Lions ride wave, stay unbeaten
After making the longest journey in the Premier South, the Brighton Tsunami arrived in Birmingham looking to stop the undefeated Lions and, in doing so, pull off one of the biggest shocks of the season. Birmingham, high on confidence from a strong margin of victory over the Bath Killer Bees, were looking to extend their good run of form and take command at the top of the table.
After a quick three and out from Brighton to start the game, the Lions quickly scored the first points of the contest, setting an early pace. After strong running from Xavier Ajuwon, it was fellow running back Darius Price who was able to carry the ball 30 yards into the end zone after some evasive running off the back of a well constructed screen pass. The Lions kept the pressure on Brighton by shutting down the run, forcing Brighton to punt the ball back to the relentless Birmingham offense. It was not long before Ajuwon was able to open his account for the day; after bursting through between the tackles he broke the ball to the outside, racing away from the Tsunami secondary to take the Lions two scores ahead.
The start of the second quarter brought with it the same dominance that the Lions had exerted in the first. More dominant play by Birmingham’s defense had the home team with the ball again, looking to put further scores on the board. A completion on a deep ball by QB Alex Wake to Alex Salter with the first play of the drive looked to have brought a touchdown, yet Salter was ruled down at the 1 yard line somewhat controversially. Fittingly, it was Salter who finished off the drive on the next play, motioning across the formation to take a short pass and racing untouched into the corner. Looking to claw themselves back into the game, Brighton looked to the pass more and more, bringing the Lions pass rush into the game. A sack on 3rd down knocked the ball loose, with a diving Nik Evans pouncing on the ball to set Birmingham up with great field position. It took the Lions just one play to convert, with Ollie Waldren-Smith fighting through the Tsunami goal line coverage to catch a well placed lofted pass from Wake.
The Lions D once again came away with the ball after a botched hand-off by the Brighton offense, giving the Lions a chance to set up yet another drive before half time. A well constructed screen pass to Ajuwon, followed by some tough running, got the Lions to the 5 yard line where fellow running back Price was able to convert on an option run play. Birmingham lead 35-0 at half time, firmly ahead and seemingly it was their game to lose.
The Lions refused to take their foot off the gas in the second half despite a rotation of players beginning to take place. With the offense on the field, a swing pass to Ajuwon took the Lions into the Tsunami red zone, and a completion to WR Ollie Ashton on a slant gave him two touchdowns in as many games. Birmingham poured further misery on their opposition when they recovered the following kick off, giving them another great opportunity to score. On 3rd down, backup QB Sammy-Lee Baker found Mason Baptiste on a corner route to push the Lions even further ahead of Brighton. And in keeping with the flow of the game it wasn’t long before the Lions scored yet again. After ther defines forced yet another three and out, Baker found Alex Salter on a slant, with Salter racing across the field to score in the opposite corner.
The Lions defines ended the 3rd quarter by scoring their first points of the day. With Brighton backed up on their own goal line, an unblocked Josh Saunders raced off the edge to sack the Tsunami QB in the end zone for a safety. Moving into the fourth quarter it was the Lions defense scoring once again, with linebacker Maxwell Petitjean intercepting the Brighton QB and returning the ball for a deserved pick six. From there it was just left to the Birmingham offense to run the clock out, securing a dominant win.