SOLENT THRASHERS CLAIM THE WIN IN SEASON OPENER
Conference: SFC1 (Southern Football Conference – Division 1)
Date: 15th April 2018
Location: Tilsley Park, Abingdon
Result: Solent Thrashers 29-17 Oxford Saints
Statistics: Game Stats
After earning promotion at the end of the 2016 season, the Saints made a good start back in Division 1 last year finishing 2017 with a 5-5 record.
With the club looking to improve on that result for 2018, they were met with disappointment as they opened their campaign with a 29-17 loss against a tough Solent Thrashers side.
On Solent’s opening possession, they advanced the ball towards the Saints endzone but a touchdown pass from Solent Quarterback Bradley Sawyers to James Gibson was called back after a flag on the play.
Expecting to take a field goal on 4th down, a penalty by Oxford’s defense gave them a first down instead and a perfect opportunity to score. Sawyers handed the ball to Adam Bowley, who ran in from 7 yards out for the touchdown. The visitors attempted to add an extra 2 points but failed to cross the line. 6-0 Solent.
On the following kickoff Josh Peck, a new face on the Saints roster, showed his skills with a 59 yard return.
With last year’s running back Tony Glover transitioning to the quarterback position, the Oxford offense struggled to find it’s rhythm against a strong Solent defense. On 4th down, Glover was tackled in the backfield for a sack and a loss of 7 yards, forcing the Saints to punt the ball away.
In the 2nd quarter, the Saints turned over possession when the ball came loose and was recovered by the Thrashers. With a short distance to the endzone, Sawyers completed a precision pass to Dayle Greenfield, bringing the ball in for a 18 yard touchdown. Another 2 point attempt failed, giving Solent a 12-0 lead.
Another outstanding performance from kick returner Josh Peck saw him return the ball for 62 yards, giving the Saints offense excellent field position.
The Saints finally got on the scoreboard with a 24 yard field goal from Sam Fielden. The Thrashers failed to gain a first down on their next drive and punted the ball back to Oxford.
Glover fired up the offense with a 29 yard pass to new receiver Daniel Britten. A short run and then a completed pass to Jason Williams gave the Saints another first down, with Glover then outpacing the defenders to run the ball in himself for a 20 yard touchdown.
Fielden kicked the extra point and Oxford narrowed the scoreline to 12-10 Solent at the half.
12-10 SOLENT – HALF TIME
The 3rd quarter was all-Solent, with the Thrashers adding on a 39 yard field goal from Matt Hewlett and another score on the ground from Tom Davies, extending their lead to 22-10.
Oxford’s offense started to move the ball well with solid running from Glover, showcasing his abilities to be a dual passing/running threat from the quarterback position. On 3rd down Glover found new receiver Jeremie Leonard in the endzone, catching the pass for a 8 yard touchdown and his first score with Oxford.
Fielden added the extra point to close the gap to 22-17 Solent.
The Saints needed to stop the Thrashers offense to have a chance to get the win, but a sustained drive from Solent saw them playing it safe and running the ball to use up the remaining clock, reducing Oxford’s chances.
The final blow was delivered when Solent’s Adam Bowley escaped up the sideline for a 52 yard touchdown run. Another extra point kick from Hewlett resulted in a final score of 29-17.
Despite the loss, the Saints showed that they have some new playmakers on across offense, defense and special teams. Daniel Britten and Jeremie Leonard proved themselves as key targets for quarterback Tony Glover.
On defense, new defensive back Simeon Stoodley stood out in his performance, with Josh Peck showing his game-changing potential as a kick-returner on special teams.
With another game coming up this Sunday, the Saints must use the time productively to review film and put together a plan to beat the Berkshire Renegades. The Renegades claimed a surprise 26-9 victory in their first game, beating the division favourites Sussex Thunder, who went undefeated in 2017.
29-17 SOLENT – Final Score
Oxford Defensive Coordinator Nick Wykes commented:
It seemed like both teams were, understandably, finding their feet a bit, some really impressive passages of play by both teams, as well as some pretty basic errors. We’ve a good group of players, a handful of guys new to the team, and while the talent is there we are still trying to find our identity a little bit, in all phases of the game.
Solent Head Coach Steve Rains added:
As we expected this was a tough game in what I am sure will be a very competitive Division again this year. We are knocking off the pre-season rust and I’m sure it’s the same for the Saints. I can’t see any “easy” games in our schedule and of course that is the way it should be, but we are very pleased to have a 1-0 start this year.
The Saints will now be looking forwards to their away game on Sunday 22nd April against the 1-0 Berkshire Renegades.