Game statistics PDF available here Oxford Saints VS Bristol Apache 21.06.15
The Bristolian Empire Strikes Back…
Last weekend the Oxford Saints travelled to Bristol to take on the Apache, in what was built up to be a thrilling rematch… It did not disappoint.
Although the Apache came out winners, an extremely close and exciting game was a testament to American Football in the UK.
Earlier in the season the Apache visited Oxford and were defeated in a nail-biting 35-34 finish, which saw Oxford come back from behind against all odds to snatch victory. This time the game was just as close and no less intense.
With home field advantage and coming off a 3 game winning streak, Bristol were riding high. Confidence and morale was up following a 57-0 thrashing of the Torbay Trojans and the Apache were excited for the opportunity to replay the Saints.
Oxford received the kickoff to begin the game and first year quarterback Ben Denton led the Saints offense onto the field. Strong running from Grant Tebb and Kev Brooks moved the ball well against the Apache defense and they were nearing the endzone. A 16 yard reception by tight end James Walter who charged across the goal line opened the scoring within just a few minutes. Spencer Duffy kicked the extra point, 7-0 Oxford.
Bristol looked to answer back quickly and picked up good yards on the ground whilst picking up first downs, approaching the Saints endzone. A completed pass from quarterback James Carter over the middle for 11 yards gave the Apache a first down and showcased their dangerous ability for precision passing. Bristol went to the air again but the pass was intercepted by a diving Oxford safety Martin Fitzpatrick, bringing an end to the aggressive drive.
The offense took over from the 19 yard line and struggled to get the ball moving after a 10 yard penalty flag and then a 9 yard sack on Denton. Fullback Ryan Kingshott charged through and recovered some of the lost yards, but the offense were forced to punt the ball away on 4th down.
Taking over on the Oxford half of the field, Bristol continued to find success on the ground by running the ball, aided further by a damaging 15 yard penalty against the Saints, pushing them further back against their own endzone. Apache’s powerful running back Jon Walters took the ball and crossed the goal line, putting his team onto the scoreboard. Royce kicked the extra point, tied game 7-7.
With Oxford back in possession, running from Grant Tebb and Mike Oluwole picked up another Saints first down, before a fumbled ball during a handoff was recovered by the Bristol defense. The Apache capitalised on the momentum swing by continuing to move the ball on the ground, with Jon Walters quickly smashing into the endzone for his second score of the game. Royce kicked the extra point, 14-7 Bristol.
With the Saints offense back on the field, James Walter lined up at running back and was on his usual excellent form. With strong running and his ability to evade would-be tacklers, Walter picked up huge yardage and helped move Oxford down the field.
With the Saints knocking on the door of Bristol’s endzone, the first quarter came to a close and the teams switched sides before the impressive drive was capped off with a Grant Tebb touchdown, running into the endzone for another 6 points. Duffy kicked the extra point and the game was tied again, 14-14.
Carter and the Apache looked to retaliate swiftly and returned to their air attack, picking up a first down. With the Saints defense adding pressure, rookie defensive-end Conor Whitehouse landed a big hit on Carter in the backfield, costing Bristol 5 yards.
On the following play, what looked like a run play from Alex DeCaro quickly turned into a pass, as he launched the ball deep down field. With the ball sailing through the air, wide receiver Frederick Marshall was able to catch the uncontested pass and strode into the endzone for a shock touchdown. The extra point by Royce was good, and Bristol took the lead again 21-14.
When Oxford and Bristol last met earlier in the season, the Saints were down 28-6 as the 2nd quarter came to a close, but it was clear to all involved that today was a completely different ball game.
In true Saints style, Ben Denton led a relentless march downfield with more strong running from Brooks, Tebb and Walter. Although no break out runs, the offense continued to move the ball a few yards at a time and were picking up first downs against a struggling defense. To mix up the long drive, Denton targeted tight end Rich Bloomer who caught a 9 yard pass, picking up another much needed first down.
With the endzone in front of them, the 18 play drive ended with a touchdown from James Walter as he charged in from the 1 yard line. Duffy’s kick was good and the game was tied once again, 21-21.
Coming back onto the field following the half time break, a revitalised Apache offense put together a fast and brutal drive. After picking up nearly 30 yards on the ground in two plays, Carter looked to the air and a jump ball was hauled in by a Bristol receiver for a 24 yard gain. Carter threw the ball again over the middle of the endzone and DeCaro caught the touchdown pass. Royce’s kick was good, 28-21 Bristol.
Desperate to end the game of cat and mouse and wanting to hold on to a lead, Bristol’s defense stood firm and stopped the Oxford ground attack on the following drive, forcing another punt.
Bristol pressed their advantage and continued to pass the ball with precision. With memories still fresh in their minds of how Oxford came from behind to claim victory earlier in the year, the Apache would not take their foot off the gas this time…
A series of completed passes and penalties against the Oxford defense took the Apache into the endzone, with another connection between Carter and DeCaro for the score. Royce remained on form and kicked the extra point, extending the lead 35-21 Bristol.
