From Watford Cheetahs Website
BLETCHLEY, BUCKINGHAMSHIRE, SUNDAY 21st APRIL 2013 – The Watford Cheetahs (1-0) opened their 2012 Season at arch-rivals the Milton Keynes Pathfinders (0-1) on Sunday, taking home the spoils with a 26-22 victory.
The Pathfinders won the toss and elected to defer, and so the Cheetahs started the game with great promise as Wide receiver TJ Ajayi took the opening kick-off all the way back to the Pathfinders 13 yard line. However, they were unable to take advantage of the short field and the drive resulted in a 30 yard Field Goal from Kicker and Safety Danny Morton being blocked. The Pathfinders took over and put together a strong drive to get in Field Goal range, which Kicker, Running Back and Safety Ben Williams duly converted (3-0).
Another good return from Ajayi, and two penalties on the MK defence allowed the Cheetahs to move into the red zone, and they opened their account for the season when Quarterback Martin Brown hooked up with 2nd Year Tight end Julian Lorelli on a short pass, which was run in 10 yards for the opening touchdown, breaking 3 tackles on the way. The extra point was missed and MK ended the 1st quarter in possession (6-3).
|c/o Luke Plastow Photography|
The Cheetahs defence stepped up to the plate in the 2nd Quarter when Safety Jason Scurfield picked off the Pathfinders Quarterback, Luke Smith, at halfway and brought it all the way back to the 8 yard line, shifting momentum firmly in the way of Watford. The first three downs brought little gain but Head Coach Nik Maxey gambled and Quarterback Brown completed to Wide receiver James Lowry in the back corner of the end zone on 4th down for the Cheetahs second score of the day. Rookie Half-back Andy Wilkes then took in the 2 point conversion for a 14-3 lead.
The Pathfinders were not ready to roll-over, and drove back down the field immediately behind strong running of heavyweight Fullback Nick Price and a 15 yard pass interference penalty, and Williams punched it in from the 1yard line to bring the game back into the balance, although the extra point was missed wide right (14-9).
On the next drive the Cheetahs gained yardage through a long completion to Wide receiver Craig Edmunds, and eventually Ajayi ran it in from the 15 to give the Cheetahs some breathing room. The 2pt conversion was incomplete (20-9).
MK took the field looking to retort but Scurfield perfectly jumped a route and returned the pick 70 yards to the 1. The Cheetahs took 3 plays to score when 6’6” Wide receiver Sam Roberts jumped over the defender to snag the touchdown. Again the 2pt was not converted and the teams went into the half with the home side down 26-9.
The second half was all Milton Keynes, as they immediately scored through a pass from Smith to Jeremie Leonard in the corner of the end zone to make it 26-16.
Despite strong running from RB Kenny Gayle behind the Cheetahs offensive line led by veteran Centre Matt Malcher, Watford were unable to add to their tally and the teams went into the final quarter separated by just 10 points.
Again in the 4th Quarter, MK Quarterback Smith led his team back with poise, and threw a 30 yard strike down the left touchline to WR Paul Settle to pull the Pathfinders back within a score (26-22).
The Cheetahs again struggled on offence, but the defence held firm, led by Nose Tackle Craig Cudmore (9 Tackles on the day) and Matt Bright (5 Tackles). An incomplete pass on 4th down from Smith allowed the Cheetahs offence to run out the clock for their first victory vs. MK in 3 years.
Head Coach Maxey of the Cheetahs had this to say:
‘A great start to the season, with a tough away victory. Team played with passion and pride, and have us in great shape for what promising to be an exciting campaign ahead.’
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