorter than usual kick combined with an elusive run back by the Cardinals returner meant the Cardinals would begin their next drive in good field position on the Devils’ 39 yard line. A Quarterback run up the middle, when the Devils’ Defensive line were slow to get into position, was stopped by Linebacker and Defensive Captain Richard Gray when after a crunching tackle he also stripped the ball from the Quarterback’s grasp. Despite being recovered by the Cardinals it was an immediate impact for the big man returning to the field after being out for the season thus far with a back injury, and a welcome sight as the Devils’ hit the postseason playoffs. A rampaging run down the outside by the Cardinals Running Back took the Cardinals close to the first down and when an Offside Penalty was called against the Devils at 3rd and 2 the Cardinals were again able to move the chains as the 2 minute warning was called. Another powerful run by the Cardinals running back took the ball further downfield to the Devils’ 20 yard line and the Cardinals were looking to add to their score just before the half. A poor pass by the Cardinals Quarterback into empty field took the Cardinals to 3rd and 5 but yet again they were able to convert with another rampaging run to the outside. Going to the pass again and easy catch was dropped by the Cardinals Receiver in the end zone, much to the crowds disappointment. Again they returned to the run and made good yardage up the middle but again they found themselves at 3rd and 5. Taking a time out to stop the clock the Cardinals gathered themselves before going with the pass agin, this time to the other side. For once the wind gusted for the Devils and the ball was blown out of bounds forcing the Cardinals to go for the field goal right before the halftime whistle. With the wind behind them and the ball on the 9 yard line it should have been a formality but, after a good rush by the Devils, Defensive Lineman Jordan Knights, a former Ipswich player, reached up his big hand to stop the ball and after the dust had settled the Devils would take over on downs on their own 25 yard line with just seconds to go in the half. The Cardinals lined up on Defence with 12 men on the field and the Devils moved 5 yards downfield. When Quarterback Belles-Flores just failed to connect with Wide Receiver Todd who looked to have a free run to the end zone and the Cardinals Defender grabbed hold of the tipped ball for an interception it looked like the ball would be turned over. But again, Cardinals’ Linebacker Tom Markham drew a flag by slamming into Belles-Flores long after the ball had gone. The Roughing the Passer Penalty took the Devils down to the halfway line with 5 seconds left to try and add to their points tally before the end of the half. A quick screen play and pass to Wide Receiver Jones was the call and despite being well executed the Cardinals were able to cover with Jones only reaching the 25 yard line before time expired.
Half Time Score: Devils 7 – Ipswich Cardinals 14
After the half time team talk by their coaches the Devils returned to the field with renewed vigour. They had after all began to show some quality on Offence and the Defence had been forcing the Cardinals to take 3 plays to get a first down most of the time. They hoped to get a quick score to start the half and take that momentum forward for the win. A good kick return by Harris Todd meant the Devils would begin their next drive from their own 34 yard line. Going with the pass Belles-Flores continued to struggle with the wind and failed to connect. Changing to the run, as the rain began to fall, Running Back Alan Baxter-Smith was able to run it up the middle for a short gain. But when Belles-Flores again went to the pass and again the wind took the ball well over the intended receiver the Devils were forced to punt. A false start penalty on the kick took them back 5 yards but eventually with the wind behind him, punter Adam Jones was able to get the ball down to the Cardinals’ 9 yard line when the Home Offence would begin their next drive.
Going with the run up the middle the Cardinals were stopped easily by Linebacker Gray and when they tried it again Linebacker Faatuai proved to be an immovable object. Opting for a screen pass on 3rd down, Corner Back Diggines and Linebacker Harrison-Reid spotted the play and stopped the receiver for no gain and the Cardinals were forced to punt. It was good 3 and out start to the 2nd half for the Devils’ Defence and resulted in the Devils beginning their next drive on the Cardinals’ 40 yard line.