With plenty of football still to play, Denton handed the ball to Brooks who stormed up field for 28 yards on two plays. The ball was then given to Tebb who demonstrated his excellent ability to outrun pursuers and get into space, as he sprinted clear for a 58 yard touchdown, giving the Oxford sideline a huge morale boost. Duffy attempted the extra point kick but it leaned to the left and missed it’s target, depriving the Saints of an additional point which would prove crucial in the later stages of the game.
The next drive for Bristol was cut short when a fumbled ball was hastily recovered by Saints linebacker Dean Bryan, presenting an opportunity for a momentum swing and granting the Oxford offense access to the field. With the ball in the capable hands of Walter, he picked up a first down on three carries before Tebb broke out for another big run, picking up 27 yards.
Fast becoming a deadly duo combination, Walter and Tebb’s powerful running had quickly brought the endzone within their sights. Denton handed the ball off to Walter who ran into the endzone for a 15 yard score. Looking to go for a two point conversion, the ball was given to Walter but he was unable to cross the line, 35-33 Bristol.
With the score too close for comfort, Bristol’s offense were desperate to recover a safer lead. With strong running by Jon Walters, the Apache continued to find success by moving the ball on the ground up the middle, meanwhile Oxford’s defense continued to draw penalty flags and give up additional yards to the aggressors. Carter continued to target his Bristolian teammates in the air with success and found his favoured receiver DeCaro for a 5 yard score. Royce remained perfect with his extra point kick, 42-33 Bristol.
In the final minutes of the 3rd quarter, Denton and the Saints were marching across the field with determination as Walter broke out for a big 40 yard run. Denton then targeted tight end Toby Durant in the corner of the endzone but the Bristol defense kept him covered and the ball fell incomplete. On 4th down, Denton dropped back to pass again and hit veteran receiver Sam Armstrong in stride, picking up the 10 yard touchdown. The ball was then handed off to Walter who broke through the Bristol line and claimed the much needed 2 extra points. 42-41 Bristol.
Entering the final quarter of this fast paced shoot out, both teams continued to fight hard and strived to deal a finishing blow to the other. Bristol had established their dangerous passing game with multiple scores from receiver DeCaro. On the ground, the Apache would routinely call on the services of their power running back Jon Walters, who the Saints often struggled to contain.
Meanwhile for Oxford, the discipline from Denton under centre and destructive running from Tebb and Walter continued to keep the Apache on edge, knowing either player could break out for another big run at any time.
On their next drive Bristol kept the ball on the ground but the Oxford defense held strong and forced the punt, aided by some key tackles from Spencer Duffy in at linebacker.
Taking over from their own 19 yard line, Walter and Tebb tried to find space to work but a steadfast Apache defense kept them short of the first down. Attempting to punt the ball away and create some breathing room, Walter’s punt was deflected by an Apache player and the ball rolled into the backfield, before being secured by Walter.
With Oxford’s defense having to make a stand from their own 5 yard line, a Bristol score seemed inevitable. Carter first looked to pass but it fell incomplete. On the following play the ball came loose and defensive end Conor Whitehouse dived to recover the fumble, ending the dangerous Apache drive. The Saints offense took over from the 7 yard line and determined running from the Walter/Tebb duo moved the ball well but a 15 yard penalty struck a damaging blow and Oxford were forced to punt again. As Walter looked to punt, an Apache linebacker pushed through the line and added pressure resulting in another deflected punt, granting Bristol excellent field position from the Oxford 24 yard line.
Requiring another strong stand, the Saints defense kept it together as Carter attempted two passes and only managed to pick up a 3 yard completion. A 6 yard run then brought Bristol just 1 yard short of a potentially game-ending first down, but a fumbled ball on 4th down forced the turnover and brought the Oxford offense out.
Denton handed the ball off to Brooks who swiftly picked up a first down and then a further 8 yards on his next two carries. Still deep in Oxford’s own territory and time running out, Denton looked to pass and targeted rookie receiver Tom Swift, narrowly missing out on what could have been a touchdown reception. On 4th down Denton dropped back and targeted receiver Devon Powell on the same route and once again the ball fell incomplete just inches away from the intended receivers hands.
Carter and the Apache came out for their final drive of the game knowing that a single first down would likely seal the deal. Giving the ball to their running back, he picked up 5 yards before being gang tackled to the ground by the Oxford defense. Another handoff gained the Apache a further 4 yards before being tackled by defensive end Adam Baker, just short of a first down. On 3rd down with just a single yard needed, Duffy stopped the runner in his tracks for no gain.
Faced with a 4th and 1 yard situation, the defining moment of the game was here. Bristol needed just a single yard to effectively bring the nerve-racking contest to an end and Oxford needed one more stop to give Denton and his offense one last chance. The ball was snapped to Carter and with a Saints linebacker wrapping up his legs, he lunged forward in an attempt to earn the solitary yard they needed.
