Ahead of final EAFL round, defence and confidence the difference for dominating Dubai Barracudas

Ali Khaled reports on the Emirates American Football League as it nears the end of its regular season.

The Dubai Barracudas finally exacted a measure of revenge for defeat in Desert Bowl III with a 28-6 victory against the Dubai Stallions at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi in week 9 of the Emirates American Football League (EAFL).

With the victory, the Barracudas guaranteed themselves first place in the regular season standings, while Abu Dhabi Wildcats’ 16-0 defeat of Al Ain Desert Foxes means the Stallions slip to third place in defence of their title with one game week left.

“We left some points on the field out there today, but we never stopped fighting,” said Barracudas’ head coach Kyle Jordan. “The guys were working hard, hustling to the ball and you could see they wanted this game. The big thing is that the team is playing with confidence. It’s confidence I haven’t seen in my four years with the organisation. That makes a big difference in games.”

The Barracudas front seven applied consistent pressure on opposing quarterback Chris Wentzel, who was sacked four times and fumbled twice on his return to the defending champions.

As they have done all season, the Barracudas shared the offensive load, with running back Luke Norrey notching close to 100 yards on the day and a three-yard touchdown run. Quinton Collins also got in on the action, powering in from two yards out to extend his team’s lead.

The Stallions responded courtesy of a nine-yard touchdown pass from Wentzel to Gary Stillman.

“It was great to be back and playing again, but to be more in sync we need more reps, which we’ll work on at practice,” said Wentzel.

Any thoughts of a comeback were halted as first Barracudas tight end Rich Stead snared a 20-yard pass from Zavier Cobb before the quarterback completed the scoring by sneaking in from a yard out mid-way through the fourth quarter.

“As a team we need to come together and play better, especially on offence,” said Stallions’ head coach Anthony Daniels. “We are not where we expected to be with one week of the regular season remaining, but we have the personnel to change that.”

In the second game of the round, Abu Dhabi Wildcats beat a spirited Al Ain Desert Foxes 16-0 to climb to second in the standings and leave their opponent bottom of the table.

“I think that as a team we are still taking steps towards learning what it takes to win,” said Wildcats’ head coach Tony Robinson. “I am excited about our progress thus far and I have learned a lot about this team. We’re in second place now, but I know that as a team we are better than our results and our record show,”

After a morale boosting performance last week against the reigning champions Dubai Stallions, the Foxes once again showed their character and mettle, pushing the Wildcats all the way.

They fell behind early, Al Ain’s defence kept the Wildcats’ offence fairly quiet for the majority of the evening, with the Wildcats taking only a slim 8-0 lead at the end of the second quarter. There would be no addition to the score in the third quarter.

“We are in a rebuilding year and with that comes a lot of figuring each other out and building trust with teammates and coaches,” said Desert Foxes’ head coach Johnny Sharp. “My team is upbeat. We went into the fourth quarter down by only eight points, but it’s a learning curve. We need to learn how to finish games.”

Having registered their first points of the season in the 16-6 reverse against the Stallions in the last round, Al Ain were unable to reproduce that’s coring form. The Wildcats finally gave themselves some breathing room when Jermaine Lattimore tossed a five-yard touchdown to Tulysse to secure a 16-0 win and sole possession of second place on the EAFL ladder.​