The Devils’ Offence looked to take advantage of the good field position but the Cardinals’ Defensive Line were having none of it. A blitz through the line took down Running Back Baxter-Smith behind the line of scrimmage for a loss and then a Holding penalty against the Devils took them further back. Going with the pass again the usually accurate Belles-Flores continued having an off day, missing the open receiver yet again and the Devils found themselves at 3rd and very long. A clear Offside Penalty against the Cardinals enabled Belles-Flores to try and throw on a free play but he couldn’t take advantage. With a repeat of the down the Devils lined up to try and make the long yardage for the first down. Belles-Flores tried to take advantage of the Cardinals’ Secondary dropping back to the gain line and scrambled to just short of the first down marker and it looked like they would be unsuccessful. However, Cardinals’ Linebacker Tom Markham had reached the end of his time on the field. A blatant head butt on Devils’ Running Back Matt Ward during the play a yard in front of the Referee brought about a flag and his ejection from the field. Another Penalty flag was thrown against the Cardinals for protesting the call as he left the field and when the dust settled the Devils found themselves on the Cardinals’ 7 yard line. The Devils’ Offence were determined to take advantage of the gift they had been given by the Cardinals and after Running Back Ward drove down to within inches of the end zone a Quarterback sneak by Belles-Flores and drive by virtually the whole Offensive Unit took the ball into the endzone. The extra point by Jones was good and the Devils found themselves all tied up with the momentum behind them for the first time in the game.
Score: Devis 14 – Ipswich Cardinals 14
With the wind behind him, Jones was able to easily kick the ball out of the end zone for a touchback and the Cardinals would begin their next drive from their own 20 yard line. Going with the run once more, Nose Tackle Russ Groves grabbed hold of the Cardinals’ Running Back at the Line of Scrimmage and didn’t let go. Attempting to run up the middle again the Running Back was met by Linebacker Gray who, after being joined by his team mates, ripped the ball from the Cardinal players grasp. A very early whistle which favoured the Cardinals however, blew just as the ball was taken and the Cardinals kept their drive going. Again they found themselves at 3rd and 5 and again they went for the power run up the middle and again they just about managed to make the required yardage. It was attritional but effective football from the Cardinals and the frustration for the Devils Defence could be seen all across the field. Going for the run down the middle once more the Cardinals started with a small amount of yardage, before Richard Gray powered through the line to drive the Running Back backwards. The Devils Linebacker let out a roar to rally his troops after the play to which the Devils’ sideline replied with a roar of their own. When the Cardinals attempted a run to the outside, Linebacker Bowling spotted the play immediately and took down the runner for a 5 yard loss and the Cardinals were forced to punt.
A short punt which went out of bounds meant the Devils would begin their next drive from their own 43 yard line. Beginning with a Quarterback run play as the Cardinals became occupied with taking out his blockers, Belles-Flores took it 9 yards downfield. Running Back Matt Ward moved the chains on the next play. The Devils went to their Passing game and despite Belles-Flores finally finding a way to deal with the strong winds, Wide Receiver Dom Howes just couldn’t hold onto the ball when he would have had a free run into the end zone. A perfectly worked fake handoff enabled Belles-Flores to run it down the Cardinals 21 yard line and the Devils found themselves just outside the Red Zone. A well timed blitz by the Cardinals on the next play took down Ward as he took the handoff and the Devils moved backwards. Seemingly unsure of what play he wanted to call next, Quarterback Belles-Flores failed to call the snap in time and a Delay of Game flag was thrown. The Devils then attempted a quick pass to the outside but again the usual laser accurate Devils QB overthrew the ball and the Devils found themselves at 3rd and very long. When the next pass attempt also failed to find its target the Devils were at 4th and long but still within field goal range with the wind behind them. However, before they could get a chance to take the kick the whistle blew for the end of the 3rd Quarter.
End of 3rd Quarter Score: Devils 14 – Ipswich Cardinals 14
Knowing the strength of Kicker Adam Jones’ leg the Devils still went for the Field Goal even though it was into the wind. Unfortunately he didn’t connect with the ball as he usually would and the kick failed to gain the height needed to go through the posts. The Cardinals had a man waiting under the posts who collected the ball and proceeded to run it back to the Cardinals’ 34 yard line.
