OXFORD SUFFER 2ND HEAVY LOSS IN 3 WEEKS
On Sunday 23rd July the Saints hope for playoff football took a blow when they were on the wrong side of a 40-21 scoreline in Southampton.
With QB/RB James Walter unavailable for the game and running back Tony Glover in a limited capacity, the Saints were without their two main weapons on offense and the difference showed.
Oxford struck first despite having to punt on their opening drive when a Solent player touched the ball, making it available to be claimed by either team. With the Saints diving on the ball, the offense came back out with improved field position.
With 2nd year quarterback Kyle Swann leading the unit, he connected with veteran receiver Sam Armstrong for a 24 yard gain and just short of the goal line.
The ball was then handed to Antonios Athanasiou who ran it in for the touchdown from 1 yard out. Sam Fielden kicked the extra point to give the Saints the early lead.
Oxford’s defense claimed a 1 yard sack on Solent’s drive as Conor Whitehouse brought down quarterback Bradley Sawyers behind the line.
On the next play however, a mis-aligned coverage resulted in Sawyers completing a deep pass to Dayle Greenfield for a 63 yard touchdown. Samuel Scott attempted to run the ball in for a 2 point conversion but failed.
The Thrashers moved the ball well and in the 2nd quarter Sawyers connected with Greenfield again, this time for a 45 yard touchdown. Scott ran through to add the extra 2 points.
On their next drive, they kept the ball on the ground and picked up several first downs as they approached the endzone. Tom Borsay added their next score running in from 1 yard out, with another failed 2 point conversion.
HALF TIME 20-7 SOLENT
With Oxford down by two scores at the half, the Saints defense were struggling to stop the big passing plays from Sawyers and Greenfield, along with their own offense being slow to make gains.
The Saints defenders made a stop at the beginning of the 3rd quarter with Whitehouse tackling the ball carrier for a loss on 4th down.
Both teams exchanged possession of the ball but it remained on the Saints half of the field, with the Thrashers unable to score and the Saints unable to make consistent yards.
A 23 yard run from Solent took them to the goal line and Borsay broke the deadlock. The ball was not put in place for the extra point kick and the attempt was no good.
The Saints found relief early in the 4th quarter with Swann completing a 27 yard pass to rookie receiver Dre Kays. Tony Glover came onto the field for the first time in the game and combined with Luke Fry for first downs.
On 4th down, Swann completed a quick pass to Charlie Day for a 12 yard gain and the offense gained a crucial first down.
From 6 yards out, Richard Bloomer received the ball on a reverse play and ran into the endzone for Oxford’s first score since the first quarter. Glover added the extra 2 points.
Despite the Saints touchdown, the Thrashers continued to move the ball well against the defense and Adam Bowley scored on a 28 yard touchdown run on their next drive. Bowley also attempted the 2 point conversion but was unable to cross the line.
Oxford responded quickly with penalties against Solent giving the Saints improved field position. On 3rd down, Glover entered the endzone from 7 yards out but Fielden’s kick was blocked.
The Thrashers showed their efficiency in the air with Sawyers completing another deep pass to Greenfield on the first play of the drive, who ran into the endzone for a 58 yard score and his 3rd of the day. Scott added the 2 points.
40-21 SOLENT FINAL SCORE
Statistics: Download PDF
With back to back losses against teams the Saints swiftly beat earlier in the season, Oxford are now at risk of missing the Division 1 playoffs.
To reclaim their spot, the Saints will need a win against the Eagles on Sunday 30th July and for the 0-9 South Wales Warriors to pull of a victory over the Thrashers on the same day.
Despite a disappointing 2nd half of the season, the Saints will be pleased that they were competitive in their first season back in Division 1 which included two close games against the undefeated conference champions, Sussex Thunder.
Oxford’s final game of the regular season is at Tilsley Park on Sunday 30th July against the Ouse Valley Eagles. Kick off is 14:30 PM.