Thursday, 12 January 2012

As it Stands: Championship Playoffs Semi Finals

After last week’s divisional round which a fair bit of controversy with our viewers, we now find ourselves at the semi finals of the Championship Playoffs.

UWE Bullets  @ Hallam Warriors 
The Hallam defence were once again in dominating form (here shown against Leeds Celtics)
Photo Courtesy of gallowayphotography.co.uk

In the semi final that no one predicted to happen we find the UWE Bullets making the 173 mile journey (one way!!!) from Bristol to Sheffield to take on the Hallam Warriors.

Despite the long journey up north the Bullets showed no signs of fatigue in the first quarter as they managed to keep the Warriors double wing in check on the Warriors first two drives. Despite gaining good yardage Hallam were unable to find their way into the endzone. A Chris Webber pass was knocked down on 4th and 7 on the UWE thirteen and that was the closest the Warriors came to scoring in the first quarter.

Fortunately for the Hallam offence their teammates on the other side of the ball were more than up to the task of keeping the Bullets offence, once again led by rookie QB J.J. Davies, at bay and forcing two three and outs on the first three UWE series alone.

Both teams’ fortunes changed in the second quarter as Hallam FB Richard Griffiths managed to muscle his way into the endzone from two yards out to give the Warriors an 8-0 lead after the successful two point conversion. Hallam were the next team to score again after a good punt return set up a twenty three yard rushing touchdown for MVP favourite Danny Pyle ,but the Warriors failed on the two point attempt.


UWE managed to get on the scoreboard just before the half as veteran running back Sam Atokorah followed his blockers out front and took the screen pass the distance to bring the warriors back within seven. Score at the half 14-7.

Hallam got off to the worst possible start in the third quarter as UWE rookie DE Idrissa Fornah recovered a fumbled handoff between Webber and Pyle; Fornah scooped the ball up and out sprinted the chasing Warrior players for the thirty three yards fumble recovery touchdown. The PAT was added to tie up the scores.

After another D dominated third quarter both teams entered the fourth quarter with the score still tied at fourteen points apiece.

With less than seven minutes remaining in the game it was the Bullets offence who managed to orchestrate a worthy drive which ended with a seven yard touchdown pass from Davies to Tight End Xavier Anderson. Knowing that the Warriors would most likely go for two points if they scored again UWE Head Coach Matt Dyke decided to go for two and running back Craig McLeod bundled his way in for the score.

Despite giving the ball back to UWE after being unsuccessful on 4th down, the Warriors managed to get the ball back after forcing the Bullets to go three and out. With only two minutes remaining in the game QB Webber hit danger man James Musonda for a long gain to get Hallam inside the UWE fifthteen.  Two plays later Webber got into the endzone himself with QB keeper from eight yards out. As he has done in previous games Lee Sanders successfully scored the two points after try to bring the scores level and force the game into overtime.

Overtime was short-lived though as on their first drive the Bullets QB was intercepted by defensive back Sam Nisbett. On the first Warriors play from scrimmage Danny Pyle turned into the hero for Hallam as he juked his way into the endzone to give the Warriors the 28-22 victory!

The Hallam Warriors will now head to the final despite all of the doubters saying a double wing team couldn’t make it! Unfortunately for UWE their season is over, but they should still be pleased they made it all the way to the semi finals.

Birmingham Lions  @ Hertfordshire Hurricanes

QB Sope Dirisu drops back to pass. Photo Courtesy of Mike Hinton

In the rematch of what many believed to be game of the season last year, the Birmingham Lions travelled down south to take on the highest seed left in the playoffs, the Hertfordshire Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes were the first team to get on the board as the offence successfully churned out yards against the Lions defence on the first series of the game, Joe Thompson connected with Dominic Husbands on the play action pass to give the Canes an early 7-0 lead. Their joy was short-lived though as rookie wideout Stefan Rowden showed off his return skills and returned the kickoff to bring the scores level after the PAT was good.

Despite the early scores in the first quarter both teams defences were now starting to take charge of the matchup and a Johnny Glover interception was returned to the Lions three yard line by cornerback Stefan Rivera. Temi Oduyemi juked his way into the endzone to give the Canes a seven point lead at the end of the first.

Sope Dirisu took over the QB duties from Glover at the second quarter to try and spark the Lions offence. The change seemed to work as the Lions managed to score on their first series of the second half with a twelve yard rushing touchdown for Eni Osonaike. Things went from bad to worse for the Canes as QB Thompson was injured and knocked out of the game when he was sacked by Kyle Burrows and Eddie Cheadle. Backup QB Brandon Sliekers first pass attempt was then intercepted by Dan Hampton who returned the ball for six! A successful PAT attempt gave the Lions a 21-14 lead. The score would remain 21-14 all the way until half time.

The Lions struck again midway through the third quarter when Dan Conroy hit the hole created by Tom Levick and  Ross Barrow to score a thirty yard touchdown and most importantly a two score lead.

Despite being down by two scores and their starting QB out for the rest of the game, the Canes continued to battle against the Lions and their efforts were rewarded when Gareth Davies caught a six yard touchdown pass from Sliekers to bring Herts within seven points as they headed into the final quarter. However the game seemed lost when the Lions struck instantly on a sixty seven yard touchdown pass from Dirisu to Jason Grundy.

Once again though the Canes showed their grit as veteran running back James Howell managed to finish off a long Hurricanes drive with a touchdown to bring Herts back within seven. Dave Jennison then came up trumps for Hertfordshire when he recovered the onside kick attempt to give the ball back to the Hurricanes!

Sliekers, now finding his groove, pulled off an impressive drive to bring the Canes into the Lions ten yard line. On second down Sliekers completed a bubble screen to Andy Harrison who was instantly hit by Greg Freeman and the ball was knocked loose and Luke Wilkins dived on the ball to return possession to the Lions. After two runs to convert a first down Birmingham could kneel out the rest of the game and advance to the final for the fourth year straight!

Maybe the result would have been different if Thompson hadn’t have got injured or if the Canes hadn’t fumbled at the end. Either way this matchup ended up being another classic game and a great advertisement for BUAFL.

Despite missing out on the final once again the Canes can still take solace from the fact that Stuart Holland wins our moustache of the year award! Mr Mustachio

Now we know the two teams playing in the final will come from the Northern side of the country. Who will win? Will the DW offence and hard hitting D earn Hallam the championship they think they deserve or will the well balanced offence of the Lions along with a turnover generating defence return the BUAFL Championship back to the Midlands?

Tune in next week to find out!

4 comments:

  1. How do you know so many names of players from so many different teams?? Its fantastic!

    ReplyDelete
  2. We spend time researching on teams websites and match reports to find out key players as well as asking players and coaches of the teams.

    Alas this can sometimes be haphazard as some teams don't keep their rosters up to date and we sometimes get things a little wrong, but we are improving!

    Thanks for the positive comments.

    ReplyDelete
  3. UWE vs Hallam It was Sam Nisbett who caught the interception in overtime, Just a heads up. Roster has changed since pre-season.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 'It was Sam Nisbett who caught the interception in overtime' No it wasnt coz this is all theoretical and nonsense.

      Delete

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