Exeter Demons – 18
UWE Bullets – 0
THE Exeter Demons missed out on the BUCS Division One playoffs, but ended the season with a historic win against the UWE Bullets on 22 Feburary. Both teams were already eliminated from the playoffs after the Swansea Titans wrapped up the division title the previous week, defeating the Demons 25-16 in a down-to-the-wire, scrappy game that really could have gone either way.
However, there was a great amount of pride on the line despite there being no playoff place at stake, with both teams fighting to take second place in the division. The Demons, who hadn’t defeated the Bullets since the 2011/12 season, were looking to take revenge on a 62-6 pasting from last year and seal up the best season in the club’s history. The Bullets, who in previous years have consistently made playoff appearances, were out to prove that they were better than their record suggested.
On a cold, windy, rainy and very muddy Sunday afternoon at Duckes Meadows the two teams took to the field for the final game of the season. After two stalled first drives, the Exeter defence began a dominating assault on the UWE backs as Kean Harris forced the ball loose on their second drive and veteran Safety Connor Sealy put the Demons on the board first by returning the fumble to the house. Harris would go on to finish the day with two sacks and tackles in the double digits, but after a failed PAT attempt, the Demons were 6-0 up early on.
The Bullets appeared to have a very limited arsenal, attempting much the same play over and over through-out the game. Failing to spark any sort of a run game, Exeter’s aggressive defensive line regularly found itself in the UWE backfield as Kieran Francis, Mattias Cruz, Josef Habsburg and Jack Howley-Mummery all combined for double digit tackles as the Bullets struggled to get off the ground.
The miserable weather continued to play its part as both teams traded possessions until finally the UWE punter scrambled to recover his own fumbled snap, giving Exeter the ball on the 10 yard line. Two punishing runs from Othniel Lewis and Alex Briggs finally set up the third down touchdown conversion as third year senior Briggs snuck it in from the one. A failed two point conversion put the Demons up 12-0 at the half.
Things only went from bad to worse for the visiting Bullets in the second half, as the Demons’ ever dominant defence continued to pile on the pressure, and found themselves moving backwards more than forwards.
Described as playing ‘the game of his life’ by club President Matt Parish, first year rookie outside linebacker Andrew Schofield had more than just a small part to play in this, as he frequently bombarded the Bullets backfield twice, sacking the quarterback in a single drive and once taking down the ball carrier on the reverse for a devastating loss. Schofield finished a fantastic day with two sacks and more than five tackles.
The final play of the game put the icing on the cake for Exeter. In his last game in charge Demons Head Coach Damon Kirby dialled up Exeter’s most famous play from his infamous single wing formation, and third year veteran Michael Reece squeezed up the middle on the wedge. When the game was all but over, Reece broke from the mass of blockers and would-be tacklers, and sprinted to the end zone to provide the perfect ending for coaches and seniors alike.
Unfortunately, with the new league structure, the Demons miss the Division One play-offs despite their most successful season (six wins, two defeats) in their six year history, and say goodbye to another crop of highly talented seniors. After the game Kirby, announced his retirement, after five years with the club and a long and distinguished Brit-ball career. The Demons and everyone at Exeposé Sport wish him all the best in his retirement.
Lewis Gregory, Sports Teambookmark me