Monday, 5 December 2011

Portsmouth Destroyers 20 vs 3 OBU Panthers

Written by Chris Richards

PORTSMOUTH, HAMPSHIRE – An offseason of change for the Portsmouth Destroyers who lost so many of their 2010 Championship standouts but still pulled out a somewhat flattering 17 point victory here. Gone is the sterile, commercial mien of the Roko as the Destroyers offseason relocation three miles down the road to its Langstone Campus has led to a more collegiate atmosphere for its home fixtures.


Purists would argue this is BUAFL (and BUSA) sport at its finest with fans and fellow students strolling over from concluded intramural fixtures to lend their vocal support on a cold December day. The only people missing from the spectacle were the whistle brandishing men in zebra stripes as no referees were assigned to this clash of previously unbeaten teams. The three volunteers standing in as officials did remarkably well and it was to both Portsmouth and OBU’s credit that the match was played with a well-tempered spirit and both sets of coaches showed patience to the makeshift officiating crew. However volunteer referees lack the clarity and authority of their more qualified BAFRA counterparts and the use of neon hi-vis jackets as penalty flags sadly does a disservice to the sport at an aesthetic level.


Referee assignments aside, the game started with a flurry of punts as neither side were able to establish an offensive rhythm. Portsmouth operated solely out of the pistol set and appear to have a more expansive offensive strategy compared to previous years.

OBU’s approach was more conventional and as the battle for field position continued it was a costly fumble by OBU that led to the first points of the day. Reclaiming the ball on their opponent’s 30-yard line, it didn’t take long for Portsmouth quarterback Ben Clift to connect with rookie wideout Taofeeq Adeyemi for a 28 yard score. With confidence gained, and kicking never really an option, the Destroyers went for two more and running back Tomi Olusanya swept home to push the score to 8-0.


OBU’s second quarter response was impressive as first downs became increasingly scarce for the Destroyers and a more probing approach on offence led to Portsmouth being on the back foot. OBU receiver Bradley Maybury was beginning to exploit the short and intermediate routes and it was Maybury himself who kicked through a 33-yard field goal to get them on the board.


Smelling blood, the Panthers forced Olusanya to fumble on his own 3-yard line and the Panthers seemed certain to take a deserved lead. Finally the Portsmouth defence stood firm, forcing two incompletions and stuffing a run attempt in the backfield. It got worse for the Panthers who then saw a bad snap derail their field goal attempt and walked away from the redzone ruing their missed opportunity.

At the half, Portsmouth could consider themselves lucky to be ahead as OBU had matched their physicality and refused to back down to the Champions in their own back yard. However, if the axiom is to be believed; “You can’t dance with the champ…You have to knock him out!” and Portsmouth seemed willing to slowly build up the pressure and hope for the OBU mistake. That mistake duly arrived in the third quarter as an errant snap flew over the head of punter and after rolling for what seemed like an eternity, was downed on the Panthers 5 yard line. Portsmouth quickly capitalised and it was running back Brook Ince who punched in the short touchdown. After the two-point conversion failed, Portsmouth saw out the quarter with a 14-3 lead.


With the pressure continuing to build, OBU’s punter/Offence Swiss Army Knife James Walter made a series of significant gains as a runner and receiver despite Destroyer’s defensive linemen Mike Gumbs and Edd Hunt spending an increasing amount of time in the OBU backfield.


Consistently enjoying good field position and with the Panthers defense tiring and having to rotate, another Destroyers touchdown seemed inevitable and it was Ince who finished off the contest with a 7 yard run. The two-point conversion again failed and Portsmouth led 20-3. By now the Panthers were solely reliant on the passing game and quarterback Tomi Biberovic was first picked off by linebacker Laurence Pestell and then later by cornerback Tai Ndanga, icing the game.


Quick fire Analysis


It was a deserved victory for the Destroyers but perhaps the final margin of victory flattered them a little. Portsmouth’s ability to capitalise on OBU mistakes was what separated the two teams and this is no doubt founded in the experience of the coaching staff and returning players. The OBU defense can pride itself on a performance that frustrated the Destroyers for most of the day despite being on the field 65-75% of the time.


Portsmouth appear to lack the overall depth they enjoyed last year in nearly every position. Running back continues to be an area of strength for Portsmouth with rookies Folah Dare and Matt Baxter providing a spark in limited opportunities. However ball security issues will have Head Coach Russ Hewitt initiating some form of team punishment before their next game I would imagine. OBU’s offense was well organized and effective in places with a strong offensive line, however they seemed to lack a “Plan B” when Portsmouth started to get the upper hand.

4 comments:

  1. Can we have reports of other teams..?

    ReplyDelete
  2. If people send them in, they are of reasonable quality and aren't clearly biased then of course!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Excellent, cheers chaps, keep up the good work

    ReplyDelete
  4. As much as we would like to take the credit for this wonderfully put together game report, it was submitted by an outside contributer!

    ReplyDelete

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