Dragons do the slaying in a comedy of errors

American football: London Monarchs 7 Barcelona Dragons 9
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The Independent Online
The London Monarchs lost their third contest of the season after an ugly, error-strewn game at White Hart Lane yesterday. They were beaten by the Barcelona Dragons before a crowd of 13,000.

It was grim stuff, and while the Dragons improved their record to two wins and two defeats, both teams will have to perform much better than this if they are to reach next month's World Bowl.

The Monarchs opened the scoring with less than two minutes remaining in the first half, the quarterback Frank Costa throwing a 51-yard touchdown pass to Tony Vinson in one of the Monarchs' few effective offensive plays of the game.

Barcelona responded with field goals of 28, 44 and 20 yards from Scott Szeredy, the final one coming with just over a minute remaining to seal the visitors' win.

Other than that, it was a tale of spluttering offenses and a catalogue of special teams' howlers. It started early, when the Barcelona quarterback Kelly Holcomb threw an interception, the running back Terry Wilburn fumbled and Szeredy failed to convert a field goal following a botched snap.

The Dragons' kicker had an unusual game. The Kansas City Chiefs player also missed a simple 29-yard field goal with five minutes remaining, only to convert the game winner when it really mattered. "This was just a crazy thing," said Barcelona's head coach, Jack Bicknell. "When we missed that field goal I really thought it was over, and when Scott took the last one I couldn't bear to watch."

His counterpart, Lionel Taylor, having enjoyed good fortune against the Rhein Fire on his debut last week, saw his luck run out. London's kicker, Roger Ruzek, failed with a 51-yard kick, but the crucial difference came with the punting unit. Sonny Feexico, who had kicked well, had a punt blocked by Chris Crooms in the first half and perhaps that was on his mind when he dropped the ball late in the game to give Barcelona possession on London's 10-yard line. From there, even Szeredy could not miss.

"Last week we got away with mental mistakes, but this week they just caught up with us," Taylor said. "Sonny simply mishandled the punt, and that's all it took. I don't suppose it will ever happen again, but it happened today, and that makes it a tough loss."