The Lancashire Wolverines halted the Coventry Jets in a fiery affair in Blackburn yesterday, as they continued to reign at the top of the Division One North.
As they have all season, the home side came out all guns blazing with a great return by Chris Hearle setting them up in good field position. The Jets’ defence couldn’t stop the run and pass combination that ended with quarterback Jack Barton hitting tight end Rick Cole in the end zone for 6. Coventry stepped it up on special teams and Dominic Olney blocked the PAT.
Up stepped Joe Brammer but the Lancashire defence, and particularly good pressure from Stephen Donaldson-Ellison, stopped the Coventry offence dead, forcing them to punt.
Barton couldn’t repeat his opening drive though, throwing an interception to Olney.
The Jets began to pick up momentum but stalled again in the red zone, turning the ball over on downs.
It was then the game began to turn a little contentions. An air horn sounded from the Jets’ sideline each time Barton went to snap the ball for Lancashire. In credit to the referee and Coventry’s coaching staff though, they stamped out the issue immediately, but it didn’t stop the game getting edgy, as Christian Faccin recovered a fumbled snap to Brammer for Lancashire on the next drive.
Heading into the second quarter and Coventry began to fall apart. Penalties began to drive them back and their players and coaches were clearly getting frustrated.
Lancashire capitalised, as Barton hit Cole with a great pass over the middle to move the chains before receiver Neil Sullivan gratefully met a spiral in the back corner of the end zone. The PAT was hit again by Coventry’s special teams but had enough legs to go over for the extra point. 13-0 Lancashire.
The Black Swarm defence stood tall again on the next drive with Sam Bloomfield stripping running back Anthony Perkins of the ball and recovering the fumble. The offence couldn’t capitalise and punted back to the Jets, pinning the away side deep.
Bloomfield again proved effective as he got into the backfield to force a safety. The Wolverines led 15-0.
With less than two minutes before the half Brammer came out slinging with a couple of good completions. However a short pass a couple of plays later fell straight to Lancashire’s Lee Horrocks who returned the pick for 6 – PAT blocked by Bless Ango.
21-0 down at the half could have clinched the game but in the third quarter Coventry looked a different side. They came out more organised and their defence stepped up.
Thomas Singleton-Wells grabbed an interception on a Barton pass attempt. The offence couldn’t capitalise but the Jets’ defence brought their first points of the day with Oli Campbell bringing down Hearle in his own end zone for a safety.
The Jets offence finally began to click. Brammer found a couple of good completions before a fine pass to Sam Hyde got them 6 points. A fake field goal attempt was then converted by Singleton-Wells who ran well to the pylon. At 21-10 the Wolverines began to wobble. They couldn’t move the ball and the Jets’ offence was on a roll.
Donaldson-Ellison got to Brammer for the sack but some fine running from Perkins, who had a massive game, got them in a good position early in the 4th quarter.
Brammer then hit Olney in the end zone with a good pass over the middle. With the PAT converted the game was well and truly on. 21-17.
The Wolverines punted the ball back to Coventry but then forced a turnover on downs to get their offence back on the field. However running back Chris Littler sent them back with a deserved unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and they had to punt again.
With a little over a minute and no timeouts the Jets had to drive effectively, and they did just that, as Brammer hit his wide outs, who responded by getting out of bounds and stopping the clock.
With a little under 40 seconds left they were knocking on the door but good coverage by Lancashire allowed Donaldson-Ellison to get into the backfield again and bring down Brammer.
Tragedy then struck for the Jets as they hurried up the play only for Brammer to be picked off by Greg Freeman and for the Wolverines to kneel out the game.
Game report and photography courtesy Nathan James Sharrocks. www.dblcoverage.com