Varsity American Football: Uni 4-22 Trent
18th March 2012
The rescheduled fourth game in the Varsity series saw the 4-2 Nottingham Outlaws and the 3-3 Nottingham Trent Renegades square off, not just for a Varsity point, but also to keep alive both teams’ dreams of a playoff berth.
Ahead of the game, the Uni team appeared to be in good spirits, despite Varsity history being against them. URN was fortunate to be able to speak to Ben Davies, running back coach of the Outlaws, in the final moments before the match began. Davies sounded as confident as the Outlaws players themselves, and was looking forward to seeing his side getting at the Renegade team, with plenty of confidence in the Outlaw’s own defensive capabilities to keep the points off the board at the Uni end of the pitch.
The Outlaws started off well with a touchback from the kick off, making the Renegades start from their own 20. Trent quarterback Adam Grant was seemingly unfazed, leading his team into the red-zone with an impressive drive including a 40 yard pass play, and leaving the Renegades on the Outlaws’ 1 yard line. The Outlaws defended valiantly but eventually the dam was breached with American exchange student Danny Miller trundling over for the opening touchdown.
The Outlaws’ sluggish start continued on offense. An ineffective drive culminated in an Outlaws punt being charged down; the impressive Miller reacting quickest to recover the ball and run into the end zone for his second touchdown.
This left the Outlaws 14-0 down at the end of the first quarter. However, to their credit they looked a completely different outfit in the second and quickly took control of the game. An impressive drive led by Henry Dinger raised Uni spirits as they moved the ball down the pitch with ease. However, the Outlaws would again prove to be their own worst enemy. A fumble from the otherwise impressive Ayree led to Trent regaining possession. The mistake was further punished by a cleverly crafted 60 yard touchdown pass play from man of the moment Danny Miller to leave the Outlaws trailing 21-0.
The Outlaws recovered from this setback to again move the ball impressively down the field and deep into the red-zone. However, they could not quite convert and were stopped on 4th and inches, giving Trent the ball. However there was no relief for the Renegades with their quarterback finding himself under substantial pressure, and ultimately being sacked in his own end zone. The safety got the Outlaws on the scoreboard but they still trailed 21-2.
With renewed hope, and after a big return from Collis, the Outlaws found themselves on their own 37. Unfortunately, the Renegades were saved by the bell as time ran out on the Outlaws’ attack. The half ended with the score 21-2 but with the Outlaws on top and far from out of the game.
Spirits were raised during the halftime interval by the Trent cheerleaders who braved a cold Friday evening to perform. The Trent army were out in force and one fan in particular, who could only have thought the sport was athletics, can thank his lucky stars that Outlaws hard man Joel Jones failed to connect with an attempted tackle to subdue the would-be pitch invader. URN managed to speak to the Nottingham Knights Cheerleading Squad during the break, who were unfortunately unable to perform a routine due to absences.
Nottingham Uni’s Sabine Shakibi
It was interesting to discover was the differences in opinion on the Outlaws bench about the team’s first half performance, with some players and coaching staff more optimistic than others.
In the second half the Outlaws came out strong with the three-pronged running game of Fines, Rap and Ayree aiding Dinger and his receivers. Ultimately, the impressive outfit could just not convert their dominance into points. The defence were clicking too with captain Dec Foley stopping a fake punt attempt from the Renegades. This set up the offense well who again managed to move the ball with relative ease. However it was the defence who managed to turn pressure into points by blocking a punt which caused the kicker to concede another safety and bring the score to 21-4.
During that possession starting Quarterback Henry Dinger was injured when rushing for a 1st down, which saw backup Luca Rossoni take the helm for the Outlaws. Rossoni almost made an immediate impact with what seemed like a 34 yard touchdown pass to Ben Collis, but the unlucky receiver fumbled it into the end zone at the last minute and the ball was recovered by the Renegades. It just wasn’t the Outlaws’ day.
In the fourth quarter Rossoni tried to invigorate the Outlaws’ offense, picking up first downs with his rushing ability and attempted big plays. But the offensive-line was beginning to tire; Rossoni was sacked twice and threw two interceptions under considerable pressure. The game ultimately ended in a Trent victory to tie the Varsity series, record their third consecutive victory in American Football Varsity and effectively seal their place in the BUAFL playoffs.
After the game, the Trent captain commended the Outlaws players and admitted the game was much closer than the score line would suggest and that he was delighted with the impressive crowd turnout, not to mention the huge improvement in the quality of both outfits on the pitch
Outlaws quarterback Henry Dinger and captain Dec Foley both mentioned how well the players, especially the new personnel, had performed and added how exciting the fixture had been compared to previous years. Both men remained adamant that the elusive first victory in Varsity American Football would come next year.
After a thoroughly exciting game at Harvey Hadden, the difference between the teams was the mistakes made by the men in green, and the ability of Trent’s immensely talented Danny Miller to capitalise on them. 2-2 in the series.
Sachin Gosai and Jack Maclaren