The Colchester Gladiators got back to winning ways on Sunday with a hard fought victory against
the plucky East Kent Mavericks. In an entertaining game, the Gladiators running game led the
team to their third win of the season and keep their playoff hopes alive.
After their rash of injuries at the quarterback position, Jake Wickham took over as play caller, the
fourth player to take snaps from centre this year. He finished with a creditable 9/19 for 108 yards
and two touchdowns, but the real stars of the show were running backs Sam Morton and Eddie
Collison, who combined for 250 yards, both players topping 100 yards on the day.
The game started well for the visitors with Matt Selby making a stop on fourth down, his first
game in ten years, but a lost fumble turned the ball back over to the Mavs.
However, Dave Kerr was on hand to pick off an errant throw by the home QB and Morton tore off
a 31 yard run to take the ball deep into the Kent half. Collison took the ball to the one but strong
defence prevented the Gladiators from crossing the line, forcing them to try a field goal, but a
bad snap prevented the scoring opportunity and the Mavs capitalised on their next drive.
On 3 rd and 15, the home QB scrambled for a first down and strong running brought up a first
dwon on the Gladiators' 11, from where the Mavs opened the scoring with a clever reverse. The
extra two point play was good to give them an 8-0 advantage.
As the second quarter began, the Gladiators turned the ball over again, in good field position, but
their defence got them back in the game with another fourth down stop.
This time the Gladiators took advantage as Wickham found huge tight end Aaron Martin for 16
yards and Sam Gennings for a first down before launching a perfect pass to Gennings who made
no mistake, completing the reception for 32 yards and the touchdown. Nathan Brown's extra
point brought Colchester within one at 7-8.
It didn't take long for the Gladiators to take the lead when Curtis Bourke picked up a fumble and
rumbled 37 yards for a touchdown. Brown's point after extended the lead to 14-8, which they
took in to half time.
The Gladiators received the ball to start the second half and set the tone with an impressive drive
behind Morton and Collison, picking up four first downs, taking the ball to the four, but good
defence again brought up fourth down and head coach Luke Box called on Brown to try for the
three pointer which he duly converted for a 17-8 score.
Both offences were now firing and the Mavericks hit back with an eight play, 52 yard drive,
finishing with a six yard scoring run, and the extra point brought them to within two points at 15-
A 50 yard run by Wickham set the Gladiators up for a swift reply and Tom Blum completed the
drive with a six yard run. The PAT hit the post but the Gladiators had a cushion, leading 23-15,
going in to the final period.
Ian Hardy recovered a fumble on the next Kent drive and Wickham found Gennings again for a
touchdown from11 yards out, boosting their lead to 14, at 29-15.
The Mavs were not going down without a fight and on their first play after the kickoff, connected
on a 66 yard pass, taking the ball to the four. They made no mistake, two plays later, forcing the
ball over from a yard out. The extra point brought them back to within seven at 29-22.
The Gladiators were forced to punt, giving the Mavs an opportunity to drive downfield to tie the
game but a Josh Mews interception ended the possession, however Colchester good not add to
their tally when Brown was unable to convert a field goal attempt.
Matt Selby intercepted the Mavericks' QB on their next possession and this time the Gladiators
did take advantage when Troy Shelton went over from a yard out. The extra point again hit the
upright but the Gladiators were clear, leading 35-22 with only two minutes to go.
The Mavericks did mount one final drive but were not able to threaten the scoreboard, leaving
the Gladiators worthy winners. With four weeks to the next game, the Gladiators will be hoping
some injuries will heal up, putting them in better shape for the home rematch against the same
Mavericks, at the Corporal Budd VC Gymnasium, Berechurch Road, on Sunday 1 st July, kick off