Photography courtesy of Gareth Brown
Watch The Highlights:
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Quarter Final: Oxford Saints VS Cornish Sharks
Venue: Tilsley Park, Abingdon
Date: 21 August 2016
The perfect season continues as the Saints extend their winning streak to 11-0, with a quarter final victory over the Cornish Sharks.
The decisive win on Sunday at Tilsley Park advances Oxford to the semi final.
Conference rivals the Bristol Apache also claimed a win in their quarter final against the East Kent Mavericks, setting up a semi final battle between Oxford and Bristol.
With home advantage, the Saints will be hosting the Apache at Tilsley Park on Sunday 28th August.
A victory in the semi will send Oxford to the Division II Southern Final, marking their first appearance in a final since their 2006 championship season.
Watch The Pregame Hype:
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The Saints won the coin toss and began with the ball. Running from Tony Glover and Ryan Kingshott gained a 1st down for Oxford but the Sharks defense only allowed small gains.
An incomplete pass on third down intended for James Walter forced the Saints to punt the ball away on fourth down.
With the Sharks offense on the field for the first time, their opening drive was cut short with tackles from defensive end George Wright and a penalty against the Sharks. Failing to gain a 1st down, the visitors punted the ball back to the Saints.
Oxford moved the ball down the field with a big pass from quarterback Destin Maulding to veteran receiver Sam Armstrong, who hauled in the catch for a 22 yard gain.
Picking up additional yards on the ground from Glover and Walter, it was Maulding who sprinted up the sideline for 24 yards and attempted to dive into the endzone.
What looked to be a stunning score was declared unsuccessful, with the officials signalling that Maulding was down at the 1 yard line. The ball was instead given to Glover to finish things off, who hammered it in for the 1 yard touchdown run.
Sam Fielden attempted to add the extra point but his kick was blocked.
The Sharks looked to retaliate but faced a tough Oxford defense, with pressure from linebacker Sam Stancombe who nearly intercepted the ball. George Wright continued to be a problem for the Sharks, who brought down the runner for a loss of 2 yards.
A 44 yard field goal attempt by Sharks David Kriehn on 4th down was unsuccessful.
In the 2nd quarter, Maulding connected with receiver Ali Galbraith on one of the biggest plays of the day, throwing a deep pass for 35 yards which was caught by Galbraith for a 1st down and great field position.
Within short scoring distance, running back Kev Brooks moved the ball to the 2 yard line and Walter punched it in for a 2 yard touchdown run. Going for the 2 point conversion, the ball was handed to Glover who charged through the middle for the extra points.
Still in the 2nd quarter, the Saints were advancing again following with a 1st down run from Kingshott for 16 yards. On 2nd down, the Sharks defenders got through to Maulding and brought him to the floor for a 12 yard sack and a loss of yards.
The Saints recovered the lost yards on the next play when a short pass to Glover allowed him to charge through for 26 yards and another 1st down.
Glover claimed his 2nd touchdown of the game when as he smashed his way into the endzone from 7 yards out.
Fielden successfully kicked the extra point, 21-0 Oxford.
Before the first half expired, the Saints reached field goal range and decided to take the 3 points, with a good kick from Fielden from 23 yards out.
In the 3rd quarter, the Saints defense continued to pressure the Sharks who were only making short gains but were able to claim a 1st down. A sack by George Wright for a 5 yard loss pushed the Sharks back and were left to punt again.
The visitors landed another big sack on Oxford’s Destin Maulding when he scrambled deep into the backfield looking for space and was chased down by defenders for a 28 yard loss.
Despite the setback, the Saints were able to claw back the yards through running from Walter and Glover, along with a 15 yard penalty by the Sharks which gave Oxford an automatic 1st down.
After the bumpy start to the drive, Oxford were rolling again with a 20 yard run by Walter for another first. Glover hammered the ball in for his 3rd touchdown of the day from 7 yards out.
Going for the 2 point conversion, Maulding passed the ball into tight end Richard Bloomer, securing the catch for the extra score.
In the 4th quarter, the Sharks were making progress and picked up several 1st downs but were unable to reach the endzone.
Tackles from George Wright and Sion Evans on 3rd down left the Sharks with the decision to attempt a field goal, being keen to come away from the quarter final with some points.
David Kriehn made the kick for a 30 yard field goal, claiming their only points of the game.
As the game approached it’s conclusion, the Saints continued to wear down the Sharks defense who travelled with a far smaller squad compared to Oxford’s 60-strong roster.
Kev Brooks and Maulding both claimed 1st downs on the ground, with Walter adding a 15 yard carry for another just short of the endzone.
On the 1 yard line, Kingshott cross over for Oxford’s final score and Walter ran in the extra 2 points to make it 40-3 Oxford.
The game was closed out with a final defensive display by the Saints, with Chris Garland sacking the quarterback for a 4 yard loss.
FINAL 40-3 Oxford
On Sunday 28th August, the Saints will host the Bristol Apache at Tilsley Park in the semi finals.
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