Spain: Badalona Dracs start quick but leave plenty to be desired in win over Pioners

It was the start that Badalona Dracs head coach Román Villamonte and his coaching staff had been waiting for. The Dracs reached their highest level all season, at least for the first quarter, displaying complete dominance as they jumped out to a four-score advantage.

Despite Badalona’s perfect record entering Saturday, it has often felt like there has been something missing from each of its first five victories. Whether sloppy penalties, mental errors or poorly-timed turnovers, there has always been something the Dracs have left a game frustrated with. However, it didn’t feel like that in L’Hospitalet de Llobregat on Saturday afternoon, at least for a quarter.

The Pioners caught a team frustrated with their recent play on the field at the wrong time. The “hosts” scored 24 points on their first five drives, just enough to hold off a late comeback, en route to a 38-21 win over L’Hospitalet.

“It was more than confidence,” Dracs defender Pep Tricas said. “We played with more discipline.”

Quarterback Kevin Doyle and his attack looked convincing from its first drive. A well-balanced mix of run and pass plays, the Pioners struggled to slow the Dracs down. Wide receiver David Martínez stepped up and made several catches with his peers recovering from injuries. Then there was the one-two punch of Badalona’s running back duo: Jeremiah Gutierrez and Edu Molina.


Gutierrez scored the Dracs’ first touchdown of the afternoon, a short run after finding space between the tackles on the goal line. That was the first of two touchdowns Gutierrez scored in the opening quarter, adding to the two he scored in Zaragoza a week ago.

The American import’s breakneck speed and agility contrasted well with the hard-nose running style of Molina. While Gutierrez’s touchdowns came by finding an edge and rushing past defenders, Molina prefers to spin and power through the middle of the field. The Girona-born back broke two tackles with spin moves when he scored to put the Dracs up 31-6 before halftime.

“I think it’s confidence,” Molina said. “We both have the confidence that allows our teammates to trust us when we carry the ball.”

Badalona’s only other touchdown of the first half came on a pick-six play made by Pep Tricas, who intercepted the ball in the middle of the field and returned it for a touchdown. The Pioners rarely threatened the Dracs; their lone touchdown of the first half came out of almost nothing as running back Jean Carlos Barbosa found space down the middle of the field and rushed into the end zone.

“It was 24-0 and we thought ‘Okay, the game is finished,’” Tricas said. “We can’t do that. That mentality slowed us down.”


L’Hospitalet found the end zone yet again at the beginning of the second half with a 30 yard touchdown completion. The visitors clawed back to within 10 points after the defense forced a pick-six from young quarterback Pol Singleton, who replaced Doyle midway through the second half due to his team’s large advantage.

After several series of offensive struggles, Badalona finally got back on the board as Singleton found tight end Raúl Cernuda for a touchdown, extending the host’s lead to 17 and putting the game to rest.

“We started by dominating [the game], which is what we wanted to improve,” Dracs running back Edu Molina said. “We did that, but in the second half we let up. We need to mix it up and play like that in both parts of the game.”

The Dracs, now 6-0, have a bye week before their next game: a showdown against the Firebats in Valencia on March 26. L’Hospitalet, meanwhile, is still looking for its first win since the opening week of the 2023 season. It has the chance to do so when the Zaragoza Hurricanes come to town on March 25.