DUBAI // This time, the Dubai Stallions left no doubt. They played not only to win but to dominate.
Stung by narrow defeats in the first two Emirates American Football League championship games, the Stallions overwhelmed the Dubai Barracudas 30-6 on Friday night at Dubai Sports City. No late heroics or individual brilliance from an opponent were going to keep them from winning Desert Bowl III.
Davion Miller ran for 84 yards and three touchdowns, and the Stallions did not yield a point until three minutes were left in the game as they powered to a comfortable victory.
“We were tired of losing the Desert Bowl,” coach Anthony Daniels said as his team celebrated on the field. We were good in every area. We limited our mistakes and played up to our capabilities, and that was the difference. We played a whole game for the first time.”
“We know what it feels like to lose this game,” said Miller, the Stallions running back. “No way we were going to lose this one.
“We wanted to prove to everybody we’re the best team in the league, and we did that.”
The game was over at half time. The Stallions got two points for a safety when Trent Blackburn blocked a punt by Michael Andersen in the end zone late in the first quarter.
Their first touchdown came on a 23-yard pass from Chris Wentzel to Jeff Nicolson, the tall Scotsman, with 5:15 left in the half, and they added a 2-yard scoring run by Miller just before the break to take a 16-0 lead.
Andre Sommersell, the Stallions linebacker and former NFL player who was the team’s coach in their first two seasons, was convinced his team would win an hour before kick-off.
“Before the game, even, I was confident we would win because we had our whole team together for the first time, and I didn’t think the Barracudas would be able to stay with us,” he said.
He conceded the championship was largely won in the semi-finals of the play-offs, when the Stallions ousted the two-time defending champion Abu Dhabi Wildcats, 21-12. “We and Abu Dhabi are the strongest teams in the league, and whoever won that game was going to win the Desert Bowl,” Sommersell said.
Troy Jordan, who led the Barracudas to the best record during the regular season, conceded his team were thoroughly outplayed, but the coach added, “I don’t believe we’re as bad as we looked.”
“We couldn’t get anything going. We tried to run the ball, and they stopped that, and when we went to the pass that wasn’t working either,” Jordan said. “Their defence played a very strong game.”
The Stallions put the game out of reach with second-half touchdown runs of 5 and 2 yards. The Barracudas avoided a shutout when Rich Stead caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Zaveir Cobb with three minutes left to play.
Cobb, the key player in the Barracudas’ rise from 1-7 two seasons ago to 6-2 ahead of the title game, had a rough outing, completing 6-of-13 passes for 76 yards and an interception. The Barracudas managed only 9 yards rushing.
The game again showcased the diversity in a league that is only 43 per cent American. Players from Iraq, the United Kingdom, Canada and Turkey played key roles, and the accents on the sidelines were often anything but American.
After it was over, Samer Omar, a defensive lineman for the Stallions, told Jordan, “I respect all your guys. Your players are men.”
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