Great Britain: Exeter Demons win National College Trophy with comeback win over Nottingham Trent Renegades

The Exeter Demons earned the title of BUCS National Trophy Champions after putting an exclamation mark on their perfect season with a 36-27 win over the Nottingham Trent Renegades.

The opening of the game was all NTU, as American dual-threat passer Chris Venegas found wide receiver Ben Harrison deep downfield for a 50 yard gain on the first play of scrimmage before running back Adeoluwa Coker punched in the opening score on the ground.

After some back-and-forth defensive play, which saw the Trent front-seven dominate a strong Exeter offensive line for the duration of the first quarter, the Renegades managed to march downfield, assisted by a deep post caught by Selasi Sosuh. Although Exeter defensive back Ben Hellett stripped the ball on the play, Harrison was there to recover the ball and put Trent in the red zone.

A couple of plays later, Venegas kept the ball on a bootleg and found the front pylon with his legs for a touchdown giving NTU a 14-0 with six minutes left in the second quarter.

Exeter finally began to hit their stride late in the second quarter, with Seyi Paul’s explosive play out of the backfield complementing the bruising run-style of Carl West. The Demons pounded the rock downfield before Paul spun out of multiple tackles to put the Southern champions on the board to narrow the gap to 14-8  following a successful two-point conversion with a little under two minutes remaining in the first half.

The Renegades seemingly lost all momentum the following drive, as they found themselves three-and-out deep in their own zone. The ensuing punt bounced off the back of the upback and Exeter defender Tom Seager scooped up the ball and raced into the end zone to even the score at 14-14 going into halftime.

The second half was all Exeter. They opened the third period with back-to-back rushing touchdowns and a phenomenal reverse-pass from wideout Joe Bush added a two-point conversion to make it  tacked on another two points for the Demons giving them a 28-14 lead with three minutes to go in the third.

Nottingham’s defense found success for the first time in the second half as Ben Abbott was intercepted over the middle, but a Tom Seager strip sack of Venegas put the ball right back in the Demons’ hands.

With seven minutes remaining in the game, Abbott found Bush wide open in the back corner of the endzone for a touchdown to put Exeter up three scores.

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After an extended injury break, Trent returned with a fire. Venegas’ pocket mobility and arm strength was too much for the Demons to handle, as he topped off the drive by drilling a ball over the middle to Selasi Sosuh for a touchdown to close the gap to 36-21 with just under five minutes left in the game.

After a blocked punt from Exeter, Venegas took the ball back at around midfield and hit Harrison on the run for another touchdown to make it a nine point game – 36-27. A delay of game penalty pushed the two-point attempt back, and a tipped ball kept Trent two scores behind with under three minutes left.

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Nottingham managed to force yet another fourth down situation before the two-minute warning, forcing another punt, but a near 80 yard missile from Joe Bush pinned Trent within their own five yard line.

Mental errors from illegal motions to receivers failing to get out of bounds with no timeouts drained the clock as the Demons held onto their 36-27 lead and triumphed to become Division 1 Champions.

A current student at Bournemouth University as well as a quarterback with eight years of playing experience. Brad's goal is to be a part of the growth of the game around the world through journalism and media.