Author: Adam Goldstein

Adam is a well known figure in UK American Football, being recognised as an NFL superfan and author of Tailgate To Heaven.

Based in Oxfordshire, Adam is now Head Coach for the Oxford Lancers.

Oxford Lancers 2016/2017 – Season Preview

Head Coach Adam Goldstein breaks down the upcoming season

Adam Goldstein

On Sunday 13th November the Oxford Lancers travel to Bristol to face the UWE Bullets in their first game of the season.

With the promotion to Division 1 South West, we play UWE Bullets, Exeter Demons, Solent Redhawks and the Cardiff Cobras. We play two games this term and then six in the next term. We play our games at Oxford Brookes Wheatley campus and we always welcome anyone to come down and support our team.

View the 2016/2017 schedule

The team has changed dramatically over the course of the summer. Many of the vets that helped the Lancers go undefeated in the regular season last year have graduated, leaving just a small group of around 10 experienced players left.

The newly elected student Executive worked tirelessly to recruit, knowing full well that a squad size of mid twenties would simply not be enough now that the Lancers have been promoted to Division 1. We now sit at around 40 squad players, but during our first two pre-season games; Vs our Old Boys and then against local rivals, Oxford Brookes Panthers, we have picked up some injuries already.

However we can proudly say that going into this game we should be looking to kit up more players than ever before. Last year our Varsity game against Cambridge (which we won for the first time in team history) we had a team record of 28 kitted Lancers. We hope to break through the 30 mark on Sunday.

The game was played at Tilsley Park in Abingdon, which is also home to the Oxford Saints and provides excellent facilities for American Football.

Oxford Lancers VS Cambridge Pythons – Varsity Highlights

Coaching

From the coaching side we have shuffled a few things around too and picked up some great experienced coaches. Andy McKenzie (Head Coach who steered the Lancers turn around in 2014 to take us onto a 12 game win streak), moved away from Oxford. However he is still on the coaching roster as “football consultant”.

Our quarterback guru/coach Marcel (the Swiss national team quarterback) moved back to Switzerland. Our linebacker coach Thomas Casson has gone back to Loughborough to play for them in the Premiership and Jamie our defensive line coach and former Lancer has moved to London.

The team elected running back coach Adam Goldstein to be Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator, while Oxford Saints player and long standing Lancer coach, Ian Hiscock is now the defensive coordinator.

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We have brought in two other Saints players to help bolster the defense. The Saints’ 2016 Most improved Player, Deke Morton, is our new defensive line coach, while linebacker Rob Coates will be leading the linebackers for us this year. We have also added former Great Britian player Ronie Twumasi to coach the defensive backs.

On the offensive side of things, we are continuing with Johnny Lynn with the wide receivers, Adam with the running backs, former Lancer Ben Lacey with the offensive line and former Lancer quarterback Pan Christoforou with the quarterbacks.

VARSITY BOWL X – Oxford Lancers vs Cambridge Pythons

@ Tilsley Park THIS SATURDAY – 2:30 PM KICKOFF

May 7th brings one of the most anticipated American Football match-ups, pitting the two ancient English universities against each other in the oldest rivalry in sports.

It is the 5th match after the addition of American Football to BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport), and the revival of the American Football clubs at each university.

Cambridge have had the advantage in the four previous contests, which resulted in 1 draw and 3 wins for the Pythons.

However, this match-up will prove to be extremely competitive…

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The Oxford Lancers have been able to secure a promotion to Division 1 after an undefeated season, a playoff victory, and a narrow loss to the Portsmouth Destroyers in the Division 2 South final. The Lancers will be keen to prove their worth against an outfit in the division above.

The Pythons secured their promotion last season, and have had tough matches this season, only being able to win one game. They’ll be raring to keep their winning streak going against Oxford.

Tickets are £5 each which includes a shuttle bus from the centre of Oxford to Tilsley Park and back. The event is “BYOB”

Coach pick up is at St Aldates police station at 13:30 pm. Fans can buy tickets in advance, at the bus or on arrival at Tilsley Park.

For tickets in advance, please email Lancer secretary: [email protected]

More details about Tilsley Park are available here.

