The fourth round of the Emirates American Football League (EAFL) saw leaders Dubai Barracudas beat Al Ain Desert Foxes 30-0 in the first of the matches at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi on Friday.
It was the second shutout in as many games for last season’s Desert Bowl finalists and their third of the season. It leaves them on top of the four-team league with 10 points from four games, followed by Abu Dhabi Wildcats (six from four), Dubai Stallions (four from three) and Al Ain Desert Foxes (zero from three).
Al Ain were unable to capitalise on an early fumble by Barracudas quarterback Zavier Cobb, and although they often pinned the Barracudas deep in their own territory after that, they were no match for the league’s highest-scoring team.
“We’ll keep swinging until the end of the season. We’ve tried to take advantage of field position as another form of defense,” Al Ain head coach Johnny Sharp said.
“We’re taking advantage of inexperience in certain situations to catch teams off guard. Dubai has had the same system and quarterback for pretty much three years, so they’ve been able to create consistency.”
Dubai led 16-0 at halftime and coach Kyle Jordan opted to rest some of his starters during the second half. With back-up quarterback Milos Dimitrijevic on, the third quarter ended 24-0.
The visitors rounded off the game with an element of trickery, as yet another long drive culminated in Dimitrijevic finding Zavier Cobb – more accustomed to throwing touchdowns than catching them – in the back of the endzone.
“We had to prepare for the unknown today,” Jordan said. “Coach Sharp has been creative all season and you’re never quite sure what you’re going to encounter. We had to be alert the whole game.
“Once again I’m proud of my team, it wasn’t a faultless performance but we were able to give a lot of players some time on the field.”
The second of the weekend’s games proved a happy homecoming for the Abu Dhabi Wildcats as they overcame the previously-unbeaten Dubai Stallions 8-0.
Following some disappointing performances this term, Wildcats’ coach Tony Robinson had publicly demanded more from his players, and they put recent disappointments behind them and were comfortably the better team after a scoreless first half.
They started off the third period by opening the scoring from a safety following a blocked punt in the Stallion’s end.
The Wildcats then produced the play of the game to put the result beyond any doubt. Backed up at their own 25-yard line, running back Vivaldi Tulysse evaded several tackles on his way to a 75-yard touchdown run, the longest the EAFL had seen this season.
“I know what football culture is like and developing a winning mentality is a process,” Robinson said. “It’s going to take some time. I believe in leading by example and I expect the same in return from my players on the field.
“Actually the guys were excited to play at home for a change, knowing they haven’t got a 90-minute drive back home.”
The coach of 2015 Desert Bowl champions accepted his team was beaten by a better team on the day.
“We approach each game with meticulous precision, but overall, we aren’t executing as a team,” Stallions’ coach Anthony Daniels said.
“We were able to move the ball in the first half but turnovers killed us. In the second half they adjusted well and we didn’t.
“We’ll work on fine-tuning the offence in practice to put us in a position where we can execute.”
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