Sunday 16th June 2019 against the East Essex Sabres at Pound Lane, Norwich
The Devils returned home to defend Hell’s Gate after a successful and undefeated away campaign and with a hard earned draw against the Cardinals two weeks before, the Devils where keen to get back into action and welcomed the East Essex Sabres to the Gridiron.
American Football can be somewhat unpredictable from one game to the other, much like the weather pre kick off, which graced the teams with a deluge during warm ups. As the teams lined up for kick off though, the clouds parted and graced the hardy crowd with sunshine.
The Devils would choose to receive after the Sabres lost the coin toss but would start their first drive on the 10 yard line after a penalty for offside on kick off. The drive didn’t last long – 3 and out and a punt back to the Sabres would leave the Defence to stand at the Devils 32 yard line.
A quick pass followed by a run would gain the first down for the Sabres and leave them 2 yards inside the Redzone. Defensive end Regan Cashman would swamp an outside run on the new set of downs for a loss of 4. A false start would give the Defence a little more room to breath on 3rd down. The Sabres QB would look for a pass, but with the Devils coverage swamping advancing receivers and his offensive line collapsing, he would bolt to the sideline with no gain to bring up 4th down. Sabres would punt back to the Devils in an attempt to pin the Offence inside their own 10 yards but a touchback would set up a new drive from the 20 yard line.
What would become a theme of the day for both offenses, the Devils would struggle to find the first down marker despite small gains for another 3 and out. Adam Jones would get a clean punt away from his 20 yard line which would take a bounce on the 50 yard and kindly roll in the Devils favour down to the 33 yard line for the Devil’s Defence to take over.
Defensive Lineman Ben Hart and Regan Cashman would force the offensive line to collapse toward a back peddling Sabres QB to hustle towards the sideline, a gaggle of Defensive players bearing down to sack the QB for a loss of 12 – Ben Hart first to make first contact to bring him down. Two quick changes in possession would end the 1st Qtr and the game scoreless.
The Devils offence would begin to gain some rhythm to start the new quarter, utilising the power run to gain 8 yards before Quaterback Harris Todd would find Adam Jones 35 yards downfield, leaping into the air between the Sabres Corner and Safety, turning his body athletically to reach for the ball but as it neared his hands, the Sabres defensive player shoved Jones’s chest to force him out of bounds with no attempt to play the ball. Yellow flags rain down faster than the pre match downpour for Pass interference and the Devils advance to their 37 yard line.
Celebration for the gain would be short lived, despite some strong running from Matt Ward, the Sabres defence would apply pressure to break the offensive line on 3rd and 4 and force QB Harris Todd to scramble and look downfield toward an open reciever but a short pass would bring up 4th and another turnover on downs for the Devils offence.
The Sabres offence would leave the field after just three plays, the Devils Defence quickly shutting down the run play with Linebacker Chris Waterhouse taking advantage of a huge gap to swallow the Sabres running back on 3rd down and knock the ball loose. Lineman James Sambandan would react first to dive on the ball and give the Devils offence great field position just 3 yards from the Redzone.