2016 Cavalier Cup – Lancers VS Panthers THIS SUNDAY

Super Bowl Sunday will be a big deal this year. Not only are the top two NFL teams going head to head in pursuit of the Vince Lombardi Trophy, but Oxford will be having it’s own showdown.

Each year the Cavalier Cup is up for grabs in the varsity game between The University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes University. Kick-off is at 1PM, Wheatley Campus.

The Oxford Lancers are currently riding high with an undefeated record and have turned their club around. After suffering back to back seasons without any victories, new fire has been breathed into the organisation and Head Coach Andrew McKenzie is leading the charge.

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Cross town rivals the OBU Panthers have had a troublesome time and will be looking to put behind their recent suspension from games and get back to winning on the field.

Taking on the Lancers will be their first contest since returning to training in 2016 and there is a trophy at stake. In 2015 the Lancers claimed victory over the Panthers and took home the Cavalier Cup, but will they keep hold of it for another season?

We spoke to both teams to get their views on the continuing rivalry.

Lancers coach Adam Goldstein said:

“The Panthers will be very hungry to get their season back on track after their three game suspension. We expect them to be very fired up to win some silverwear. We expect (as always ) a very tough battle. we haven’t lost in 8 games now and we are 4-0 on the season.”

“The Lancers won the 1st leg against OBU earlier in the season 13-12. If it is a tie on Sunday then it goes down to aggregate scoring between the teams, so it really will be a ‘win or lose the cup’ situation.”

” We haven’t lost in 8 games now and we are 4-0 on the season.”

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Currently the Cavalier’s Cup record is a tie, with both teams having won it twice.

A win for the Lancers on Sunday will demonstrate that after being whipping boys for several seasons, they are a vastly different team and are now THE team in Oxford to beat.

A win for the Panthers will help shore up their image, reclaim the trophy and put an end to the Lancers 8 game winning streak.

Panther president Ian Whitehead added:

“It’s the first game back for the Panthers after suspension and it couldn’t be a better opposition to return to action against, with team morale currently at its peak going into this fixture against our close rivals. The first game in which, aside from a few special teams errors and unlucky turnovers, was firmly in the Panthers’ favour, now sets up what’s sure to be a great match second time around.”

“After a period of detention, the Panthers are back with a renewed sense of determination, as well as a promising new quarterback looking to make his mark on the Cavalier’s Cup. This re-invigorated side is looking to put themselves back on the map as the strongest prospects in the division, and with nothing to lose the pressure mounts on Oxford to turn up and provide a great game.”

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Saints Connection

The Oxford Saints have connections with both University sides and both head coaches are former players for the Saints. OBU Head Coach Nick Wykes (below) is the Defensive-Coordinator/Assistant Head Coach for the Saints.

He is also a retired player and hall of fame member.

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Meanwhile in the Lancers camp, new Head Coach Andrew McKenzie had a spell with the Saints in 2014 at quarterback and previously to that, tight-end. An injury early in the 2014 season whilst playing against the Lincolnshire Bombers saw McKenzie’s season at QB for the Saints cut short.

Several current players for the Saints such as defensive lineman Toby Durant and free safety Ian Hiscock are involved in coaching the two University teams. With Hiscock at the Lancers and Durant at the Panthers, the Saints continues to support both teams and look forward to a thrilling contest.

The OBU Panthers have a history of sending talented players to the Saints, with star running back James Walter being a former Panther along with full back Ryan Kingshott (below) who is still playing for OBU. Both are back with the Saints for 2016.

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Photos courtesy of Chris Janes – Jamo’s Pics

Review of the Lancers 2014/2015 Season

About the Lancers

The Oxford University Lancers are one of two student American Football teams in Oxford.

After several struggling seasons against tough competition, the Lancers have changed their fortunes!

Read their season review below, written by Lancer quarterback Panayiotis Christoforou.


This was a season for the history books

After years of difficulty, the Oxford University Lancers were able to achieve their potential and end the season with a winning record, creating a solid basis for future success. This is the summary of how that happened.

lancers-scotttanFirst game of the season was against Anglia Ruskin University from Cambridge. It was the first test in a new division that our players did not take lightly. This manifested in a domination in all phases of the game. Notable highlights include WR/DB Stu Sanders’ hit on the KR on kickoff, rushing and receiving TDs for Jonny ‘Priest’ Brooks-Bartlett on two touches, and a total domination in the trenches by Matt Gore on both sides of the ball. Oxford Lancers 62 – 0 ARU Rhinos.

