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Bournemouth Bobcats 6-17 Oxford Saints
The Oxford Saints completed their regular season in the West conference of BAFANL Division 2 with a convincing 17-6 win over rivals Bournemouth on Saturday. The win propels Oxford to an 8-1-1 record and second overall seeding for the playoffs.
It is courage, courage, courage that raises the blood of life to crimson splendour, this Saints side live bravely and present a brave front to any adversity. And so it was that despite travelling with a squad missing no fewer than 19 players there was never any question of the game not going ahead and the Saints were delighted to honour their opponents with a full and furious test. There can be no substitute for testing oneself under any circumstances, for adversity is the trial of principle. Without it a man hardly knows whether he is honest or not, thus there was a dynamism born of necessity to Oxfords play.
These tough teams have now met three times in 2012 and the Saints have triumphed thrice, each time by a narrow margin. Saturday's climax to the regular season was never going to be any different.
The last time Oxford made the trip to Bournemouth their offence struggled badly all day and it was left to the defence to safeguard victory. This time, however, HC and offensive coordinator Andrew Day was bold and positive and QB Ali Galbraith lit up the skies on only the second drive of the day.
Mike Oluwole and Chris Ellis punched early holes in the Bobcats interior, Galbraith hit Sam Armstrong and James Walter for decent gains and James Dunstan for a critical 3rd down conversion. Oxford never quite had it all their own way so on 4th down Galbraith dialled up Armstrongs number and the receiver exploded between double coverage to reel in a 26 yard touchdown strike.
The rest of the half followed a familiar course as both defences controlled the game. Oxford having twice stopped the Bobcats on 4th downs we're never going to relinquish their grip and the first half's entertainment was concluded by Saints cover corner Jonny Dover grabbing his first interception of the day.
The third quarter proved to be something of an anachronism. With each team having only 4 possesions each in the first half they traded 11 in the third quarter alone. Oxford led by 7 points and needed to settle the nerves while Bournemouth sensed an opportunity as long as they kept the Saints within striking distance. And thus it was that both teams went turnover crazy.
First Dover picked off the Bobcats QB setting up the Saints offence, but Oluwole, with probably his only mistake of the day, fumbled it right back 2 plays later. In attempting to avoid Dover the Bobcats trigger man succeeded only in finding linebacker Dean Bryan who reeled in a one handed interception.
Galbraith joined the party throwing his only pick of the day on the next drive and putting the Bournemouth QB under centre once more. Electing to go after Dover one more time the Bournemouth passer was reminded of what everyone else already knew as the young Saints corner came down with the ball for the third time.
Josh Randall, by now having replaced Galbraith under centre engineered a decent first drive before blotting his copy book with interceptions on successive possessions. In the midst of all this Bournemouth found a way to get Randall back on the field when Oxfords free safety Nick Sparrow recovered a fumble, but, crucially brought the game to within a point on the very next drive.
Chewing up half the field in only a handful of plays the Bobcats got themselves right back into the mix when Klynton Dyer shot into the endzone from 11 yards out. MVP Chris Ellis, leading the defence from linebacker and leading the tackle count ensured Tom Burn had no such luck in trying to add 2 more points to give Bournemouth the lead. But here is a team who have never turned their back but marched breast forward. Never doubted clouds would break. Never dreamed, though rights were worsted, that wrong would triumph. Held they fall to rise, are baffled to fight better and sleep to wake. And the wounds were staunched.
Dean Bryan added a fumble recovery to his earlier interception setting up a short Oxford drive and a 37 yard Jonny Dover field goal that left the scoreboard reading 10-6 Saints. With that kick a sense a calm returned to the visitors sideline and while the punters were kept busy for much of the 4th quarter there was a sense of inevitability when Chris Ellis outran the Bobcats pursuit to the endzone from the 12. With 'do-it-all' Dover landing his third succesful place kick out of three to bring the Saints lead to 11, all that was left was for middle linebacker Stephen Bentley to grab an interception and for Josh Randall to take a knee.
Oxford go on to face Milton Keynes Pathfinders at home on Sunday 5th August in the quarterfinal. With a 2.30 kickoff at Abingdon RFC the match up promises to be fierce and keenly contested.
Published: 29-07-2012 by nw