Sunday 26th May 2019 at East Essex Sabres, Benfleet
The Devils headed to Benfleet in the first of back to back away games, keen to improve on the two wins notched so far this season against a Sabres side, who had a record of one win, a draw and a loss this season.
The Devils kicked off after the Sabres won the coin toss and decided to receive, starting the game on their own 26 yard line.
The Devils Defence showed their intentions early, putting pressure on the Sabres Offensive line and stopping the Sabres first drive on a 3 and out, Defensive Lineman Luca Ferrara and Line Backer Ed Bowling forcing a sack and loss of 10 yards on the play. The punt would allow the Devils offence to start from the 50 yard line.
It would seem that the Sabres Defensive unit where in an equally boyant mood forcing the Devils to a loss of two and a punt back the Sabres. Despite a clean snap from Long Snapper Chris Miller, pressure forced punter Adam Jones to abandon the punt, and with 4 Sabres in the back field the GridIron opened up, allowing Jones to secure a first down and add a further 15 yards. An offensive flag however would take the Devils back, cancelling out the additional gain.
The Devils offence, unable to move the chains further would have to punt back to the Sabres.
Sabres looked to their run game, a big push from their offensive line gave the running back a good gap to work with, but Linebacker Thomas Mason spotted the danger, getting across to make the tackle for a short gain. Flags from the back and line judge would call offensive holding on the Sabres right tackle, negating the positive play and forcing the Sabres onto their own 3 yard line. Looking long on 3rd down, Sabres QB took a shot toward his wide receiver on the right. Safety Ben Rayner, (back to full health after a terrible leg/ankle break last year) reacted instinctively to slip in-between the receiver and in-flight ball to force an interception. This gave the Devils a great shot just outside the RedZone, however the offence failed to fire on all cylinders and despite going for it on 4th down couldn’t capitalize.
In an almost replica of their previous outing, the Devils defence took advantage of a fumble in the back field to force the Sabres offence backwards before a 18 yard throw to the right hand side was meet by Linebacker Edward Bowling, jumping smartly beyond the tall Sabres receiver for another Interception on the Sabres 25 yard line. The Devils Defence wouldnt get much of a break though, despite a strong gain from a run on 1st down, the Devils offence would fumble the handoff on second and loose possession. A quick three and out thanks to further pressure from a boisterous Devils front line would bring the end of the first quarter
The Second quarter began in the same vein as the first, with both the Sabres and Devils defences holding offenses to minimum gains.
WR Adam Jones made a smart catch across the middle of the field for a first down, but with free space ahead of him he was able to pick up an additional 15 before being thrown heavily to the ground out of bounds. The Devils worked the territory, with Tight End Charlie Keohane picking up 8 yards before Quarterback Harris Todd took off toward the sideline on 4th down and 2 to pick up another set of downs for the Devils Offence in the Sabres Red Zone. The joy was short lived, as the Sabres where able to jump on a loose ball which had been snapped into the path of the Tight End in motion.
The Defence sensed an opportunity to push the Sabres back further and a run play was quickly swallowed up in the backfield thanks to pressure from Lineman James Sambandan and Luca Ferrara. On third and long from their own 7 yard line, the Sabres looked to run the ball, but the QB spotted danger from persuing Lineman Regan Cashman and, peeling right, the Sabres QB looked all but set to be tackled for a safety by Corner Will Bridegman who was unceremoniously pushed in the back and blocked out of the play. With a flag in the air for the block, Linebacker Ed Bowling finished the play off with a strong tackle to halt the QB and the referees awarded a safety to the Devils Defence, 2-0.
The Sabres offence found some rhythm on their next possession, enabling them to creep up to the 45 yard line. Another strong stop from the Devils Defence forced a punt and gave the Devils the ball back on the 35. Running Back Matt Ward picked up a quick 9 yards on a toss play before QB Harris Todd secured the next set of downs. QB Todd took a step back into the pocket on 1st down and launched the ball 30 yards downfield toward WR Adam Jones who had beaten the coverage and had the endzone in front of him, but unfortunately took his eyes off the ball at the last moment and spilled the ball – an uncharacteristic drop from the Veteran receiver.
QB Todd then looked to his Slot receiver Taylor Lawson on his left on a quick out route. With a clean catch and room in front, Lawson bullied his way through three defenders for another 1st down.
A perfectly executed screen pass from the Sabres 36 yard line saw the Devils Offensive line bear down on the Sabres secondary, giving Running back Matt Ward the perfect lane behind them and shoot back across field with 4 Sabres in hot pursuit but to no avail – Matt Ward scoring his first touchdown for the Devils. With the extra point good, the Devils took a 9-0 lead going into the half.
Half Time – Devils 9 – Sabres 0