Category: Uni

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

Oxford Lancers make it three wins in a row!

The city of Oxford hosts three American Football clubs. Alongside the Saints who compete in the national league, there are also two university teams who compete in a separate league taking on rival student teams.

The University of Oxford Lancers were founded a few years ago and have had a struggling start to their career, going through their first two seasons without a victory.


 

On Sunday 15th February 2015, the Lancers made it to three wins in a row by defeating the East Conference favourites, the University of East Anglia Pirates in a 7-6 nail biter finish.

Since the beginning of the new year, the Lancers have been led by new Head Coach Andy McKenzie, who was previously the Lancers Defensive Coordinator. Coach McKenzie has taken the reins of both the defense and the offense and under his guidance, the team have a new found hunger, especially on offense.

Back on February 2nd 2015, the Lancers faced their cross town rivals the Oxford Brookes Panthers in the Cavalier Cup and won 13-6, their second only win in team history. The game was a huge statement, but the Lancers wanted to build on this and play well against the Pirates to make sure that the Cavalier Cup was no fluke.

The Pirates were on 4-0 record before Christmas and were predicted to win out the league, until they suffered a 16-0 defeat against Cambridge. At this point the Pirates knew that if they lost their upcoming game against the Lancers, their chances of playoff football would be at risk.lancers 7 6 uea pirates 2015 (175)

Double Coverage (the main news outlet which covers all levels of American Football in the UK) predicted a win for the Pirates. The Pirates had a long journey down to Oxford yet they came with a packed double-decker coach. They brought more supporters to watch than the Lancers had players on their whole team (just 19 kitted players, one of whom had never played in a game before).

This was shaping up to be a David & Goliath affair…


 

Outnumbered but never out-muscled

Under perfect weather conditions, the 19 Lancers observed as the Pirates kitted up 41 players. The large amount of supporters who travelled with the Pirates made the ground feel like it was a home game for them instead of Oxford. The Lancers were missing several key players through injuries and other reasons but are often playing with low numbers.

Eight Oxford players were on the depth chart to start in both offensive and defensive positions with many rookies being asked to play positions completely new to them also. Although confidence for the Lancers was high thanks to the 13-6 win against Oxford Brookes Panthers, they knew this was going to be another hard day at the office…


 

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The Lancers kicked off and the Pirates began their first drive from their own 20. The Lancers knew that the Pirates are a strong team up front, who run the ball very well, are very physical and very organised. Though two back to back huge tackles both for a loss from Oxford’s defensive end Priest, saw the visitors in a third and long situation straight away. This is exactly how the Lancers wanted to start the game…They were not going to get bullied. A five yard pass was not enough and the Pirates punted.

Both teams struggled to make any significant gains and excellent kicking by Oxford’s rookie punter Alex Dale meant that the Pirates kept getting possession of the ball deep in their own territory. The Lancers kept starting with much better field position but they themselves could not capitalise.


 

Momentum shift

On the Pirate’s second play of their third drive, Oxford linebacker Benedict Shillito made a five yard sack as the first quarter came of the match came to a close.

Despite this sack, the Pirate’s strung together four plays for 31 yards and two first downs and were deep in Lancer territory nearing the 30 yard line. A mighty tackle in the backfield from Priest, coupled with a batted down down pass by Lancers free safety Adam Wong, forced the Pirates to punt. Although the Pirates did not score, this ten play drive changed the crucial field position battle in their favour.

The Lancers then punted out of their own red zone after another 3 and out, giving the Pirates the ball on the Lancers 45, but despite good field position had to punt too after three short runs.

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The Lancers found themselves backed up into their own red zone and needed some yards desperately. Lancer quarterback Will Szymanski hit receiver Adam Wong twice (12 yards and 15 yards) for two crucial first downs. Although this drive lead to a punt, the 27 yard drive gave Oxford renewed confidence.


