Ebubedike excels for the Monarchs

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reports from Dsseldorf

Having begun their campaign in disastrous fashion last week, the London Monarchs signalled that they may be a force in the World League of American Football after all, with a decisive 23-7 victory over the Rhein Fire here on Saturday night.

In their earlier 45-22 loss to the Frankfurt Galaxy, the Monarchs had looked poorly prepared, an error-strewn performance leading to their inevitable demise. This time the crucial mistakes were committed by the Fire, who were unable to maintain the momentum generated by an impressive opening drive which saw their quarterback, Gino Torretta, throw a nine-yard touchdown pass to the running back Ronald Williams.

Despite that bright start, the Fire never seriously threatened again. Instead the Monarchs, inspired by their quarterback, Brad Johnson, came into their own.

London's kicker, Don Silvestri, converted two field goals to reduce the deficit before the visitors went ahead for the first time when Victor Ebubedike scored on a two yard run shortly before half-time.

Ebubedike had been the first British player to score during the World League's inaugural season in 1991, but Saturday's game may have been the most complete of his career. The London-born running back was awarded his first ever start, and although he gained only 20 yards on 12 attempts his efforts helped ignite a running game which had lain virtually dormant in Frankfurt.

A short yardage score from Johnson followed by another field goal by Silvestri completed the scoring, then London's improved defense silenced a 15,000 crowd at the Rheinstadion by intercepting Torretta twice and recovering two Fire fumbles.

"I've always maintained that the team which makes the fewest mistakes will win games in this league, and that's what you saw tonight," Bobby Hammond, the Monarchs head coach, said.

Johnson's final analysis of 17 completions from 25 attempts for 181 yards belies the extent of his contribution. His was a near faultless display which bodes well for the remainder of the season.