Dubai Stallions fight back to tie Abu Dhabi Wildcats in EAFL Desert Bowl rematch

Dubai Stallions fought back from an early deficit to nearly steal a win over Abu Dhabi Wildcats but failed to capitalise as the Desert Bowl rematch ended in a 14-14 tie in Al Ain on Friday.

Stallions drove down the field in the final minutes to set up a game-winning 18-yard field goal, but had a disappointing finish as the kick was blocked by Wildcats as time expired.

“The biggest thing we take away from this game is we were in a hole and we came back and gave our­selves a chance to win at the end,” Stallions coach Anthony Daniels said. “We were there, we missed a kick, but that’s what we take away from it.”

Stallions’ comeback efforts were driven by their two-headed run­ning back tandem of Davion Miller and Mike Rubino.

Miller stretched the defence in the first half with his speed and elusiveness before Rubino pound­ed the interior with inside runs late.

The Stallions had to rely even more on their running game than usual because starting quarterback Markas Morton was unavailable to play due to career commitments.

David Burke took Morton’s place but his throws were limited with Stallions leaning on their backs.

“We’re still working on our quar­terback position. I thought David did a great job though. He stood up, he drove the offence down the field and we put points on the board,” said Daniels.

“We have great running backs. They’re strong, they’re power­ful and they have a feel for find­ing holes. That’s going to be our primary offence this year.”

The Wildcats defence expected a heavy dose of the run but had trouble bringing down Miller and Rubino.


“On the defensive side of the ball, we just didn’t do well tackling their guys,” Wildcats coach Charles Gillespie said. “We knew pretty much they were a one-trick pony with running the ball and we just didn’t get there to wrap up.”

The Stallions had an ominous start, surrendering a 75-yard return touchdown to Wildcats’ Jameer Reynolds on the game’s opening kickoff. Dubai’s offence didn’t even take the field following the score as they botched the return on the ensuing kickoff to give the Wildcats the ball in their territory.

From there, however, the Stal­lions’ defence held to force a turno­ver on downs and allowed just one more score the rest of the way.

The touchdown came when Wildcats quarterback Perry Black­burn faked out everyone with a play-action before rolling to his right and hitting Vivaldi Tulysse, who broke tackles and juked defenders on the sideline to take it in from 38 yards.

Stallions responded with a 22-yard touchdown pass from Burke to Askia Horne-Pieri, the receiver snagging the jump ball over the defensive back to pull clos­er at 14-7 before halftime. Burke later evened the score with a one-yard sneak.

With the tie, the Wildcats remain unbeaten at 1-0-1, while the Stal­lions are still searching for their first win at 0-1-1.


Jay is a reporter who covers the NBA and NFL, as well as local sports in the UAE. He's lived the majority of his life in Boston, one of the biggest sports scenes in the world, and majored in journalism at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His