Second was the long trip to Canterbury to face Kent. Despite the domination of the defense, restricting them to 7 points, our offense had trouble getting off the ground. It was a hard, physical game that saw the injury of Matt Gore, the soul of the O-line. We were able to score on a deep fade pattern to X-receiver Ahmad Nasr, but to no avail. Kent 7 – 6 Oxford Lancers.

Third was our varsity game against Cambridge. Similar problems to the previous game, as our offense was unable to break through Cambridge’s stout front 7. Our defense was able to keep the game interesting, but a couple of broken plays allowed Cambridge to gain a commanding league. A tough loss. Cambridge 16 – Oxford 0.

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After the winter break and a coaching change, the Lancers were prepared to face our cross-town rivals, Oxford Brookes. A hard-hitting and physical encounter, Oxford implemented a new rushing attack to great effect (led by RB and LB Scott Tan), keeping the ball and scoring first. However, the opposing defences were stout all day, stalling offensive drives and keeping scoring low. Oxford won it on a scintillating KO return from Ian Simester, running 70 yards down the right sideline for a TD. Oxford were then able to hold on to the victory. Oxford Brookes 6 – Oxford Lancers 14.

After the cancellation of our fifth game that resulted in a W, the Lancers played UEA Pirates at home. The toughest match of the season, the Lancers out-manned and under-sized. Running the football was proving difficult, so Coach McKenzie moved to the passing attack, letting loose QB Will Szymanski and WR Adam Wong. A masterful two minute drive at the end of the first half saw the Lancers score. Luck and grit resulted in a Lancers win, after a missed FG from the Pirates. Lancers 8 – UEA 6.

hendrick-tightendThe final game of the season was against Essex. It was a chance to say goodbye to seniors and give playing opportunities to different players. Highlights include a TD reception from new OULAFC President Henk Schopmans, who had played OT all year and was able to get reps at TE, DE Belal Al-Halfawy terrorising the opposing QB with hits and sacks, and the shifty McCoy-esque running style of DB/RB Benjamin Grønvold. Essex 13 – 33 Oxford.

Special mention goes out to our coaches Andrew McKenzie, Adam Goldstein, Ian ‘Satnav’ Hiscock, Carl Marshall, Ben Lacey, and Matt Gore for their hard work, belief and dedication. Also to our season MVP Scott Tan, whose grit running the ball and shoring up the middle of our defense were the differences that made the Lancers soar. A truly remarkable season.


 

Summary

The Lancers finished third in the division with a 5-2 record.  Cambridge won the league with a 6-1 record, while Kent finished 5-2 (above the Lancers based on the head to head record).

This was the first time the Lancers have ever finished with a higher record over cross town rivals, the OBU Panthers (4-3).

Season Awards

MVP: Scott Tan (MLB/RB)
Defensive MVP: Jonny ‘Priest’ Brooks. (WR/RB/DE)
Offensive MVP: Will Szymanski (Qb)
Hammer award (Lineman of the year): Benedict ‘HitMe’ Shillito (RG/WLB)
Rookie of the Year: Peter Graham (CB)
Most Improved player: Benedict ‘HitMe’ Shillito (RG/WLB)
TD of the year: Jonny ‘Priest’ Brooks. 80yd td run vs Essex
Champagne moment of the year: Defeating OBU for the Cavaliers Cup


 

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Cavaliers VS Panthers/Lancers – Old Boys Game

Cavalier Old Boys beat the Panthers & Lancers: 12-6

The Oxford Cavaliers were an American Football team which competed in the university leagues. It was a joint squad composed of players from both the University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes University.

Changes to the league format meant that the team had to disband, which paved the way for the Oxford Universities to field their own teams: The Oxford Brookes Panthers and the University of Oxford Lancers.

In 2014 a special game was arranged where retired former Cavalier players would take on the new generation of student players in Oxford.

Last week a rematch was played when the Cavalier Old Boys returned for more action. In 2014 it was only against the Oxford Brookes Panthers, due to the fixture being out of term time for the Lancers. Though this year both Oxford teams combined (nicknamed the “Lanthers”) to take on the Cavaliers.