 

Lancers draw first blood

Alex Dale’s booming high punt swayed in the air, and the Pirate punt returner oddly jumped up to make the catch. It bobbled out of his hands and Oxford’s Priest was there with his gleaming red helmet smothering the ball.

With a good drive behind them, the Lancers were confident going to the air, as they set up just outside of the Pirate’s red zone. Yet two incomplete passes meant a dicey situation for the home team. Getting some yards might put them in field goal range, especially as there was no wind.

However on third and long, Oxford quarterback Szymanski rolled to his right and fired a perfect pass to his new favourite target Adam Wong, who was then pushed out at the 6 yard line.
Hawaiian import, Scott Tan (the game’s eventual MVP) lined up in the back field, and after some good blocking from the offensive-line, managed to punch his through dragging two Pirate defenders into the endzone for the touch down. Szymanski kicked the PAT and the score was 7-0 as the first half ended.


 

Oxford began the the 2nd half with the ball, but a crucial interception from the Pirates gave them possession on the Lancers 35 yard line. On a fourth down pass attempt, Oxford’s coverage was blown and the Pirates quarterback found a open receiver. Rookie corner Alex Dale made a touch down saving tackle at the four yard line.lancers2

Pirates running back made a  cut outside on 3rd and goal and crossed the goal line bringing the score to 7-6. A two point conversion attempt failed with Oxford’s defense standing strong.

Both teams became more confident in attempting passes and the Pirates achieved a much needed first down with a completed 20 yard reception after facing 3rd down with 17 yards to go.

However at 4th and 3 they decided to go back to their run game and were stuffed at the line of scrimmage by the Lancers.

A long drive by Oxford was needed to run the clock down and create some breathing room. The Lancers went to the air but once again were picked intercepted by the Pirates who returned the ball all the way to the 10 yard line before Scott Tan made a crucial tackle.


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As the 3rd quarter came to a close the Oxford defense were struggling to keep the Pirates out of the end zone who had managed to reach the 1 yard line.

The Lancers stopped the opposing running back at the line on 2nd down and then a Pirates false start took them back to 3rd and goal from the 6 yard line. An outside run attempt was thwarted by defensive end Ilia Onishenko with an out-stretched tackle to bring up 4th and 6.

The Pirates called up their kicker who looked very solid. The ball was snapped cleanly and the kick was looking good but it was difficult to see whether it had gone through the uprights. The referees signalled the kick was wide and the Lancers held on to their 7-6 lead.


 

The final moments

The Lancers were running the clock down but were forced to punt again. A Pirate defender struck punter Alex Dale after the kick for a 5 yard penalty. Szymanski at quarterback ran to the outside for 7 yards before striking to American import, Ahmad Nasir on a perfect slant route. Back to back first downs was still not enough and the Lancers punted to give the visitors one more chance.

The Pirates with three time-outs and just under 2 minutes to play started powerfully with a 25 yard run. On the next play, Priest was in the back field and blocked the pass. The Pirates went back to the ground before attempting to take advantage of another blown Lancer coverage, but this time the Pirate’s receiver dropped the pass at the ten yard line.


 

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The Pirates had made their way to Oxford’s 22 yard line which would be long field goal attempt. It was 4th down and 7 and Lancer Head Coach Andy McKenzie changed up the personnel in the secondary expecting a pass.

The Pirates went for the pass which was well covered by rookie corner Peter Graham. The ball hit the ground and the small Lancer sideline celebrated.

The Lancers knelt out the game for a thrilling victory taking both them and the Pirates to a 4-2 record.

Head Coach Andy McKenzie said in his post game speech that he is continually stunned at how much heart this team has.

Next week the Lancers travel to Essex looking to secure a 5-2 record and potentially finish second in the league while the Panthers travel to the Pirates.


 

Lancer awards

MVP: Scott Tan (RB/LB)

Offense: Adam Wong (WR, FS)

Defense: Priest (DE, WR)

Special teams: Alex Dale (P, CB)

Lineman of the day: Oli Carnell (C, DT)

 


 

Oxford round-up

It was a good day all round for Oxford football as the cross town Panthers went to Canterbury and notched up their highest ever points with a 44-0 win.

