Wednesday, 22 February 2012

BUAFL Match report: Solent's Run Continues

The BNU Buccaneers took a small squad ravaged by injuries to the in form Solent Redhawks last Sunday to try and kick start their season. With the regular season starting to enter the final straight in the BUAFL's most competitive conference, all was on the line.

Both teams are full of quality, but had come away unlucky losers in a few of their contests.  BNU sitting with a record of 2-3 having lost some cracking matches like the 52-48 shootout with the undefeated Southampton Stags.  Solent were looking to build on their form after toppling the national champions and were hunting for a 4th win in a row.

BNU wore a special number 79 decal on their helmets in Solent red and white in memory of fallen Redhawk Rich Baker.

The visitors took the ball first and immediately stamped their intentions into the Solent endzone with a well executed 61 yard play from Danny Wallace.  Wallace also punched in the 2 pointer.

Solent then went 54 yards in 9 plays with a 13 yard option from QB Seb Sanders-Rivas putting TB Tom Borsay into the endzone.  BNU then blocked the PAT but were ruled offside.  Solent didn’t miss a second time. Solent 7-8 BNU

BNU started their 2nd drive on their own 32 and drove into Solent territory, but an unsportsmanlike penalty on the BNU Head Coach Luke Plastow for telling a ref a DL was offside nullified a big wedge play. The long first down was no trouble for the Double Wing offence as RB James Donz bust an 18 yard sideline run.  Tacked onto the end of this was a 15 yard penalty on Solent, which put the Buccaneers in the Solent Redzone. However BNU could not convert the trip to the end zone into points and turned the ball over on Solent's 5 yard line.

With 95 yards facing their offence, Solent knuckled down and 4 plays of 18 yards or more took them into the endzone with a 22 yard pass to Nick Parker from Sanders-Rivas. BNU's turnover issues reared their ugly heads again as a James Donz fumble turned the ball over on the next drive.

Solent ate more time off the clock and punted to BNU with 20 seconds left.  BNU ran a play to see out the half but another Donz fumble stripped from him was returned to the BNU 4 yard line by the Solent D.

Despite the 1st and goal at the 4 with 3 timeouts, Solent couldn’t punch it in against a BNU defence desperately trying to make up for an offensive error.  A strong defensive showing as time expired sent BNU into halftime buoyant despite being 13-8 down.  Solent took to the changing rooms while BNU stayed on the field.

With both teams running the ball early and often, the clock was being eaten up at a rapid rate. BNU hit 174 yards of offence with Solent at 158.  BNU wing back Danny Wallace led the rushing in the match with 85 yards and a TD. Solent QB Sebastian Sanders-Rivas had 2 completions for 36 yards and a TD.

BNU assessed the injury statuses on their squad and started the second half without six starters lost in the physical first half.  Solent took the ball first in the 2nd half and on their third play fumbled it away and the recovery by LB Matt Clark set BNU up on their own 39 yard line.  Power running by last weeks MVP, Adam Stammers, drew in the Solent defence before James Donz could make up for his earlier fumbles with a 41 yard TD down the sideline.

With the kicker out, BNU turned to offensive lineman Adam Austin to belt one downfield and instead of hoofing it far downfield he sliced it to a surprised Solent player who couldn't get control of the ball and muffed the kick for BNU DB Chris Geldard to recover.

BNU couldn’t take advantage of this luck and gave the ball back to Solent around halfway.  Another time consuming drive by the ever efficient Solent O ended with Sanders-Rivas taking in an 5 yard bootleg to regain the lead for Solent.

The PAT was blocked and the score sat at 19-14 to Solent with the 3rd coming to an end.  With rookies filling gaps on D and the starting backfield either out or limping for BNU they turned the ball over on downs and at the start of the 4th a 5 play drive by the Redhawks was topped off by a 40 yard reverse by Nick Parker giving him 1 through the air and 1 on the ground.  With the 2 points added the score was 27-13 to the Redhawks. 

BNU lost another 2 offensive starters and the sides swapped possession. Adam Stammers still powering up the middle with blood coming from a broken nose and suspected knee damage.  Danny Wallace was unable to kick but with tape on his ankle and holding the ball in his good hand they pieced to together a no huddle 90 second 72 yard drive. With just 39 seconds left Wallace rocked in from 13 yards taking out the pylon.  

The 2 point went in on the same play call, but Wallace didn’t get up and needed assistance off the field with a suspected cracked rib sustained on the play. The subsequent onside kick failed and Solent kneeled the clock away.

BNU ended up with 384 total yard off 48 plays compared to Solent 289 but Solent won the turnover battle comfortably.  3 BNU RBs hit 100 yard on the day with James Donz at 109, 1TD.  Adam Stammers 100 yard. Danny Wallace 161 and 2 TDs off 16 carries.  The Great Britain Lions failed trialists had a point to prove today and got consisted yardage through injury, although their consistent fumble issues will cause concern for such a run heavy offence.

 BNU Head Coach Luke Plastow had this to say:

“This was a playoff game in the regular season.  We had guys showing guts I never though they had, and picking themselves up after big hits and injuries and going back with gritted teeth.  Solent executed on both sides of the ball and deserved the win.  They run the offence how we planned but on the day they had our number.  We had an idea what they would run in each situation and most of the time they time we stopped them.  But the X factor of the broken plays and the reverse caught us out.

We were missing our big FB Durwane Watson today through an injury he picked up against Holloway and that affected us on both sides of the ball.  We still averaged 8 yards a carry but those fumbled haunted us again. I think the Solent DL were fantastic today and stuffed many of our runs and made the backfield make a play.  Not many teams can do that.  I am not exaggerating when I say that the Solent Redhawks are the toughest team we’ve faced this year.  They are a championship playoff team and they are struggling to make the plate.”

Solent Head Coach Martin Hume:

“Credit to both teams who fought to the end and BNU demonstrated enough heart for a squad of 60. Solent now looks forward to Imperial and the opportunity to finish the season with a winning record if they can win out.  The Solent Redhawks offense worked hard all day having to regularly drive long distances to control field position and score. By utilising several key ball handlers the Redhawks were able to keep BNU guessing enough that there was no clear read.

The Redhawks defense really had to work hard and learnt how to grind to the end today. Really understanding how to work on every down for the whole game it gelled the unit together as the constant battle with the never say die BNU offense tested most of the rookies beyond what they have experienced before.  If Solent are fortunate enough to make the plate round of the playoffs the team have learnt how to play to the final whistle to ensure concentration doesn't slip.”

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