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13.08.2005 Farnham Knights
Great Britain: Knights beat O´s
Personal Assurance Knights 22 - 21 London Olympians
In a game that showcased the very best of top level British American
Football the current National Champions held on to their lead in the Southen
Division 1 Conference with a thrilling one point victory over the former
champion London Olympians.
The Knights had lost in the teams previous meeting in London earlier in the
season in a game where nothing had gone right for the Guildford based team
after the first quarter. The Olympians however had subsequently lost to the
Southern Sundevils leaving the Knights leading the Conference. The Knights
knew that this would be a no nonsense test of their resolve to retain the
One touchdown that had a great influence on the game happened 4 days before
the kick off !! Paul Attia arrived in London to join the Knights for the
remainder of their campaign. Attia a dual national Egyptian/Canadian had
previously played College football in the States (NCAA Div1AA) with Liberty
College and in Canadian College football with Western University in the CIS.
After 20 months away from the game he was scheduled by the Knights to help
out on both Offense and Defense - an early injury to star runner Kingsley
Ejiogu however saw his debut turn into a baptism of fire as he carried the
ball 32 times for 173yds - leaving just a little time and energy for
occasional series as a Defensive back.
The Knights received the opening kick off and made an early statement
regarding their intention to use the power of their Offensive Line to move
the ball on the ground. 1,000yd rushing star Ejiogu carried the ball for 12
yards on the first play from scrimmage and Attia followed that up with 11yds
and a second successive Knights first down. The Olympians however managed to
slow the home team progress - and in the process Ejiogu sustained an injury
that caused him to leave the game.
With Stuart Franklin not available for the game the Londoners turned to
former Great Britain QB Junior Price to lead their offense. The Knights
defense however - led by former London Monarch Tony Mackenzie slammed the
door shut on the visitors ground game and they were soon forced to punt the
ball back to the Knights.
Knights QB Ashley Heath then engineered a patient Knights drive featuring
strong runs from Attia complimented by two short yardage pick ups by Paul
"Benny" Wakeford. With the Olympians crowding the line of scrimmage to stop
the run, QB Heath fired a 39yd bomb to Wide Receiver Jonathon Gerring to
open the scoring for the Knights. Steve Belchers extra point attempt was
judged to have missed and the Knights led 6-0 as the quarter came to an end.
The Olympians were forced again to punt to the Knights and a good return
from Mike Dunson saw the home team take possession at their own 40yd line.
The Knights turned again to Attia and his darting runs behind full back
Moses Tomas made good use of the ground clearing ability of the Knights
Offensive line. The drive set up Paul Wakefords four yard run - the
fullback going into the endzone virtually untouched behind Center Dave
Carpenter and Right Guard Kevin Keohane. Steve Belcher made sure of the kick
by perfectly splitting the uprights and the Knights stretched their lead to
The two defences then dominated the next couple of drives. Price was chased
and harried by Defensive Ends Tim Siewert and Liam Smith while Tony
Mackenzie and Ken Ross added to their tackle stats when the visitors
attempted to run.
With the half coming to an end the Knights had possesion again. A short
screen pass to Paul Wakeford looked likely to result in a big gain for the
home team but the Olympians Sacha Conte came up with a big play as he
managed to intercept the pass and return it to the Knights 15yd line.
Price then found just enough time to get the ball in the air to Andy Boyle
who hauled in the 19yd pass for the first league points to be scored against
the Knights defense in a home game this year. Boyle kicked the extra point
and the score stood at 13-7 at the half.
The Olympians had the first possession of the second half and they came out
in a determined mood. A long drive from the visitors ate up the clock and
kept the Knights defense on the field for a lot longer than they had been
used to in the first half. Fourth down conversions from Clive Palumbo and
Andy Boyle kept the drive going, as with the Olympian ground game failing to
make progress, Price went to the air to keep the visitors moving.
Facing fourth down and short yardage at the Knights 12yd line the visitors
had the choice of a 29yd Field Goal to close the Knights lead to just a
Field Goal or to go for it and keep the prospect of a go ahead touchdown
alive. Having already converted two fourth down situations on the drive the
visitors coaching staff decided to roll the dice again - unfortunately for
them it was third time unlucky as the Knights Defense held firm and the home
team took over the ball deep in their own territory.
A short run and an incomplete pass saw the Knights facing third and long on
their own 15yd line. With the Olympian Offense in a bouyant mood and the
Knights Defense needing a break the home team faced a crucial third down
conversion attempt. Paul Attia was handed the ball and with Moses Tomas and
former London Ravens star Joe StLouis leading the way he blasted his way to
a 25yd gain for the Knights.
QB Ashley Heath found Jonathon Gerring down the sideline for a good gain and
Gavin Hart, giving Attia a well earned breathing space, picked up another
first down as the Knights embarked on their own time consuming drive. With
the bulk of the Knights drive eating up yards on the ground the drive took
the two teams into the fourth quarter. The drive however was slowed by the
Olympian defense as the Knights entered their redzone (20yd line) and,
facing fourth down and 2 from the 4 yard line, this time it was the Knights
coaching staff who had the decision to make. With Steve Belcher, one of the
best ever British League kickers, available and the prospect of stretching
their lead to a two score margin the Knights settled for a 21yd Belcher
Field Goal to lead 16-7.