In other scores, Cambridge beat Essex in double over time, making the league a two horse race between Cambridge and Kent, who play against each other next week for the title.

Now the Lancers and the Panthers are both at 4-2, yet because of the head to head, the Lancers are above them in the league…for the very first time ever.


Game report by Adam Goldstein

Adam Goldstein: The Tailgate Knight!

Meet Adam Goldstein, Author and American Football coach for the Oxford University Lancers.

Adam has become known as The Tailgate Knight and recognised by the NFL as a ‘Super Fan’ due to his brilliant and some might say crazy adventures!

Adam has a deep passion for American Football and a talent for writing which promises to grip even those unfamiliar with the sport.

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With two books now published documenting his exploits, we thoroughly recommend you look into them and all the details are below.

Furthermore, Adam has kindly provided a signed copy of his first book Tailgate To Heaven which the team will be giving to a lucky winner (details to be announced)
Tailgate To Heaven: A British NFL Fan Tackles America

“Since 1985 when the Bears won the Superbowl I have been mad for the NFL. I grew up watching the sport on Channel 4, I went to Americn Bowl games at the old Wembley. I played kitted ball for Aberystwyth Tarranau in 2000 and since then I have played mostly flag in London with former Texas Longhorns. Though despite going to a few pre-season NFL games while on holidays no one had really told me about Tailgating.

I discovered this gem of a sub culture in 2006, when I experienced it in Arizona, when I saw my beloved Bears play there on Monday Night Football. I was blown away by the amount of people who got there early and stayed late to just cook for each other. It was like a festival in the car park and I knew I wanted to taste all the tailgating flavours from across the NFL spectrum.

So in 2008 I sold my flat in London, left my job, left my girlfriend at home (don’t worry she is my fiance now and we live together in Oxford) and I went to see a live NFL game at every franchise during the 2008 regular season, including games in London and Toronto. I made sure I digested all that I could in terms of football and tailgating culture into 18 weeks.

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I put that whirlwind experience into my 2012 book “Tailgate To Heaven: A British NFL Fan Tackles America” published by Potomac Books Inc. The book is available in hardback, paperback and ebook.

Available at Amazon here.
The Tailgate Knight Rises: A British NFL Fan Tailgates America
“Going to see 40 American football games in 2008 in 18 weeks was amazing, but the sheer amount of travelling took me away from plenty of precious hours on the black top AKA The Tailgate. In 2008 many tailgaters cooked for me, but I realised that if I wanted to understand tailgating further, I needed to go deeper, and I would have to go from tailgatee to tailgater…I would need to be the one doing the cooking.

So I teamed up with professional tailgater (yes that is a thing) who was sponsored by Cholula hot sauce to go to several college and NFL games. He has just converted his school bus into a tiki bar on wheels. It was a fully equipped tailgating machine on wheels, with kitchen, bed, toilet and roof deck, and it was jammed full of cooking equipment and NFL memorabilia. How could I say no?

For the whole 2008 season everyone kept telling me to check out a college tailgate. Although I went to a small college game and a bowl game in ‘08, I wanted to experience more of the college football culture. It was great that this 2009 tour covered several college games as well as NFL games a Lingerie Football League game (yes that is a thing also) and to my surprise we hosted numerous Beer Pong tournaments, which we a lot of fun.

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I lived on this Tiki bar for the first half of the 2009 season and in that year I went to 15 football games. It was a fun experience being able to cook for others as I gingerly attempted to bring some British food to the tailgating arena. This trip is the basis of my second book: “The Tailgate Knight Rises: A British NFL Fan Tailgates America.” This book is only currently available as an ebook on Kindle.

In my opinion (and my fiance’s) this book is more fun and lighter than the first. It’s almost as if the 2008 was the main course and this one is the dessert.”

Available at Amazon here.

Adam Goldstein
@tailgateknight