The Dubai Stallions conquered their Desert Bowl demons, capturing their first title with a 30-6 victory over city rivals Dubai Barracudas last night at Dubai Sports City.
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It was all Stallions on the night as the champions whitewashed the Barracudas from start to finish, the defence blanketing Zavier Cobb and Co. and the offence constantly punching the ball into the end zone. After falling short in two straight Desert Bowls, the Stallions would not be denied a third time.
“We were tired of losing,” Stallions coach Anthony Daniels said. “I told my guys all season we have the best team in this league and we haven’t played like it. Tonight, we played a full game from start to finish.
“My football team made up in their mind tonight that they were not going to lose this game. We were not going to lose a third one. That was the mindset we came in with.”
Of the Stallions’ many stars in the game, running back Davion Miller shined brightest to be named the Desert Bowl MVP. The workhorse punctured the Barracudas defence to the tune of 55 rushing yards and three touchdowns on his 14 carries.
The initial score of the game came on a safety at the end of the first quarter when Michael Andersen’s punt was blocked by the Stallions’ Andre Sommersell and rolled out of the back of the end zone.
Quarterback Chris Wentzel then connected with wide receiver Jeff Nicolson for a 21-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 9-0, followed by the first of Miller’s three scores when he capped a drive spurred by second-string running back Mike Rubino with a 9-yard run.
After taking a 16-0 lead into halftime, the Stallions didn’t let up after the break. With the Barracudas trying to establish any sort of offence, Cobb finally connected with Andersen for what looked like it would be a first down, only for the receiver to be stripped. The loose ball was picked up by Stallions safety Roni Zahr and returned into the Barracudas’ 5-yard line.
The Barracudas’ defence held for a goal-line stop, forcing a turnover on downs, but the offence went three-and-out and punted back to the Stallions. Once again, Miller finished off the ensuing drive with a 5-yard plunge to put his team comfortably ahead at 23-0.
With Cobb forcing the deep ball in the fourth quarter in an attempt to claw back, Stallions’ Dino Drimakis came away with an easy interception and brought the ball back to the Cudas’ 10-yard line. That set up Miller’s final score, a 4-yard burst to put the final dressings on an impressive performance.
Not wanting to be shut out, the Barracudas offence finally strung together a drive on their final possession, with Cobb finding tight end Rich Stead for a 12-yard touchdown.
The Barracudas, however, couldn’t recover the subsequent onside kick and Stallions sealed their fate as EAFL champions.