Glads vs Aztecs

GLADIATORS RAVAGED SQUAD SLIPS TO ANOTHER HEAVY DEFEAT - Posted on August 20th, 2014

The end of Colchester Gladiators’ first foray into the top tier of British American football since 1992 came mercifully closer with their final home game of the season ending in another heavy defeat, this time at the hands of the Bristol Aztecs.

The Gladiators’ injury ravaged squad simply did not have the resources to combat the strength and athleticism of the Aztecs and despite playing tough to the end, the 21 man squad could not compete with the # 6 ranked team in the country.

Raul Hit

Any team would struggle to contend with the loss of starting quarterback, three running backs, and three offensive lineman from the offence and two starting defensive linemen, four linebackers and two defensive backs from the defence. With the last running back standing Chris Jackson, cornerback Sam Gennings and safety Dave Kerr also visiting A&E after the game, the prospects continue to be bleak in the run up to their final game, away to the London Olympians on August 17th.

The Aztecs took an early lead, scoring on their first possession but the extra point was missed, and the 6-0 score soon became 14-0 after the Gladiators fumbled their first play away and the visitors made light work of the short field, completing a 19 yard scoring pass, and connecting on the two point conversion.

Bristol wasted no time in adding to their score with a 75 yard catch and run taking the score to 20-0 before the Gladiators had even secured a first down.

Chris Jackson

Running back Chris Jackson put that right with consecutive 18 yard gains but a sack of QB Brandon Slieker forced a punt as the quarter came to a close.

The Gladiators’ defence made some good plays in the second quarter; first Joe Stickings picked off a pass, quickly followed on their next possession by another, from Nick Foxley, coming out of retirement to boost the numbers.

But with the Gladiators’ offence struggling to generate first downs, the defence couldn’t keep Bristol out for ever and they added to their tally with another pass completion and two-pointer to make the half time score 28-0.

It was more of the same in the third quarter with the Aztecs getting an early score on a 47 yard run. A Slieker pass was returned for another score and after a Bristol punt was downed at the two, Slieker was sacked for a two point safety to take the score to 43-0.

Foxley Cut

To add insult to injury, the Aztecs then returned the resultant kick off all the way for another score with the extra point bringing up their half century.

The quarter ended with an exchange of punts but with last recognised running back Jackson being forced to the sideline with a rib injury the Gladiators were forced to take to the air but Bristol’s blanket coverage prevented any progress.

A good stand by the Gladiators’ defence saw Raul Barclay and Sean Chadney knock down passes forcing a Bristol punt but another Colchester interception was returned for a touchdown and the game’s final score.

Joe Stickings

The Gladiators played hard to the end and linebacker Josh Milgate had the last word when he stretched to record their third interception of the Bristol QB on the game’s final play.

 

Head Coach Matt Roberts could not have asked for more from his threadbare squad on the day and said: “It was always going to be a big ask of the players we have left to compete at Bristol’s level but I am immensely proud of the guys who put it on the line for the club today. Without so many players missing, we have not been able to play at the level we anticipated after our great season last year, but it has been a learning experience, and those that remain will be better players going in to next season.

 

“We’ll regroup this week and see what we can put together for our final game of the year, against a very strong and physical Olympians team.”

The Gladiators’ final game of the season is on Sunday 17th August, away to the London Olympians, and will bring to a close a disastrous season, one that could not have gone worse after the euphoria and optimism of the national league championship just twelve months earlier. Injuries are part of the game but the rash of injuries to key players, starting with the injury to Casey Campbell at last year’s final, could not have been anticipated. The club will have to lick its’ wounds, recruit, and regroup for the 2015 season, and prepare for whatever level of football it may be placed into. The Gladiators finished a place above the East Kent Mavericks so may not suffer relegation but with a possible restructure likely, their position will be unclear until the new year.

The Gladiators continue to recruit throughout the off-season, and further information about the Club and contact details for all sections can be found at www.colchestergladiators.com

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