The Cardinals firstly went to their passing game with a short dump off pass to their Running Back for a 5 yard gain. Returning to their run game the Cardinals were stopped up the middle by former Cardinals player Jake Yallop who slammed the Cardinals Running Back to the ground for no gain. Yet again the Cardinals found themselves at 3rd and 5 and going with the run up the middle again it appeared that Defensive Lineman Jordan Knights had stopped them at least a yard short. A very favourable spot however gave the Cardinals the first down by about an inch and they were able to continue their drive. It was becoming apparent that the Cardinals’ Running back was running out of steam. Having had to pretty much run the whole game, with the Cardinals run heavy Offence and especially after the injury to their starting RB it was no surprise. It was clearly evident when on the next play Linebacker Ed Bowling was able to get around the Cardinals’ Offensive Tackle, turn in and catch the Cardinals’ Running Back before he made it 2 yards over the line of scrimmage. Seemingly realising this the Cardinals went to their passing game and attempted to launch a long ball downfield, only to face the same issues the Devils had faced when throwing the long ball when a gust of wind took the ball away from the intended Receiver. At 3rd and 8 the Cardinals went back to their Running Back to try and get the first down. After some excellent play from his blockers the powerful runner seemed to be stopped several yards short of the line to gain. He wasn’t done however and with tremendous effort he took two men the required extra 3 yards and just about got the first down. Going to the run again on the next play the Cardinals’ Running Back tried to go to the outside where Linebacker Bowling took him down with a well timed tap tackle. The Cardinals attempted a trick play with a reverse pass when it looked like the Running back was going to the outside once more. Linebacker Ace Faatuai had been allowed to rampage through the line untouched and, when his speed took the Cardinals Running Back by surprise, he was unable to hand the ball off before Faatuai laid into him with one of his big hits. The ball popped out backwards and Faataui recovered to hand the ball over to his offence just inside the Cardinals’ half.
With the wind still blowing the Devils opted to go with their running game and take advantage of the tiring Cardinals’ Defence. Matt Ward began running the Ball down the middle following good work from the Devils’ Offensive Line and eventually, over a serious of mazy runs, moved the ball down to the Cardinals’ 16 yard yard line. The Cardinals’ Defence seemed to not be able to stop the elusive runner, but after what could be called a tactical injury stop for a Cardinals’ player, where the speed at which the player got up and jogged off after the stoppage raised some eyebrows, the Cardinals were able to substitute some players. This showed on the next play when one of those fresh players broke through the line to sack Quarterback Belles-Flores for a small loss. The Devils however went to the pass on their next play with a short dump off to Running Back Ward who looked like he was shoved out of bounds right on the first down marker. However, the ball was spotted 4 yards short and the Devils found themselves at 4th and 4. They opted to go for it with the gusty wind now blowing hard in all directions rather than attempt the kick, especially having had such success with the run the whole drive. But Running Back Baxter-Smith was stopped short following good block shedding from the Cardinals’ Defensive line and the ball was handed over on downs at the Cardinals’ 20 yard line.
As the devastated Devils’ Offence left the field the Devils’ Defence gave reassurances to them that they would get the ball back for and they would get another chance. The Cardinals went to their run play yet again but this time with a new Running Back. He didn’t have the ball for long however when Ace Faatuai made yet another play on the ball , diving full stretch to tap tackle the runner bursting through the line. As he fell forward, Linebacker Piers Harrison-Reid punched the ball from his grasp and from the ensuing melee Defensive Lineman Joe Waller emerged clutching the ball to huge cheers from the Devils’ sideline and groans from the home support.
The Devils Offence would begin their drive from the Cardinals’ 24 yard line with less than 5 minutes left on the clock. Things started well with Quarterback Belles-Flores picking up the first down with another designed run play. Moving to the Line of scrimmage quickly, looking to go with their hurry up Offence, the referee was unfortunately not at the same pace and again the Cardinals were able to get themselves set for the play. An attempted run down the middle was stopped for a small loss when the Cardinals’ overloaded the box with a well timed blitz. A False Start Penalty took the Devils back another 5 yards and when a pass into the end zone fell agonisingly out of bounds the Devils found themselves attempting another long Field Goal into the strong wind. Following a good rush and jump by the Cardinals the kick was blocked and collected by a Cardinals’ player. Kicker Adam Jones was able to get across and take down the runner down but the Cardinals would begin their next drive on their own 30 yard line.
A good run up the centre began the drive with their Running Back, obviously having had time to recuperate following the Devils near two consecutive possessions, picking up the first down. Attempting a similar play the Devils were able to stop the run and at 3rd and 5 again, the Cardinals went to their Dump off play. It looked like the Devils had managed to stop the runner a yard shy of the first down but a favourable spot moved the chains. Another Run up the middle was stopped at the Line of Scrimmage by Faatuai for no gain but the Cardinals went to the pass on their next play launching a long ball out to the right hand side. A brilliant diving catch by the Cardinals’ Receiver at the 10 yard line was bad enough for the Devils but, when a Personal Foul Penalty was called on Devils’ Cornerback Wayne Diggines after the play and an ensuing 5 yards were added on, it got even worse. It was a blow for the Devils Defence who had not given up any big yardage for most of the game and came at crucial time in the game for the Cardinals. It didn’t take long for the Cardinals to take advantage of the excellent field position. On the very next play the Cardinals Running Back was able to power his way across the line for the go ahead score to huge cheers from the home support. Despite a fumbled ball placement on the extra point the ball just managed to creep over the bar and the Cardinals took a 7 point lead with just over 2 minutes left in the game.
