by Ray Bentley, Mexico City RB
The Empires Strike Back (at Each Other): London at Mexico
Mexico City arrived back at Estadio Azteca, riding high off a last-second victory over the Chicago Wildcats, and began preparations to host one of the new expansion teams in the Simulation Football League’s 10th season: Liam Crowter’s London Knights. The Knights, fresh off an equally thrilling win over the Carolina Skyhawks, were busy getting ready to take on the former champs. In the end, it was those loyal to the Queen who would eke out the victory, with the Aztec Empire falling to the conquistadors 16-10.
The Aztecs won the coin toss and chose to kick to London, confident in their abilities at home. That confidence was apparent on London’s first series where they were only able to pick up 7 yards before turning the ball back over to Mexico City. The Knights, however, had a few tricks up their sleeves in store for former MVP Ray Bentley, namely Cain Vasquez, Garret Roland Sr., and Slinn Shady. The Aztecs were also unable to get any traction, turning the ball over on downs thanks to a stop from Vasquez. Michael Martin, quarterback of the Knights, was the first to move the chains on the next series with a precision strike to Jockamo Jones in Mexico territory. Fortunately for the home team, the Jack and Mack Attack Stack were out in full force and were able to prevent the Knights from moving into scoring range. Mexico received the ball back and initiated a hurry-up offense with Richard Montague (not Montage, as he was tagged all night) and Dijon Swann helping to march the Aztecs into field goal territory. Star kicker Kole Varner was the first to put points on the board and Mexico led the matchup 0-3 at the end of the first quarter.
The Knights weren’t able to make much headway on their next series thanks to #TheWall defense stepping up and the ball was back in Aztec possession with 10 minutes to go. Willson, Bentley, Swann, Barrett, and Montague got to work, pushing their offense down the field and into the redzone of the London Knights. With 5:22 remaining in the first half, it was the Altered Beast who found a three yard hole to the promised land, putting Mexico firmly in the lead, 0-10. Spencer Mair, however, was waiting to step up and show Mexico what kind of stuff British running backs were made out of and, thanks to an offsides penalty, was able to pick up 30 yards on a 1st and 5. Michael Martin was able to capitalize on this movement, throwing a pass to Tony Adamson for 9 yards before throwing a beautiful touchdown pass up the middle to non-contract receiver Charlie Balmer to put London on the board, 7-10, with three minutes remaining. Mexico and London traded the ball back once each before the half’s end with nothing doing on either side, and the Aztecs held onto the three point lead coming into the third.
The Knights kicked the ball off to Mexico, who couldn’t do much with it other than have Bentley truck Garrett Roland Sr. on 3rd and 3. After they received the ball back, Knights running back Spencer Mair picked up 9 but had a fumble forced by Jack Brown. Luck was on London’s side, as a non-contract was able to recover the ball for a few extra yards, and London marched downfield again. Both defenses were on point for the rest of the quarter, and London found themselves in field goal range to start the fourth quarter, with the score 7-10 Mexico.
Within two plays, the score was tied at 10-10. Mexico received the ball, but the linebackers for the Knights weren’t having any of it and the Aztecs quickly returned it to London. Michael Martin marched his troops down the field, but King Wallis saved the Aztecs from a seven point deficit and the Knights had to settle for a field goal. Another quick series from Mexico returned the ball to London and things started looking up for the former champions as they sacked Martin on 2nd and 10 for a 5 yard loss. That was the best things would look for Mexico, however, as on the very next play Martin would drop a golden pass in the arms of Jockamo Jones, placing them once again in Mexican field goal territory. Once again, the Knights would finish their possession with a field goal. Following this, with the two minute warning approaching, the Aztecs had to get something going – and get something going they did. Thanks to a combination of passes to Montague, Swann, and Barrett, as well as a few rushes from Bentley, Mexico City was able to push downfield, but within range of the endzone, were stopped on 4th and 8 by the resurgent London defense, with the clock ticking away the final seconds of a Knights 16-10 victory.
Mexico and London both fought a tough, gritty defensive battle. The linebackers from the British Isles had Ray Bentley’s number all night, and their corners were able to break up otherwise clutch passes from Matt Willson. The Aztecs are brushing themselves off and looking forward to a rematch with the Queen City Corsairs, who are currently riding near the top of the Eastern Conference standings, with the Knights right below. London returns home hoping to put a dent in the Tallahassee Pride next week. BE THERE.