Pictures: Centurions fire up play-off challenge
GLOUCESTER CENTURIONS 34 SWINDON STORM 12
THE Centurions extended their winning run to five matches with victory over Swindon Storm in a British American Football Association League South Conference fixture.
While the offence failed to fire on their first two attacking drives, strong defence saw line-backers Anthony Lartey and Craig Harris force the Storm to concede a safety as the Centurions took a 2-0 lead.
A poor restart from the Storm turned over possession and drives from running backs Ian Lakin and Levi Smith saw the ball moved into the red zone.
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Smith finished the drive off with a three-yard run for the first touchdown, with Gary Claxton adding the extra point to make it 9-0.
Swindon started the second quarter on their own one-yard line after an expert punt from Claxton, but after avoiding some early pressure they advanced the length of the field to score a touchdown.
The Centurions countered and after a series of quick runs from Shaun Griffin strong field position was set up for quarterback Dan Keen to find Drew Newiss to score his fifth touchdown of the term.
With only four minutes to go until the break, the Storm tried desperately to get back into the game, but they forced a pass and Sam Bonner intercepted to run through and score.
But still the Centurions weren't finish as Keen set up another strong position and with the ball on the one-yard line Griffin barrelled over to give his side a 21-6 lead at the break.
A fine start to the second half saw Robbie Newiss return the kick-off to just short of the halfway line and with Keen in confident mood it took just another four plays for the next score.
A 17-yard pass found rookie wide receiver Sammy-Lee Baker in space and he crossed the goalline.
The next score came quickly with Keen once again picking out a pass, this time to Nick Baker on an inside slant route to catch and beat two defenders to score.
With Claxton having an uncharacteristic bad day with his kicking, the extra point attempt was missed again leaving the score at 27-6.
At this stage Swindon Storm could easily have let their heads drop and let the Centurions run riot.
But just as the Centurions defence had the Storm on the ropes, a couple of bad decisions let them back in to the game.
Two fouls ensured that the ball was advanced 30 yards up field and with momentum suddenly found the Storm bagged their second touchdown, only for Bonner to block the extra-point conversion.
Another fine drive from Keen saw him pick out Baker and then Chris Taylor at the edge of the endzone to secure the fifth touchdown of the game, with Claxton this time adding the extras.
That made the score 34-12 to the hosts and with little time left the Centurions defence took control as Dan Davies intercepted a pass and fine tackling from Bonner made Swindon fumble.
Rookie Jay Styles ensured his side ran the clock down and keep the Centurions firmly in the hunt to make the post-season play-offs for the first time in their history.