Monarchs slay the Dragons

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The Independent Online
In one of the most dramatic games of the season, the London Monarchs survived a desperate late assault to hold out for a 27-22 victory over the Barcelona Dragons in the Olympic stadium on Saturday night.

Despite leading by 12 points with less than six minutes remaining, the Monarchs were in trouble in the closing stages as the Dragons, inspired by their quarterback, Jay Walker, pressed forward. Walker threw a 12-yard touch down to the receiver Tyree Davis, and also mounted a last-minute drive which almost gave his side an unlikely victory.

On the very last play of the game, Walker found the receiver, Mario Henry, for what looked a certain touchdown until the London safety Kevin Porter deflected the ball with his fingertips to preserve the win.

Defeat virtually ends Barcelona's season. In contrast, the Monarchs now stand a genuine chance of finishing with a flourish. Victory over the Rhein Fire at White Hart Lane next Monday would leave them with an excellent chance of qualifying for next month's World Bowl against the Amsterdam Admirals.

The most pleasing aspect of London's triumph was the elimination of mistakes. Their quarterback, Brad Johnson, enjoyed his most efficient game of the campaign, and there were none of the costly fumbles that have characterised previous contests. There were two big plays, both executed by the Monarchs in the first quarter. After Barcelona had taken the lead with a field goal, Eric Stephens returned the ensuing kick-off 90 yards for a touchdown, giving the visitors a lead they would not lose.

Johnson then fired a 58-yard touchdown pass to the receiver Alan Allen to put London in control and despite Lindsay Chapman's 12-yard scoring run for Barcelona, victory looked assured when Johnson threw his second touchdown of the night to the tight end, Mike Titley, early in the fourth quarter. The Dragons' late surge almost paid off, but the Monarchs deserved to hang on.