AMERICAN FOOTBALL: Centurions escape the Storm with last gasp touchdown
6:00am Saturday 15th September 2012 in By Andy Warren, Deputy sports editor, firstname.lastname@example.org, @AndyWarren_
SWINDON Storm suffered late heartbreak as they went down to a touchdown with eight seconds to go as they lost 20-14 to Gloucester Centurions in Wootton Bassett .
The game at Ballard’s Ash looked to be going to overtime after 60 minutes of hard hitting football, but the visitors took advantage of their final possession as quarterback Drew Newiss found receiver Chris Taylor in the corner of the end zone with only eight seconds left on the clock.
Swindon did well to drag themselves back into the contest having slipped 14-0 down early on, in what was their second home game of 2012 as they continue to work towards league entry.
Storm came out strong from the kick-off, with powerful running from Curtis Malcolm and some well-timed passing from quarterback Paul Kent earning long spells in Gloucester territory.
But the visitors’ four years of experience in the South West Second Division soon showed, and they raced into an early 14-point lead thanks to good work from Great Britain international Steve Hopkins.
After a good drive a well thrown pass by quarterback Newiss gave Gloucester their first 6 points before veteran full back Shaun Griffin used his toughness and guile to run the ball into the end zone for their second touchdown.
The Centurions’ two-point conversion was successful, but the momentum soon started to swing towards the home side as George Baker picked off a Newiss pass to earn possession back for the Storm.
A jarring tackle from Great Britain youth graduate Jayvon Donatien gave Swindon’s rookie wide receiver Lee Francis an introduction to adult American Football, and saw him sidelined for the next few plays as he caught his breath, and the half ended with Gloucester in possession.
Swindon came out firing on all cylinders after the break as a booming kick off from Sam Mendozer saw Gloucester pinned only yards from their own end zone, and the Swindon defence captained by defensive end Dan Thorne smelt blood and forced Gloucester to fumble their punt. Swindon quickly capitalised and full back Phil Bardwell thumped the ball in from three yards for six points.
Another great kick off from Mendozer meant Gloucester found themselves in exactly the same position once again, and this time the punt was deflected out of the back of Gloucester’s end zone for a safety which narrowed the gap to 14-8.
After strong running all day, Swindon running back Malcolm was finally rewarded with a second Swindon touchdown, bringing them even with Gloucester at 14-14 going into the fourth quarter.
Both teams defences stayed strong in the final period, forcing their opponents to go three and out, before Gloucester pounced for their late winner.
Anyone interested in getting involved in the sport can contact coach Steve Bennett on 0788 3096408, or log on to www.swindonstorm.org.uk.
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