Beefeaters Drop Close Game to Tough Opponent
London Beefeaters FootballGreg Bowman
The London Beefeaters played their first home game of the 2019 CJFL season on Saturday afternoon at City Wide Field. They were hosting the Hamilton Hurricanes, who are defending Ontario Champions, and perennial contenders on the National stage. London was already 1-0 on the season after a 72-0 win against the Niagara Raiders last weekend, while it was the first game of the season for Hamilton.
The Beefeaters got the scoring started in the first half, forcing a Hamilton safety to lead 2-0. They extended their lead to 9-0 after quarterback Clarke McCallum kept it on a run and barely crossed the plane for a touchdown. London enjoyed that 9-0 lead into halftime.
Hamilton struck in the third quarter, with Ethan Belbeck finding Keyshaun Jordan for a 20-yard touchdown reception. They missed the PAT, making it a 9-6 game. The Hurricanes added another score a few minutes later, with Belbeck throwing a screen pass to Jevante Stanley who ran it the rest of the way for a touchdown, putting Hamilton ahead 13-9.
London got the touchdown back in the fourth quarter. On third and goal, McCallum threw a quick slant pass to Bailey Holmes who corralled it for a TD, making it 16-13.
On the ensuing kickoff, Khalil Wilson returned the ball inside the London 20-yard line, resulting in a game-tying field goal. The Hurricanes blocked a punt inside the three-minute warning to set up the game-winning field goal from Enzo Lariccia to send Hamilton away with the win.
“Four quarters of football,” explained Head Coach, Jesse Maddox on what the difference was. “We didn’t play four quarters of football. We came out on a high and we let it drift into the fourth quarter which ultimately left us in a position of vulnerability.”
Despite the loss, the Beefeaters had a lot of positives, taking the top team in the conference down to the wire: “We had one of our two QBs go down, we rallied behind the second guy. The defence definitely played real strong. Up front, they made plays. It’s one of those things – football’s a team sport; we’ve got to come together,” said Maddox.
The Beefeaters defence was a force against Hamilton, forcing a fumble and getting two interceptions, among countless sacks and tackles for loss. “Defence played lights-out,” praised Maddox. “I was a little worried about them and now it’s kind of shifted. All in all, we had a hell of a day, and I’m proud of the guys.”
The Beefeaters are going to use this close loss as a motivator for the rest of the season: “I think when you play the winner of the past six or seven OFC Championships and you lose by three points…at the end of the day, we have a lot of strides we can hit. We have got a lot of work to do, but we got a good squad here,” said Maddox.
London will travel to Ottawa to take on the Sooners on August 31st, then will return home on September 7th for a clash against the Windsor AKO Fratmen.