There were some interesting story lines going into this one, with coaches playing against or with their former students. Current Lancer coach and Oxford Saints defensive back Ian Hiscock, who kitted up for the Cavaliers, certainly has to be the face of Oxford football. He used to play for the Cavaliers when they existed, then he had a stint with the Panthers after the split.

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As a existing coach of the Lancers, he was eligible to compete alongside the Lanthers, but he decided to go with the Old Boys and represent his old team. His presence inspired 4 Lancers to go up against their enthusiastic coach.

With the Panthers hosting the game at their Wheatley Campus, they contributed 22 of their current players, kitting up in their Panther grey and green Pro Bowl style jerseys. The 3 Lancer players put on their cross town rival kit too, while the Cavaliers wore a mix of their old navy blue Cavalier jerseys and some old Panther maroon ones.11057457_10155318822990483_4515966823659227007_o

To boost the numbers on the Lanthers, three Panther coaches kitted up, Chris Ellis, Toby Durant and James Water, while Panther Head Coach Nick Wykes and Lancer Head Coach Andy McKenzie refereed the game.

Some of the common penalties were observed but overall the game played well the referees allowed the contest to flow at a good pace.

In the first few drives there were several fumbles. The Lanthers played their own play book with their quarterback Harry Brookmyre calling the plays in the huddle, and Panther President Julian Wakeford organising the depth chart on the sidelines. The Cavaliers were coached by their old coach Phil De Monte.


 

Brad Maybury – Panther wide receiver

Last year,  De Monte’s team won in a close game, but could he do it twice against the current Panthers who now also host some Lancer players on their squad?

The Lanthers quickly figured out that running the ball was going to be tough, especially up the middle. The Old Boys had muscle up front and could hit hard. So the Lanthers elected to pick on the secondary with quick passes instead.

It seemed like for the whole first half, speedy Panther receiver Brad Maybury was wide open on every play. The Panthers were enjoying themselves and they were designing plays on the sideline to implement moments later. The pitch to James Waters who lined up at runningback to then throw it deep to Brad Maybury was certainly one of the best plays of the game.

The Lanthers struck first; it was a perfect pass from Panther qb Harry Brookymre to Brad Maybury, who beat a defender for the td. Though two point conversion was unsuccessful. To keep things safe, there were no special teams, so when it came to punting the referees moved the ball 30 yards from the line of scrimmage.

The dry weather allowed for a lot of passing and the Old Boys got their passing game going especially with the receivers running plenty of hitch routes, soon scoring a touchdown themselves. The pass was caught by former Panther runningback Jay Smith and but their two point conversion was also unsuccessful and it was a tie game at 6-6.

997064_10155318894595483_2357803564243695718_nThe game was fun to watch with the Old Boys demonstrating a strong desire to win. The Panthers rotated a lot of players and wanted to stay fresh because the following Saturday they were to play their Varsity game against Reading. This allowed the Lancer players to get plenty of field time. At one stage, all four of them lined up as a defensive front four.

On one particular play the Old Boys runningback sliced through them and Panther coach Chris Ellis had to clean up the tackling at linebacker. Still three of the Lancers got a sack each on the day. If any Lancers came out as a wide receiver or tight end, their DB/WR coach Ian Hiscock came down on the line to play a little man coverage on his students.

With the game tied the Lanthers were driving. Jonny “Priest” Brooks, the Lancers defensive MVP and WR/RB broke outside on a run play that got everyone cheering, and feeling that maybe the run game might just work. Though after moving the chains and getting plenty of momentum, the Old Boys picked off Harry Brookmyre, who then made a touchdown saving tackle.


Panther Coach Chris Ellis – Linebacker

With time running out, the players began asking what would happen in over time if it were to occur. Yet over time was not needed…

The Old Boys looked like they had been stopped in the red zone, if not for James Walter to make a huge late tackle. The penalty was called by Nick Wykes, his coaching colleague at the Panthers. This gave the Old Boys a fresh set of downs, and it was Jay Smith once again in the end zone who caught his second touchdown of the day. They could not convert the two point conversion and the Old Boys were 6-12 up with 30 seconds to go.