Score: Devils 14 – Ipswich Cardinals 21
With the wind behind them the Cardinals were able to kick the ball out of the end zone for a touch back and the Devils would attempt to take the ball 80 yards downfield with just over 2 minutes to go in the game. Things started well, A Quarterback run, and dump off play of their own to Running Back ward and then a run up the middle by Ward took the ball up to the 40 Yard Line. Utilising their hurry up Offence the Devils were moving quickly but were halted by the 2 minute warning. In what was a confusing moment for the Devils they were called for a Delay of Game. It became apparent that the usual 2 minutes break given to the 2 minute warning had been only about 30 seconds and not hearing the whistle for the resumption of play the Devils’ Offence took their time getting to the line. The whole incident seemed to unsettle the Devils’ Offence and on their next play they were called for a false start Penalty. At 3rd and 20 they went with a screen pass to Running Back Ward who made it 15 yards and brought about a game deciding 4th and 5. The Devils went with the Pass but Belles-Flores threw the ball long and high and the ball was handed over on downs for the Cardinals to run out the clock.
Final Score: Devils 33 – Maidstone Pumas 12
Defensive MVP – Joe waller
Offensive MVP – Matt Ward
As the Devils showed thanks to their travelling supporters in the stands and huddled round for the post match chat, there was obvious disappointment on their faces. It had been a hard fought and very close game but the Devils Offence certainly felt that they had not performed at all to their usual standards. Wayward passing and failure to retain composure at critical times had let them down and it was clear they had let their Defence down on the field. Perhaps it was the fact it was most of the teams first such Derby game and they pressure of the occasion had got to them. Perhaps the tactics from the Cardinals had unsettled them to such an extent that they couldn’t get into their usual rhythm often enough. One thing was for certain, they would learn from it. You always learn more from a defeat than a victory and they would lick their wounds and move on. It was a shame that the league had chosen to only have one fixture between the two teams this year as the game was an excellent advert for American Football in the local area and certainly raises the profile of the sport whenever its played. Its also a shame the Devils would have to wait until 2019 to have another crack at getting the Derby victory. Results elsewhere however, had ensured they would move into the playoffs despite the result and there was still an opportunity to make their already successful first season back in the league even more so.
It’s even harder when you had the opportunity to win but kept shooting yourself in the foot.
Offensively we were not on the ball today, lots of costly mistakes were made, many of them were entirely avoidable.
The defence however balled out. I’m very proud of how they caused multiple turnovers and let them know that we can hit too!
I told the players they have 12hrs of feeling like C$%# about the loss, then we’re to refocus on the visiting London Blitz next week. That’s exactly what we’re going to do. The game’s done, we now move on to defend our home turf.
Chris Mills, Devils Head Coach
Next up for the Devils is the return home fixture against the London Blitz B. Having pushed the Blitz hard in the opening game of the season its been a long wait for the Devils to get some redemption and they will look to show the London outfit how far they have come since their first fixture. The Blitz are looking to complete a perfect unbeaten regular season, having swept aside the other teams in the conference with ease, and take momentum into the playoffs so it will be a tough match up for the Devils It also marks the final game of the regular season and the last home game of 2018. We do hope that our supporters will come down and give us their invaluable support one last time this year. The weather looks to be a scorcher and there will a BBQ and Ice Creams for all to enjoy, we hope you can make it.
The Devils’ committee would like to thank their support staff, who despite the bad weather kept the teams morale up on the sideline during the game and once again provided them with much needed refreshments throughout.
They would also like to thank the Devils Official Photographer, John Mallet from John Mallet Photography who, despite the poor weather, showed up and managed to take some brilliant shots despite being soaked through by the end of the game.
They would also like to thank our fans who attended the game and we apologise for not being able to bring home the win, we know it meant a lot to you.
Finally they would like to thank the the Ipswich Cardinals for their hospitality and look forward to more tough games with them in the future.
The Devils will be in the Playoffs following the regular season. Stay tuned for updates when opponents and locations are confirmed.
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