Spain: Badalona Dracs’ offense sparks to life early, buries Valencia Firebats in convincing win

By Kyle Pinnell

Just over a week ago the Badalona Dracs entered halftime of its road tilt against the L’Hospitalet Pioners tied at seven. This week, the Dracs’ offense found its rhythm much sooner, scoring 21 first-half points and another 29 in the fourth quarter en route to a 50-14 victory against the Valencia Firebats.

Last Saturday, the story of the Dracs’ win was a defense that generated five turnovers in the 27-7 win against the Pioners. This week, the team’s offense spread the ball around. Quarterback Kevin Doyle finished with six passing touchdowns: two to Isaiah Woods, one to Edu Molina, one to Iván Caballero and one to Raul Cernuda. Molina also finished with a touchdown on the ground, along with fellow running back Eduard Morlans.

“We didn’t just wait on the defense,” Woods said. “I feel like we play our best when we go forward and nobody can really stop us. We have to capitalize on that and keep getting better every week.”

Badalona’s first offensive play from scrimmage went several yards backward with Molina being tackled deep in the backfield, but from there the host’s offense appeared mostly unstoppable. Molina set up the Dracs’ first touchdown later that opening drive, carrying the ball deep into Firebats’ territory and hurdling a defender before barreling into the end zone soon after.

“I loved that play,” Molina said. “I saw the safety there and said ‘why not.’”

While the Dracs’ couldn’t match the five turnovers they forced against L’Hospitalet, they came close, generating three on Saturday night. Eric Gracia picked off a deep pass by Valencia quarterback Kenny Ramos, which immediately led to his team’s second touchdown: a 45-yard bomb thrown by Doyle that sliced through the Firebats’ secondary and dropped right into the waiting arms of Caballero.

Valencia cut the Dracs’ lead in half midway through the first quarter thanks to a kickoff return touchdown by Willem Jore, but it didn’t take Badalona long to extend the lead once again. On the Dracs’ next drive, Doyle connected with Woods for the receivers’ first touchdown with his new team.

“It felt great,” Woods said. “Just being in a different country with a different team and hitting the ground running with a win, it just felt amazing.”

Still, the Firebats wouldn’t go away. They fought back for a second time to trim its deficit to a touchdown right before halftime, scored by Alex Silvestre after a few penalty flags helped the visitors keep its drive alive.

In the second half, and more specifically in the fourth quarter, the floodgates opened for the Dracs. A 29-point fourth quarter began with another long, weaving Molina carry that saw the running back reach the second level and evade several defenders all the way to the goal line. Soon after, Doyle connected with Molina for a touchdown on a screen pass to give Badalona a 13-point lead, one it wouldn’t relinquish.

“You see (Molina) hurtling, jumping over and running by people,” Woods said. “By the time they get to me or the time we throw the ball, defenders are exhausted from defending him. It makes it easy for everyone else.”

Even with the quick start, the Dracs still saved their best for last. Erik Figueroa recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter while Jordi Rua came up with another interception and nearly returned it for six points. Both forced turnovers ended in Dracs touchdowns.

“We’re still getting better and better,” Molina said. “We’re not at the point where we want to be, so we just have to keep working.”

The Dracs now have a week to prepare for a road test against the Mallorca Voltors currently 3-0 and second in the Eastern Division of the LNFA Serie A. Valencia has a week off before returning home to play the Zaragoza Hurricanes.

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