With a long field the Lanthers needed one great long play. Wakeford called up the deadly duo of Walter and Maybury, and dialled in the trick play that got them so many yards in the first half. This time the Old Boys were covering far better. Though with 30 seconds to go, they naturally played with a very deep secondary. Walter zipped in a low pass down the middle, and it was beautifully intercepted by a diving Old Boy defender…

The game was over, and the Old Boys won for the second straight year.team photo


Next year we all hope that more Lancers can be involved, not just for the current team, but it would be great to see some former Lancers play on the Old Boys side too. Although a couple of players had sadly gone off injured, the day was a big success.

Certainly the banter on the Lanthers sidelines was lively and fun with the OBU Panthers welcoming their Lancer brothers. The Old Boys captain lifted the Cavalier Cup, as it was “loaned” to him for some pictures. The Lancers certainly did not want to part with the team’s first piece of silverware for too long.

Both teams felt the game was a tribute to the growing football community in Oxford, and long may the Old Boys game continue to grow.

Written by Adam Goldstein

The Lancers have a new facebook page https://www.facebook.com/oxfordlancersOUAF and a new twitter page, @oxfordlancers so please give them a like/follow!


 

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Lancers beat Essex and finish season 5-2

Lancers end their fantastic 2014/2015 season with a trip to Essex, and a 33-12 victory!

Several graduating Lancer players, who had previously left the club earlier in the season for academic reasons, made one last hoorah and decided to kit up one more time. This allowed the Lancers to field a record 25 players, all be it with a few of them being rusty.

While the Lancers were riding high after their defeat over divisional favourites, UEA Pirates the week before, they were not taking this game lightly. A potential second spot was up for grabs, and the Essex Blades took the Cambridge Pythons (eventual title winners) to double over time the week before.

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The game did not begin at the scheduled time and after 20 minutes had passed, the Lancers were told that the official referees were not going to make it. Initially it was decided that because Essex (as the home team) could not field referees, they had to forfeit the game which would grant he Lancers a 0-1 victory.

Thankfully the Lancers had with them two level 1 BAFCA coaches, the Blades themselves had one too. This meant the game could technically still be played and be officiated by the coaching staff.

Lancer President and free safety Tom Fox, who due to an injury had not played since the Lancers were defeated by Cambridge in December, had to make a decision. He could take the 0-1 win  (and then conduct a scrimmage/ joint training session with Essex) or accept to play the game and run the risk of losing, or winning but potentially give up vital defensive points.

In this league when teams are tied and the head to head records are even, the next tie break is points relinquished. So rather ironically a 0-1 victory is better than the eventual 12-33 win. Tom and his teammates wanted to play for real and did not want to walk away with a gifted win.

So two Lancer coaches, Adam Goldstein and Ben Lacey, joined an Essex coach and the match kicked off with a constantly rolling game clock.


 

Essex shock the Lancers Defense

The Lancers kicked off and the Blades opted to run the ball on their first play. The Lancers were concerned about Essex attempting a pitch play, that they left the middle wide open. On their second play, the Essex runningback sliced through the Lancer line and out ran the secondary for a 60 yard running touchdown. The point after was no good and the home team were 6 points up very quickly. It was as if the Lancers still thought this was going to be a scrimmage instead of an official game.

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On the kick-off, Essex went with a squib kick but the Lancers recovered the ball in Essex territory.

Facing 3rd and long, Lancer Quarterback Will Szymanski got away from two rushers and fired the ball to receiver Adam Wong for a crucial 7 yard gain and a first down. The pass was contentious as it looked like the ball may have hit the ground during the catch, yet it was the Essex coaches’ call as it was on his sideline.

Despite his own players waving that the catch was incomplete, the Essex coach signalled that it was a completion and awarded Oxford the first down. This 9 play 31 yard drive was exactly what the Lancers needed and Will Szymanski punched the ball into the endzone with a three yard QB run. He then kicked the extra point himself, making it 6-7 to the Lancers.


 

Fumbling leads to nothing

Although it was a windy day there was no rain, both teams started to fumble the ball. First Essex fumbled from their kick return, but the Lancers could not do much with the short field and gave the ball back while going for it on 4th down. Essex then went three and out before Will Szymanski fumbled on another QB run. Essex could not capitalise either and they had to punt quickly.

