The Coventry Jets edged to a thrilling victory over the Division leading Nottingham Caesars. Thomas Singleton-Wells' two point conversion with 30 seconds to play was the difference as the Jets moved to 3-2 on the season with a 28-27 win. Head Coach Paul Rickhuss commended his young squad's commitment "they never gave up and finally showed they believe in themselves as much as I do."
Nottingham had chances to seal victory but foolish penalties cost them dearly, none more so than being called for holding on Daniel Johnson's successful extra point kick that would have made the score 28-20 to the visitors, however, his second attempt from ten yards further out was no good.
Coventry got off to their, now traditional, slow start, a problem that has blighted their season. Three penalties and some poor tackling helped contribute to a decent Caesars drive that ended with a Danny Miller touchdown run from one yard out. Dominic Olney had the Jets in a good position to respond with a long kick return but a three and out left Josh Hughes charged with a 39 yard field goal to cut the deficit to 7-3.
Miller did the damage once again with three big runs, including a 26 yard touchdown to cap an impressive three play, 70 yard drive to stretch the lead to 14-3. The Jets offensive struggles continued as they failed to get their passing game off the ground. However, as the 2nd quarter began, a shanked Tom Snee punt landed Coventry at their opponent’s 34 yard line and Joe Brammer struck immediately with a precision pass to debutant wide receiver Ben Fisher. Hughes added the extra point to pull the sluggish Jets to within four.
Nottingham then handed the Jets complete control as their special teams melted down. Twice the Caesars defence thwarted the Jets offence only to see their return unit cough up possession as they failed to handle punts. The Jets forced the ball in through the running of Mufaro Dune and Tony Perkins, who burst in from a yard out to give Coventry a 17-14 lead at half-time.
The advantage was short-lived however as Marcus Boswell made an excellent play in picking off a Brammer pass on the opening play of the second half, returning it 25 yards for a score and restoring Nottingham's lead at 21-17. Coventry, once again, turned to their ground game as Olney tore up large chunks of yardage to put Hughes in range for a 28 yard field goal to cut the lead to a solitary point. The Jets following possession saw Hughes attempt a longer boot but his 41 yard effort fell short as he didn't manage to connect properly.
As the final quarter began Nottingham mounted a nine play drive that culminated in Simon Denning’s six yard touchdown pass to Ben Rabbett but it was the failed extra point conversion that proved most decisive. Both teams then exchanged a couple of punts with a 62 yard boot from the Caesars landing Coventry at their own 20 yard line with less than four minutes to play. Perkins swiftly moved the Jets over halfway with a 30 yard carry and completions from Brammer to Sam Hyde and Singleton-Wells saw the home team inside their opponent’s five yard line.
Miller, hero of the first half, turned villain as his petulance cost the Caesars. With time running out and the Jets scrambling to get to the line of scrimmage the New Jersey native rolled the ball away to waste time. The match officials charged him with a delay of game penalty, which moved the ball to the two yard line, and stopped the clock. From there, Brammer was able to scramble to the right and sneak the ball into the corner of the endzone to bring the Jets within one. Rickhuss, faced with the choice of kicking for a tie or with trying to run or pass into the endzone for two points and the win, made a bold call in leaving his offence on the field but was rewarded as Brammer scrambled right and picked out Singleton-Wells for the match winning score.
It wasn’t quite over there though as the Caesars still had twenty seconds in which they squeezed out three nail-biting offensive plays, all three pass attempts fell incomplete though and the Jets jubilant sideline could finally celebrate their hard-fought victory. The win keeps the Jets in fourth place but Nottingham drop out of top spot to be replaced by the Lancashire Wolverines. Coventry’s next opponents are the third placed Gateshead Senators who the Jets will visit this coming Saturday. Coventry have never lost to the Senators but, on paper, this looks to be the closest competition the two will ever have had and their first meeting since 2008