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28.04.2011 Coventry Jets
Cougars’ American quarterback, ex UCLA Bruin, Kevin Craft put in an incredible performance which had the Jets reeling from the opening kick off. In what turned out to be a masterclass in running a spread offense, Craft picked apart the Jets secondary all day, ending with 27 out of 33 pass attempts for 434 yards and 3 touchdowns. When Craft was forced out of his pocket by the Jets defense, his agility and vision was outstanding.
Having lost two weeks previously against the Sollerod Gold Diggers in Denmark, the Cougars started the game like a freight train, taking the ball in to the endzone 4 times in the first quarter alone – Craft engineered the first drive with great precision and Sebastien Torel ran in from 1 yard for the touchdown. The extra point was blocked in what turned out to be one of the Jets’ lone highlights of the 1st quarter.
Craft showed his fantastic vision by throwing a pinpoint crossfield pass to Mickael Serre for a 45 yard touchdown. After this, under pressure Jets’ quarterback Dominic Olney, who became the first Coventrian to start at the position in the club’s history, threw a wayward pass to the right which was returned for a touchdown by Cougars cornerback Benjamin Simon.
With star quarterback and Offensive Co-ordinator Lorne Sam unavailable for the game with little notice, Olney was well and truly thrown in at the deep end. With just two weeks to learn the playbook and the position, the converted cornerback fought hard all day long and gave an admirable account of himself against formidable opposition. However, the victory was more or less sealed by the end of the first quarter when his opposite number threw another touchdown pass, this time for 61 yards to Mickael Serre, leaving the Jets in a 28-0 hole at the end of the first period.
The Cougars heaped on more misery in the second quarter with a 24 yard field goal and further touchdowns for Craft on a 4 yard weaving run and Johan Vernes who capitalised on another interception by Olney with a 4 yard run to put the hosts effectively out of sight by half time with a 45-0 advantage. The second half was more positive for the Jets with Olney connecting with a few of his receivers, whilst the running backs finally gained some yards through the big and powerful defensive line of the Cougars.
As the evening bore on in front of 1000 vocal Parisians the Cougars once again showed their class and offensive prowess with another touchdown for Craft on a 3 yard pass to tight end Cesar Hebel. Teddy Valentine and Isaac Amoako both scored on short runs to cap the hosts scoring. With a little under two minutes left, the Jets, known for their never say die attitude, were led downfield by Olney. Kofi Campbell capped off the drive with a 1 yard run for a touchdown. Veteran kicker Alan Steel kicked the extra point shortly after which the referee blew the final whistle.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the visitors as they were boosted by standout performances from some of their youngsters. 18 year old wide receiver Stefan Rowden was outstanding on kick returns all day, on two occasions almost breaking the last tackle for touchdowns. Josh Hughes, another young receiver, playing in his first senior game, made a fantastic catch (the longest Jets reception of the day) after which he was pummelled from behind but maintained possession even though he was very nearly knocked out.
Jeremy Simms chipped in with a performance of his usually high standards, making an incredible catch with his tiptoes on the pitch and the ball at least two yards over the sideline. Defensively Charlie Marper, another rookie who stepped up to the mantel, had a great game alongside fellow Yorkshireman Jake Skelton, who capped his first senior appearance with 4 solo tackles and an interception. Leading tacklers for the Jets were veterans Wale Oyemade and Pete Cleaver, who also forced a fumble and made a great tip on a Craft pass.
Despite the lopsided scoreline, Head Coach Gerry McManus was upbeat about the Jets performance “it was our first game of the season, due to various problems we never even managed a preseason game this year and I am extremely proud of the team I brought over today. We had a great bunch of players today who played their hearts out for the jersey – we all play this game to face the very best Europe has to offer and these young players will have learned a massive amount today. I can hardly remember a better team spirit, and, watching Dominic Olney, our Coventry born and bred quarterback step up, and never quit was inspiring for all of my players and coaches alike. We will be a better team for this defeat and look forward very much to our home game at the Butts Stadium against the Sollerod Gold Diggers on May 7th.”
The Jets head into their match with the Danish Champions looking to arrest a four game slide in European action dating back to 2008. All of those defeats have been on the road though and McManus and his young team will be looking to maintain a 100% home record against foreign opponents. For more details on the Coventry Jets and to find out how you can be part of their 2011 campaign, please visit their website www.covjets.com or follow them on Twitter www.twitter.com/CoventryJets.
Notes to editor:
• Formed in 2003, as the Coventry Jaguars, the Jets changed their name in 2005 as they went on to secure back to back promotions into the BAFA CL Premier Division
• The Jets secured their first, and so far only, National Championship in 2008
• Their current home is the 4000 seat Butts Park Arena in Spon End, Coventry
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