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Priest-Mode

Oxford Head Coach Andy McKenzie was aware that for at least eight of his players, this was their last time kitting up and he wanted to make sure everyone got plenty of playing time. This meant that Jonny Priest Brooks, one of the Lancers’ crucial Ironmen for the season, was mainly playing on defense.

However Oxford were starting their next drive from their own 20 and needed a bit of magic. On a sweep play Priest looked like he was going to get hammered in the back field by the Essex lineman. He made a swift spin move inside, cut away from a linebacker and just like the Essex running back before him, he out raced the secondary for a glorious touchdown. The pat was no good and the score was 6-13.

With Essex back in possession, a couple of Lancer players who had taken time away from football made three encroachments fouls in four plays giving up yards, followed by a Essex pass for 15 over the middle. But all of Essex’s momentum was lost after they then fumbled the ball, and Priest was there to pounce.

With a series of runs and screen passes the Lancers put together another impressive drive: 10 plays and 40 yards. Although they did not convert on 4th down, they showed that they can move the chains and control the game on offense.


 

The near perfect drive to start the 2nd half

With the Lancers receiving the ball to begin the 2nd half, they put together an immense drive that practically took up the whole 3rd quarter. The Lancers rotated three runningbacks and notched up 70 yards over 13 plays, converting twice on 4th down. However at the 2 yard line, Szymanski was intercepted in the endzone and Essex cornerback was tackled at the 2 yard line as he tried to win back some field position.

This was Essex’s opportunity to get back into this game but they fumbled at the line of scrimmage. Oxford’s Scott Tan was there to pick up the loose ball and bring the Lancer offense back onto the field.

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Ben “Viking” Gronvold, who was enjoying his transition from receiver to Runningback, scored from two yards out for a rushing touchdown. The point after attempt was no good and the Lancers were 6-20 up.

Following the kick-off, Essex started their drive on the 15 yard line. They attempted a pitch play and another fumble added to their woes. The ball bobbled 15 yards into the end zone and Priest was there once more. He dived on the ball for another Lancer touchdown. The point after attempt was no good and it was now looking like a one sided affair at 6-26 to Oxford.


 

Potential comeback

During the 4th quarter following a huge sack, Essex were forced to punt the ball back to Oxford. After a few plays their luck changed and Essex intercepted a pass from a screen play and returned it all the way for a touchdown giving their home crowd a big lift. The two point conversion attempt was thwarted and the score stood at 12-26 to Oxford. Essex however were back in the game and went for an onside kick attempt as they hoped to maintain possession of the ball. Thoughts of a Essex comeback were short lived, as the Lancers received the ball following the failed onside kick attempt.

Oxford’s Hendrick Schopmans changed his jersey number and lined up at Tight end. The huge German, who had played the position in his home country, had been asked to play on the offensive and defensive line all season long. His hands were a little rusty and failed to haul in any of the passes that were thrown his way.

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After some tough running from Gronvold and Szymanski, the Lancers were at the 15 yard line. The Essex players then made a bad read in the secondary leaving Hendrick Schopmans wide open. He dived to the floor to scoop up a low pass for the touchdown. In his excitement he spiked the ball ‘Gronk style’ and was given a fifteen yard penalty for un-sportsman like conduct, but his touchdown remained.

With Symanski adding the point after it was now 12-33 to Oxford.

In their final two drives, Essex went to the air and attempted pass after pass which resulted in four sacks for the Lancers, two from rookie Belal El-Halfawy in his first game.

The game capped off what was an excellent 5-2 season for the Lancers. The game MVPs have not yet been decided as the coaches need further time to analyse the film.


 

Around the division

Cambridge beat Kent to take the division with a 6-1 title winners.

Oxford Brookes were beaten by UEA leaving Oxford Lancers, UEA and Kent all on a 5-2 record. It was a three way tie for second place because UEA had beaten Kent, Kent beat Oxford and Oxford beat UEA. So it came down to points allowed.

Kent finished second with 40 points allowed, followed by the Lancers with 47 and the Pirates came 4th. So overall the 0-1 forefeit win offered to the Lancers before the game took place would have gave them 2nd place, but the team would rather finish third and know this was a real win.

Oxford Brookes finished fifth with a 4-3 record. They were the only team in the division to have beaten Cambridge, the eventual division winner.

Written by Adam Goldstein