With the call too close to judge, the game officials summoned the chain crew so the distance could be measured, with both teams eagerly watching and waiting. The officials carefully assessed the ball position and declared that the ball had reached it’s target by just a matter of inches, with the tip crossing the invisible line. With the game all but over, the Apache offense took a knee on the remaining plays to run out the clock and bring the game to a close.
With another thrilling game in the books, the Saints and the Apache have fought two unrivalled games which were both decided by just a single point. Combined, the score between the two teams currently stands as 76-76 and there is every chance of the two sides meeting for a third time in the playoffs.
Assessment of game film is already under way and the Saints have a week of practice before the Swindon Storm come to town.
Bristol Head Coach Adam Davies shared his thoughts with us following the game:
“Sunday’s game was a belter and we always knew it would be.”
“Apache knew in their hearts that the first game against the Saints should have ended differently, so approached this game with something to prove. I have never seen my team more fired up and motivated before a game.”
“However, we knew that the Saints had improved since our first encounter and that they had been scouting us a lot; so we knew that this wasn’t going to be easy.”
“On the day both teams fought hard and never gave up. I was impressed by both teams and the way in which they conducted themselves. Emotions were high and there was a real lust for victory in the eyes of every player I looked at, both on the side lines and on the field. ”
“I am pleased to say that the Apache offence was outstanding and the Apache D continued to adjust and Apache came out with the W, but it was close. A well fought battle and a testament to two quality teams in the division.”
“I wish Oxford all the best and will not be surprised to see them in the playoffs.”
SFCW – Division II
|5||Jurassic Coast Raptors||0||2||0||113||L2|
A battle of two different philosophies as Oxford’s ground and pound attack faced off against Bristol’s precision aerial assault.
With huge plays and exceptional talent on both teams, the statistics show that Oxford and Bristol combined for just short of 1,000 offensive yards, creating a high scoring and explosive game for the watching supporters.
The Saints powerful offense picked up 450 yards on the ground but only 44 in the air. The Apache meanwhile claimed an even spread of 235 rushing yards and a further 206 through passing.
Both teams remained remarkably close throughout the game with 6 TD’s each and an average gain of 6.06 yards per play for Oxford versus 6.61 for Bristol.
QB vs QB
Oxford’s Ben Denton attempted 12 passes with 4 completions, throwing 2 TD’s.
Bristol’s James Carter favoured the pass, 23 attempts with 13 completions, throwing 4 TD’s and 1 Interception.
Oxford stat leaders – Offense
Tight end/running back James Walter had another stunning performance picking up 170 yards on 26 carries for an average of 6.5 yards per play and 2 TD’s on the ground. Walter also hauled in 1 pass for 16 yards and a further TD.
Tight end/running Grant Tebb also excelled in his first year with the Saints, picking up 156 yards on 16 carries for an average of 9.8 yards per play and 2 TD’s on the ground. Tebb also caught 1 pass for 9 yards.
Running back Kev Brooks continues to deliver the goods after a strong performance in his 2014 rookie year. He picked up 109 yards on 17 carries for an average of 6.4 yards per play.
Wide receiver Sam Armstrong was the other scorer catching a vital 10 yard TD pass in the endzone.
Oxford stat leaders – Defense
On the defense it was the secondary unit who saw plenty of action, with cornerback Michael Turner claiming 8 tackles, free safety Michael Bearman with 7 and Chris Fox with 5.
Rookie defensive end Conor Whitehouse landed 1 sack on the QB and also recovered a fumble. A further fumble recovery came from linebacker Dean Bryan.
Martin Fitzpatrick claimed the single interception of the game with a diving grab.
Team MVP – Tight end/running back Grant Tebb for exceptional running and dedication to the team.
Offensive MVP – Full back Ryan Kingshott for explosive blocking throughout the game.
Defensive MVP – No award from the coaches for the defensive unit. It was recognised as a collective effort with every member of the defence stepping up, making their mark on the game and making a single players performance irrelevant.
Special teams MVP – No award from the coaches for the special teams unit. Performance was deemed below standards across the board.
Game statistics PDF available here Oxford Saints VS Bristol Apache 21.06.15
The first few photos courtesy of Chris Janes – Jamo’s Pics photography have been uploaded with more on their way. Check out his excellent work below.
[fb_embed_post href=”https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.858229510920114.1073741981.390191134390623&type=3/” width=”550″/]
With two games left in the regular season, the Saints are still in a strong position to make the playoffs and coming up next is the Swindon Storm.
Join us on 5th July at Abingdon Rugby Club as we host our nearest rivals.
Entrance is free and there will be a licensed bar serving drinks along with hot food from the ‘Saints Diner’.
There is plenty of parking space available and families are welcome.
Written by James Dunstan
Photography courtesy of Chris Janes – Jamo’s Pics