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09.05.2007 Coventry Cassidy Jets

From Worst to First!

In May 2005 the Coventry Cassidy Jets were ranked dead last in British American Football having lost every game in 2004. Just 2 years later they sit proudly on top of British Gridiron, having knocked off the reigning National Champion London Olympians in a thriller at the Ricoh Arena.

From Worst to First
(c) Coventry Jets
From Worst to First
(c)Coventry Jets

It was a high-octane, pulsating affair with momentum changes throughout the game. The Jets dominated the first half and but for penalties would have had an even more commanding lead than the 20-6 they held, with three Jets ‘touchdowns’ called back for holding.

Following early exchanges of punts the Jets were first on the board with a 4-yard touchdown by Steve Coles, which ended the first quarter with the home team holding a 6-0 lead. The Olympians then put together a sustained drive of their own, capped by a 14 yard reception by Ian Jacquet.

Tied up at 6 points apiece the Jets quickly responded. Jets QB Chris Foster launched a bomb to former Olympian Jeremy Simms, who beat the coverage to skip into the end zone untouched on a 55-yard reception. 12-6 to Coventry. The Jets defense then stuffed the Olympians running game, with Neil Edwards leading tackler on the day, and the Jets had the ball back again. With the first half coming to a close, the Jets used their timeouts wisely and set up a pass to Mark Cohen from 15-yards. 20-6 at the half and the Jets seemingly in control. Foster would finish the day 12 of 21 attempts for 210 yards, 3 TD’s and 1 interception.

However, the Olympians made some half time adjustments and dominated the 3rd quarter. On their first drive they appeared stalled at third and long but a 50-yard bomb by Aaron Griffith to Andy Boyle reduced the Jets lead to 20-13. The momentum had shifted and the Jets offense began to misfire. The Olympians got the ball back and the Jets defense made some crucial mistakes, allowing the London team to convert a 1st and 35 and, crucially hitting the O’s punter late to extend the drive that ultimately led to Junior Price tying the game at 20-20.

The tension was now enormous but the Jets again took control in the 4th quarter. MVP Jeremy Simms made a 44-yard game-winning catch in double coverage to hand the lead back to the Jets at 27-20 and finish his day on 3 catches for 102 yards. The Olympians offense couldn’t respond and punted the ball back to the Jets. The Jets ground game, which averaged 7 yards a carry throughout the game, took over and they ate up the clock. With 4 minutes left to play Tony Perkins broke tackles and was headed to the end zone for the score that would have ended the contest but a superb Olympians tackle stripped the ball on the 4-yard line and the Olympians recovered the ball. Again they punted and again the Jets rushing game chewed up those precious seconds. With 25 seconds to go the Jets had a first down and the Olympians no time outs left. However, it wasn’t over just yet! Instead of taking a knee to end the game, inexplicably Foster went deep with a pass aimed at Jeremy Simms, which was underthrown and picked off by the Olympians. The game was still alive. ?? found Palumbo at the Jets 15 and with 6 seconds to go they had one last shot. Deep in the end zone an Olympian receiver was open and ?? found him. With one foot in bounds he juggled the ball and desperately tried to control it, almost in slow motion he lost control and as the ball finally fell to the floor the crowd erupted and the Jets had won…just!

The Jets now improve to a 2-0 start to the season, extending their domestic unbeaten run to 27-games and perhaps signalling the end of the domination of British American Football teams based in the south of England. The Jets now take their overall 30-game unbeaten run to Austria this weekend in a European Cup qualifying decider with the Cinneplex Blue Devils. The Devils are ranked #10 in Europe and are firm favourites to end the Jets winning streak, however the British team will go into the game full of confidence with the win over the Olympians in their back pocket.

Jets Head Coach, Gerry McManus, said: “Today was a great win for our club. It was a landmark occasion for our organisation. On the field we out gained the Olympians 396 to 196 yards on offense, which is an excellent performance. Now we head over to Austria keen to continue to learn more and have some fun. The Blue Devils come from the most powerful league in Europe and we’ll have our work cut out, but this is what it’s all about. Big games bring out the best in big players…and they don’t get much bigger than this.”

European Federation of American Football