SAINTS AND RENEGADES END in a TIE
Date: 22nd April 2018
Location: SportsPark, Reading
Statistics: Game Stats
Following a 29-17 defeat in their season opener, the Saints travelled to the nearby Berkshire Renegades for the second game of the year.
In week 1, the Renegades put the division on alert when they toppled last years undefeated Sussex Thunder, so Oxford knew this visit would be a challenge.
The Renegades started with possession and opened the game with a run play, but Oxford’s defense were quick to the mark with Greg Lewis and Sam Stancombe tackling the ball carrier in the backfield. After just a 1 yard gain on the next play, quarterback Dan Storey threw a deep ball to Henry Feurtado, who hauled in the catch for a 41 yard gain before being tackled by Tom Swift.
From 1 yard out Reading’s Andrew Nielson charged up the middle for a touchdown, putting the home team on the scoreboard first with James Treherne kicking the extra point through the uprights. 7-0 Berkshire.
With the Saints offense on the field, head coach Andrew Day put running back Shaun Griffin to work with back to back carries. After a first down from Griffin, quarterback Tony Glover completed a pass to Jeremie Leonard for a 18 yard gain and another first down.
The Saints continued to feed Griffin the ball as he picked up yards on each play, including a 14 yard run. From 4 yards out, he crossed into the endzone and Sam Fielden added the extra point to equalise. 7-7 TIE.
Looking to respond, Storey mixed things up with a combination of run and pass plays, advancing his offense down field. Close to the endzone but on 4th down, the Renegades decided to go for it and looked poised to score, but Storey rolled out to the left and was hunted down by linebacker Calvin Holmes for a sack, a loss of 13 yards and a turnover to bring Oxford’s offense back out.
Both teams exchanged drives but unable to find a way through the opposing defences. With the Saints making good progress, momentum shifted when the ball was fumbled to the ground and the Berkshire defense recovered possession.
Reading’s offense quickly picked up a first down but suffered another sack when defensive ends Conor Whitehouse and Dickie Penrose chased down Storey for a loss of 15 yards.
On 3rd down, new player for the Saints Antonio Sacco intercepted the ball from Storey, forcing another change of possession. The Saints failed to capitalise and the first half concluded with a 7-7 TIE.
HALF TIME | OXFORD 7 – 7 BERKSHIRE
Saints newcomer Josh Peck put on a show for both teams at the start of the 3rd quarter, returning the kick off all the way back to the Renegade endzone, weaving through defenders for a 90 yard touchdown. Fielden added another extra point 14-7 Oxford.
A sustained drive from the Renegades saw them making steady progress across the field, despite almost losing a fumbled ball which they managed to recover before the Oxford defense could claim it.
Reaching the Saints endzone on 3rd down, Berkshire ran up the middle but the ball came loose again and tumbled into the endzone. What appeared to be a fumble recovered by Oxford was declared a touchdown to Berkshire, after the officials stated both teams had simultaneous possession as players scrambled on the floor, with Ben Raper being awarded the score. Another extra point from Treherne equalised the score. 14-14 TIE.
In the 4th quarter, another solid drive from Oxford saw them keep the ball on the ground with Griffin getting the bulk of the workload. On 2nd down, he ran in for the touchdown from 10 yards out and gave the Saints their lead again. Fielden remained on target, with another extra point. 21-14 Oxford.
With the Saints needing to run down the clock to secure victory, a crushing blow was dealt when Jonny Whitehead broke free up the sideline for a 54 yard touchdown run, entering the endzone untouched for the score. Treherne also remained on target, adding the extra point to put the game back into a tie. 21-21 TIE.
Oxford were moving the ball well again, with quarterback Tony Glover taking off and running out to the sideline to keep the offense moving. Another completed pass to Leonard for 14 yards advanced the Saints further. On 3rd down Glover was tackled for a 5 yard sack, with head coach Andrew Day calling up the field goal unit to seal the win. Fielden lined up from 39 yards to make the attempt but missed to the right.
The Saints defense held off a downfield passing attack from Storey and Feurtado in the final seconds as the clock ticked away, with the whistle being blown as a 21-21 TIE.
FINAL SCORE | OXFORD 21 – 21 BERKSHIRE
Oxford Defensive Coordinator Nick Wykes commented:
“Sunday was a big step forward from our slow start in week 1, it’s a tough one to take as we feel like we let the win get away with a handful of sloppy plays, but if the team can stay on this trajectory of development then we will be closing out these kinds of games.”
“Better execution on both sides of the ball and an already explosive special teams unit will bode well for the remainder of a very competitive schedule.”
Although the Saints will have felt that they had multiple chances to secure victory, they will be satisfied with a tie over a loss, especially against a formidable Berkshire side that made swift work of the early favourites Sussex Thunder in week 1.
After back to back games in weeks 1 and 2, the Saints will return to the practice field until May 20th when they travel to the Solent Thrashers.