The Exeter Demons suffered a heartbreaking 20-14 loss in overtime against the Bristol Barracuda on Sunday 20th November, leaving them at 1-1 for the BUAFL season. Having won the “Team of the Year” award the previous season, the Barracuda have established themselves as one of the top teams in the South West Atlantic Conference.
They started the game strongly, with several missed tackles allowing the Bristol running back to reach the sideline and cut up field into the end zone. The point after was blocked by the Exeter special teams unit and at the end of the first quarter the Demons trailed 6-0. The Demons’ offense was also finding yards hard to come by against the Barracuda, despite showing much more discipline with far fewer penalties. This score line would not last long though; Exeter had failed to register a score against the ‘Cuda in each of the two previous seasons, with their 3-0 record being broken at Bristol last year.
Third year Quarterback Finlay Brown was not going to let this run continue. The Demons offense put together a long drive which ended with Brown scoring in similar fashion as he did against Swansea the previous week, evading several would-be Bristol tacklers and cruising in for the score. The successful conversion meant that at halftime Exeter led 7-6. The second half became a battle for field position, as both defenses stiffened and gave up yardage sparingly. The Demons unit was bolstered by the return of defensive tackle Fred Callaghan, who had been absent for the opening day win in Wales. He was constantly around the ball, as was Sam Burden, Eugene Agidee and Josh Berg.
The Demons defensive backs unit did not give up a completion during the entire game, with the likes of Calum Edser, Will Hopcroft and Lewis Gregory sticking tightly to the ‘Cuda receivers. The deadlock was broken by Bristol on the ground, as the opposing back went straight through the heart of the Exeter defense for a touchdown. The two-point conversion meant that the Demons had one more drive to try to save the game.
Brown engineered another long drive, behind an offensive line that is becoming an efficient and savvy group. Michael Goodacre ploughed over from several yards out and with the resulting extra point the game was headed for overtime. The Demons failed to score on the first possession and it appeared they were going to get a second chance, as Bristol failed to complete a long fourth down pass. However, a roughing the passer penalty kept the drive alive for the ‘Cuda and on the very next play, the Bristol running back broke free and ran into the end zone for the winning score.
The Demons were understandably downhearted after such a close loss but have proven that they can compete with the best teams in the division. They now will start preparing to take on the Gloucestershire Gladiators on Sunday December 4th.