Wildcats maintain unbeaten run in EAFL
The Abu Dhabi Wildcats maintained their standing as the only unbeaten team in the Emirates American Football League (EAFL) as they ground out a heated 12-6 win over the Al Ain Desert Foxes.
It was a game for the purists at a windswept Sevens Stadiums on Friday as the grid-iron action returned for 2017. Robby Lopez got the capital outfit off to the perfect start, finding the end zone from 3 yards within the first five minutes.
Hopes this would herald a barn burner soon ebbed away as defence reigned supreme and the laundry was repeatedly thrown on the pitch.
It took until deep inside the final quarter for running back Vivaldi Tulysse to rumble over from 2 yards for the Wildcats’ other score.
The much-improved Foxes had beaten champions Dubai Barracudas last time out to end a four-year wait for a win, but they left it far too late produce a response this time as rotating quarterback Jay Hall dashed over from 1 yard for his team’s only touchdown.
“We played well considering we weren’t able to make contact at all this week for practice,” said Wildcats coach Tony Robinson, whose side have won all three games this season by a 60-33 combined score.
“The surface that we were given to practice on, unfortunately because of some horse show in Abu Dhabi…
“We couldn’t push the issue and make contact. It actually turned out better than expected, as we hadn’t really made contact in more than a month.
“They [Al Ain] feed off their coach. Coach [Johnny] Sharp is a spirited guy and they feed off it, we feed off it, and you know it is just one of those things. I think in this league our two biggest rivals or teams which bring that out in us the most are Al Ain and Barracudas. It was a win, we’ll take it. But it wasn’t pretty or our best football.”
Lopez came to the forefront, forcing a key fumble and producing an interception to make it an all-round performance. The running back chose to highlight the value of hard work to his display.
He said: “I just wanted to come out here and help the team win, coming out every day to train and do what we need to do to win.
“It was definitely an experience. But we’ve just got to keep our cool and do what we do – play Wildcat football. We have to keep our composure and keep doing what we got to do. Keep our responsibilities and come out and work every day.”
BARRACUDAS OFF THE MARK IN REUNION
Dubai Barracudas recorded the first win of their fitful Emirates American Football league (EAFL) title defence at the third attempt as they saw off cross-town rivals the Stallions.
Running back Luke Norrey and wide receiver Daniel Viranyi scored twice for the defending champions on Friday as they saw off former offensive coordinator Brett Turek’s charges 32-12, with Milos Dimitrijevic getting the other score.
Viranyi’s efforts were particularly memorable, producing a 78-yard reception from quarterback Zavier Cobb and a 73-yard kick-off return.
“We had success up front with the offensive line,” said Barracudas coach Kyle Jordan. “We got off the edges with our running back and our throw game worked. It all came together, although there were some mistakes we’ve got to clean up.”
Turek reflected ruefully when asked about the experience of playing the side he helped claim last season’s Desert Bowl.
He said: “It wasn’t weird. It was good, it was what I thought it would be. I’m not happy with the outcome. But, I knew the Cudas would come ready to play.”