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09.09.2008 Coventry Cassidy Jets

Jets Return To The National Championship After Narrow Escape From Aztecs

The Cassidy Jets narrowly survived a valiant fight-back from the Bristol Aztecs to escape with 31-28 victory in a semi-final match-up that almost never happened. The Jets stuttering offence produced little throughout the first half as a string of penalties stopped quarterback Dax Michelena from finding any rhythm with his receivers. James Hossack was the lone bright spot in the early exchanges, his 3 receptions earned him 2 touchdowns and his 2 point conversion meant that he accounted for the Jets first 14 points of the game.

Tim Spaull and Adam Etheridge
(c) Coventry Jets
Tim Spaull and Adam Etheridge
(c)Coventry Jets

Heavy rainfall throughout the week had cast doubt over the fixture as 4 venues deemed their pitch unplayable. Cov Tech RFC, who are set to begin their season away at Ansty on Saturday, stepped in at the eleventh hour to ensure that the game could go ahead as scheduled. The Cassidy Jets didn’t get moving until their second possession when Hossack found space and caught a 23 yard bullet from Michelena. The play buoyed a subdued sideline and also the offence.

Kofi Campbell rumbled for 13 and 15 yards on consecutive carries before Michelena noticed the amount of space that Bristol defensive back Jamie Wilkinson was allowing Hossack. The two hooked up for the second time on the drive with the Great Britain receiver scoring his first touchdown since coming back from an injury sustained against the Oslo Vikings back in April. Campbell couldn’t convert the extra point as he was stopped short of the endzone.

The Aztecs responded with a 43 yard drive before inside linebacker Alistair Bailey brought it to a juddering halt with a 5 yard sack on a fourth down play at Coventry’s 23. The Canadian giant lead the defensive effort with 10 solo tackles (5 for losses) and 3 assisted tackles. Midway through the second quarter Bristol got themselves on the scoreboard. Mike Adams broke through the line and cut back to his left leaving would be tacklers in his wake en-route to a 42 yard touchdown. With the extra point kick sailing narrowly wide the scores were finely balanced at 6-6.

With the Jets still struggling to mount any serious offensive threat it wasn’t long until the Aztecs took the ball back and then took the lead too. Nick Smith received the ball on a reverse and galloped untouched into the endzone for a 13-6 halftime lead. Head Coach Gerry McManus rallied his beleaguered troops demanding that they rediscover the spirit they had exhibited in holding Eurobowl Champions the Tirol Raiders for 3 quarters earlier in the season.

McManus’ words were heeded by the Jets as they mounted their best drive of the game on the opening possession of the second half. Michelena had carries of 22 and 12 yards whilst Campbell broke off two 11 yards gains. It was Hossack once again though that found the endzone, this time from 14 yards out. Michelena and Hossack combined one more time for the 2 point conversion to regain a lead that they wouldn’t again relinquish.

There were no more points added in the third quarter and it was Bristol who threatened first in the fourth, though Mark Hibberd’s 25 yard field goal sailed narrowly wide right. The resulting possession for the Jets saw Campbell break the longest play of the day, his 58 yard rumble set up Michelena to go in from 11 yards out. Campbell finished the game with impressive numbers, gaining 139 yards on just 16 carries. David Sonne caught the ensuing 2 point conversion thus putting his old club two scores behind at 22-13.

An athletic interception from Ahmed Hashim handed the ball back to the Jets in great field position but a sack and several penalties later the Jets had to call for a field goal. Three weeks ago Fraser Houston was coaching “soccer” in the US and had never even considered playing the American variety of football. Setting foot on a Gridiron for the first time ever, Houston was asked to convert a 33 yard field goal to effectively hand the game to his new team. Showing no signs of nerves the Staffordshire native split the uprights and sent the Jets sideline into scenes of wild jubilation.

In a 12 point hole the Aztecs showed great fight and determination to move the ball downfield, albeit with the aid of some generous penalties. Smith pulled Bristol back into the contest with an 18 yard reception from Dom Westwood. Hibberd cut the deficit to just five as his kick clanged in off the upright. Steve Coles entered the competition at running back and his impact was immediate. After a carry of 4 yards the former Ipswich Cardinal romped for a 44 yard score stretching the Cassidy Jets lead out to 11 points at 31-20.

The speed with which Coles found the endzone strangely gave the Aztecs a lift as they still had time to get the ball back. On their very first play Westwood and Smith hooked up once more for a 56 yard strike before Adams added the 2 point conversion to pull Bristol within a field goal. The Jets had to call upon their hands team to recover an Aztecs onside kick. Hashim duly obliged and the game was over with Coventry narrowly dodging a bullet.

Britbowl XXII will now see a rematch of last season’s thrilling final after the London Blitz enjoyed a 28-15 victory over the Farnham Fast Lane Knights. The game takes place at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium on Sunday September 21st at 16:00. The Jets will be looking to complete the first ever perfect season in the fledgling BAFL Premier league.

For further details or information please contact: -

Adam Etheridge
Mobile telephone: - 07877 992456

European Federation of American Football