The 2011 PASIC Charity Varsity Series kicked off at the Harvey Hadden Stadium with American Football Varsity and Trent emerging as victors through a very tight, scrappy, tactically limited and wind-affected game. Uni will have the right to feel hard done by, as they did have the better chances, however, their completion and conversion rates were poor to say the least! Especially with regards to the large quantity of free yards Uni received through Trent’s inability to stick to the rules. On the whole both team’s offenses showed little, neither able to shine against the opposing defence. On the other hand this may well be down to the fact that both defences performed exceptionally as the stats would suggest. There we have it though: the first point of the 2011 PASIC Charity Varsity Series goes to Trent after what was in all honesty a poor advert for the great game of American Football!
Detailed Match Report
The 2011 PASIC Charity Varsity Series kicked off at the Harvey Hadden Stadium with American Football Varsity – a teaser for Super Bowl XLV! The teams emerged to a cold windy field watched by a packed bleacher approximately a thousand strong, excited by the prospect of the new Varsity series and for some their first EVER American Football game! This game had more than just a Varsity point riding on it as well with the fixture counting towards the regional league where a victory for Trent would severely damage Uni’s chances of achieving a playoff place.
Trent got the Varsity series underway kicking to Uni’s 21 yard line, which was returned by Uni for 4 yards. Uni’s offensive team came to the field with high energy and passion; deflated immediately as Uni gifted Trent’s middle linebacker a simple interception, who made a small territorial gain entering Uni’s red zone. This Trent threat was soon quashed by Trent themselves, as they lightened the pressure upon Uni by, conceding two consecutive penalties for false starting at the line of scrimmage.
This action was all that Uni’s half was going to see in the first quarter, as Uni made small offensive gains through a combination of passing and mostly rushing plays. Uni were largely aided by the strong wind behind their punts pushing Trent back and preventing Trent’s punts from even venturing past Trent’s own 40 yard line. Special note for Uni’s defence, though, who proved no easy opponent, with a solid defensive performance throughout. The pure power from a Uni linebacker’s tackle resulted in a Trent fumble in their own 15 yards. This was recovered by Uni and granted them with a great opportunity to take the lead at the end of the first quarter, however Uni were unable to do so before the whistle.
The second quarter began with Uni retaining this great field position but they were still incapable of converting their chances into a scoreboard presence. A failed 4th down resulting in Trent gaining possession; Trent’s offensive advancements were halted concluding in them punting on 4th down, relieve their endzone from Uni pressure.
A constant back and forth between offensive and defensive team changes followed. Trent were able to make little yardage through plays, but assisted once again by the wind and also a missed judged catch by the Uni punt return, resulted in Trent applying huge pressure on the Uni endzone.
Uni offense achieved a first down but no more. The deciding moment came now, as Uni found themselves, to be in their own red zone on 4th down. The punter returned to the field (as to be expected) and subsequently kicked straight into a head wind which sent the ball backwards into Uni’s own five. Setting Trent up with amazing field positioning and giving them the opportunity to call a simple running play that saw their halfback go in for the only touchdown in the game! Trent opted to go for the two point conversion, an interesting tactical decision that paid off as the TE found himself wide open in the endzone, through a play action pass, to take Trent up by 8 points.
Half time came with Uni the more disheartened of the two sides. They had had more possession and chances but nothing to show for them! Trent went into half time brimming with the confidence of just scoring. Half time entertainment was provided by cheerleaders from both teams, as a warm up to the big date of Ice Hockey Varsity (21st February). Nottingham Knights took the field first, performing a very impressive routine that Trent Tigers matched in response.
The second half started with a solid Trent return for 30 yards, finishing at the half way line. Play was similar to that of the first half with neither offensive making that great an impact upon the other and both being shut out by opposing defences. Trent had more of the possession though but still conceding pointless preventable fouls at regular occasions, which Uni really should have capitalised on!
Trent went into the 4th quarter, with a two possession lead – Uni having to score a touchdown and then at least a field goal, to be named victors. A tough challenge for any team in such conditions however Uni were unable to put anything near a successful drive together, only gaining territory through Trent’s appalling adherence to the rules! Overall though Trent were never really under any threat in the 4th quarter, as Uni flopped a few passes and never encroached into the red zone. Subsequently a turnover in downs left Trent the easy job of watching the clock tick down for them to be crowned American Football Varsity Champions of 2011!
Trent walk away as the victors however they did not dominate the game to any extent, they were just more efficient when it mattered. The fact that they finished with a nothing next to their net passing yards proves that Uni defence did their job. It was just Uni offensive who were tactically limited and never had the execution required to win. I think the game was hindered though by the windy conditions that seemed to prevent either side from even attempting a field goal or completing passes regularly.
So the 2011 PASIC Charity Varsity Series has started and Trent has earned the first point of the series, after what was in all honesty a poor advert for the game. Uni will feel rightfully disappointed having not capitalized on multiple opportunities especially the gift of Trent’s huge number of penalties. All credit to Trent for leaping upon the chance given to them by the wind-affected punt but having not completed a single pass they cannot leave the Harvey Hadden complex without thinking that it wasn’t an all-round comprehensive victory.
All said and done though the crowd were entertained and the event has faded us nicely into what should be one of the most competitive Varsity series as both battle it out over the next couple of months. Congratulations to Trent who have now taken one step closer to defending the Varsity Crown!
Next event is on Monday 21st February – Varsity Ice Hockey at the Capital FM Arena – tickets (£4) are NOW on sale from the SU Box Office & Bag’o’Nails, or you can purchase a season ticket for all events for £12 which also gets you a limited edition Varsity 2011 t-shirt.
By Tom Ryan
Images by Alexandra Levine