The Olympians are well known for their comeback wins and the Knights knew
that the game was far from over. With Price finding success through the air
- and a Knights penalty adding a 15yd helping hand - the visitors were soon
threatening the home teams endzone. Again with Mackenzie driving them on the
Knights defense stiffened and the Olympians faced a vital fourth down and
goal to go from the 1yd line. The Olympians running back appeared to have
fumbled the ball at the 1yd line - and the Knights looked to have stopped
his progress short of the endzone. No signal was given but after momentary
confusion the referees unpicked the pile and signalled an Olympian score.
Boyle added the extra point and with 9 minutes remaining the score now stood
The Knights again sought to control the game and the clock with their
running game. This time however it was the Olympian defense that held firm
and the Knights were forced to punt. Great Britain and All Europe returner
Jeremy Sims caught Steve Belchers punt at the Olympian 24 yard line -
76yards later the Londoners were celebrating a go ahead score. Boyle added
the extra point and with 5 minutes remaining the momentum had dramatically
swung in favour of the visitors who led for the first time 16-21 after
After Boyles kick off into the endzone the Knights took over at their own
20yd line. There was no doubt that their drive needed to result in a score
if they were to win the game.
After one short gain a loss of yardage on their second play saw them staring
defeat in the face. Many teams would have crumbled - but QB Ashley Heath
calmly picked out Tony Talbot with a pinpoint 9yd pass to give the Knights a
first down. Paul Attia picked up good yardage on the next play and then
fullback Moses Tomas added to that with a 9yd pass reception from Heath. The
Olympians however stiffened their defense again and the Knights found
themselves facing another 3rd down situation. This time Heath hit WR Jon
Gerring for a 25yd gain to both keep the drive alive and put the Knights
deep into Olympian territory.
Attia then followed Tomas and StLouis in a repeat of the earlier big gain
and was barely stopped by the visitors at their one yard line. From there
Full Back Tomas was unstoppable and he crashed into the endzone for and
emotional score with just 1 minute remaining on the clock. The Knights two
point conversion attempt narrowly failed and the home team led 22-21.
The Olympians were not simply going to accept defeat and a good return from
Clive Palumbo saw them takeover at the halfway line. Price completed a pass
to Sims to put the visitors at the Knights 32yd line - but time was running
out for the visitors. An incomplete pass and another Knights run stop saw
Price spike the ball on the next play to give Boyle the time to attempt a
49yd Field Goal to win the game. The Knights knew that the NFL Europe
triallist had the leg to make the kick - but the celebrations started as the
attempt fell short.
The Knights (7-1) now face tough back to back games with the Southern
Sundevils (4-3-1) who beat the Olympians earlier in the season. Next weeks
game is in Guildford KO at 2-30pm.
Knights Head Coach Steve Rains said "This was a very important win and a
significant come back for us. They have done that to us a couple of times in
the past so it was particularly nice to go ahead in the final minute -
although I dont think our supporters want us to keep it that close every
week!! Paul Attia made a great debut appearance for us after Kingsley had to
come out of the game and we are delighted to have him here - he is a friend
of Cameron Saylor who played for us for the last couple of years and I know
he will be particularly pleased that Paul helped us to a last minute win.
Having said that this was a tremendous team effort and I am proud of
everyone in a blue shirt today"
Defensive Co-ordinator Ian Ellis said "A great performance from our defense.
The front seven held the Olympians to just 17yards on the ground and
although they had some success in the air we held them at crucial points in
the game which resulted in this excellent win"
Assistant offensive Line Coach Paul Setterfield added " With three of our
Offensive line squad missing today our starting five stepped up and did a
fantastic job however I must give a special mention to Kevin Parker who
stepped into the breach whenever we asked him to without any drop off in
production for the Offense - he has been patiently waiting for his chance
and today showed that his dedication and effort have paid off"
Offensive Assistant Paul Allison concluded "We are predominantly a running
team and the ground game was superb, but Ashley showed that we have a
passing threat that cannot be ignored and Jon Gerring had a super day
gaining over 100yds on 4 receptions - those individuals deserve a mention
but as Steve said this was a complete team effort - the guys on both sides
of the ball were in the zone today and simply refused to be beaten, we are
immensly proud of all of them"
A Heath 6 of 10 for 119yds 1TD 1Int
J Gerring 4 for 101yds 1TD
T Talbot 1 for 9yds
M Tomas 1 for 9yds
P Attia 32 for 173yds
P Wakeford 4 for 17yds 1TD
K Ejiogu 3 for 10yds
G Hart 2 for 8yds
M Tomas 3 for 8yds 1TD
R Edgerton 1 for 1yd
Passing 6 of 10 for 119yds 1TD
Rushing 45 for 217yds 2TD
Total 55 plays for 336yds 3TD
Passing 16 of 29 for 192yds 1TD
Rushing 21 for 17yds 1TD
Total 50 plays for 209yds 2TD
Knights Defense (Highlights)
T Mackenzie 10 tackles
K Ross 9 tackles