Having dispatched the Eagles in our home town, the trip to Bedford for the reverse rubber was looked upon with relish by one and all in the Cardinals camp. Unfortunately, that meant the depleted travelling squad took their opponents far too lightly, and the proud Ouse Valley team had revenge in mind.
Playing their first home game, and sitting at 0-2 after being pipped by Norwich the weekend before, the Eagles numbers were bolstered and they looked far from battle weary. As in the first match, the early exchanges were sloppy, with penalties on both sides. The hosts settled quickest and took a 6-0 lead early in the second quarter. A long pass down the sidelines result into the endzone resulted in a touchdown. That lead was doubled when an incomplete lateral pass was scooped up and run back for a second touchdown on the next series. Both extra point attempts failed, but there was fire in the bellies of the hosts. The teams exchanged possessions as halftime approached, with interceptions from both sides quarterbacks. Veteran Nate Hamer set up the Cardinals with a fine return that was capitalised on when Jordan "Red" Vaughan scored his first ever TD from close range.
6-12 at halftime and the Cardinals were only one score behind, however injuries to the offensive line began causing disruption and the game was in the balance. Having begun so poorly, the travelling Suffolk men regrouped, and the second half improved. Hayden Clark recovered a fumble as the defence flexed their muscles. That set up the offence and QB Matt Agate threw a beautiful long ball to Rico Balshaw to level things at 12 apiece. The attempted PAT was blocked, and even worse, returned for an Eagles two point score!
Both sides game it their all now, and repeatedly went for glory on 4th down plays. Stand in running back Mitch Melanaphy sprinted around the left end for the Cardinals go ahead score, and the defence resolutely held off any thoughts of a comeback - racking up no fewer than eleven QB sacks along the way!!!
It was a lesson learned for the Cardinals, underestimating any opponent can be a costly mistake, but on this occasion the team showed guts and heart to wrestle back the victory - it is with some relief the Cardinals are 2-0 and now look to improve against higher league opposition.
Written by Ian Girling
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