Game statistics available here: Oxford Saints VS Torbay Trojans – 12th April 2015
New quarterback Ben Denton and the Saints open the 2015 season with a 18-6 win over the Torbay Trojans!
In front of a large home crowd of 100+, the Oxford Saints hosted Torbay at the Oxford Rugby Club.
The Saints have spent the last four months training for the 2015 campaign, enjoying a huge spike in recruitment with many new players from the local area taking up the sport for the first time.
Following a league restructure, the Saints now compete in Division II South West of the British American Football Association National Leagues (BAFANL).
This year the Saints will go up against local rivals Swindon and Bristol, whilst also facing tough competition from coastal teams such as the Torbay Trojans and the Cornish Sharks. The Saints narrowly missed out on the playoffs in 2014 and will be looking to bounce back.
Before the opening kickoff, both teams and the supporters observed a minute of silence in respect of Saints General Manager Roger Hedges, who passed away in 2007.
Roger was a huge part of the team and a memorial bench with his name sits outside the main club house overlooking the field.
His daughter Kelly Hedges performed the coin toss.
Kelly, a keen supporter at every game, said:
“The bench is there because that is where his heart is. The Saints were his life. He’s near the sideline, facing the sun and near the bar!”
The game begins!
Under strong winds, the Trojans received the opening kickoff but struggled to move the ball against the Saints defense.
The Saints offense led by new quarterback Ben Denton also struggled to find their rhythm and for most of the 1st quarter, both teams slugged it out for minimal gains due to mistakes and penalty flags. Although dry weather, the high wind presented a challenge for both quarterbacks when attempting pass plays.
On the first drive of the 2nd quarter, the Saints experience and discipline began to shine as the offense marched up the field, capped off by running back Kevin Brooks scoring a 4 yard touchdown run. The Saints attempted the 2 point conversion but failed and the score was 6 – 0 to Oxford.
With possession changing frequently in the 2nd quarter, both teams continued to probe each other for weaknesses.
A break out run by Torbay took them very close to the red zone with free safety Ali Galbraith charging across from the other side of the field to make a goal saving tackle just short of the endzone. Fortunately for Oxford, a penalty flag was thrown against Torbay and the play was brought back.
Torbay’s quarterback went to the air and attempted to establish their passing game. Although earning some completions, the Saints defense managed to hold strong and keep Torbay out of the red zone.
James Walter runs wild, with 157 rushing yards and 2 TD’s on 18 carries!
In the 3rd quarter, Saints runningback James Walter terrorised the Torbay defense with aggressive and powerful running. Failing to find a way to deal with Walter, he scored on a 10 yard run and smashed a defender into the endzone with him. This gave Oxford a two score lead 12-0. The two point attempt failed.
Looking to score their first points of 2015, the Trojans responded with a good drive down the field and had the endzone in their sights. A broken defensive play gave the Torbay quarterback an uncovered receiver in in the back of the endzone who caught a easy 5 yard pass for the score. Torbay went for the extra two points and passed the ball again but this time it was covered by the Saints defense and fell incomplete. 12-6 to Oxford.
Looking to extend the lead
In the fourth quarter the Saints needed to extend their lead. Ben Denton led another strong drive but was faced with a 4th down situation. The coaches decided to go for it and a pass to tight-end Laurent Antoine was completed for a 10 yard gain and a first down. James Walter charged the ball into the endzone again on a 5 yard run to make it 18-6.
James Walter was the player of the match with 18 carries for 157 rushing yards and two touchdowns, which is more yardage then the opponents managed to gain overall through both passing and rushing.
The Saints defense remained strong for the rest of the game and continued to pressure the Torbay quarterback, who suffered several big hits at the hands of Saints linebackers Luke Fry and Calvin Holmes.
Calvin Holmes and Luke Fry sacked the Torbay quarterback three times during the game.
Finishing at 18-6 to Oxford, the Saints got their season started with a win but took a while to become productive in the game. The coaches will be looking to fix this before the division favourites Bristol Apache come to Oxford on 26th April.
The coaching staff acknowledged the following players during the post game speech:
- Offensive MVP – James Walter
- Defensive MVP – Calvin Holmes
- Special Teams MVP – Grant Tebb
- Team MVP – James Walter
Game statistics: Oxford Saints VS Torbay Trojans – 12th April 2015
There was also good performances from rookies who were getting game time in their first regular season game of their senior careers. Offensive lineman Tyson Blackstock and defensive lineman Conor Whitehouse both put in strong shifts.
The offense was also boosted by the comeback of veteran wide receiver Sam Armstrong. Although no receptions on the day, Sam showed his experience with tough run blocking and providing a deep threat for quarterback Ben Denton.
With many more rookies looking for game time, compeition remains stiff for starting spots and the Saints have a big training week ahead of them before game 2…
The Saints now prepare for the second game of the regular season on 26th April at the Oxford Rugby Club, against the Bristol Apache.
Keep a look out for the Oxford VS Bristol game preview!
Quarterback Ben Denton, who is beginning his first year at the position, said:
“It was great to get our first win of the season under our belts on Sunday.”
“The first game of any campaign is always tricky, so despite not playing to our full potential it is good to get our playoff push underway. I thought that, offensively, we started poorly, but got better as the game went on which bodes well for our game against Bristol in a couple of weeks.”
“We ran the ball hard, and special mention needs to go to Walter and Brooks for getting the job done on the ground. There is still a lot to work on, and things that we can improve, but at the end of the day a win is a win.”
It takes a lot of work behind the scenes to run a successful American Football club. We are constantly looking for passionate individuals to join us and help put on a great show!
We have a range of tasks available on the sideline including general assistants, ball boys, camera operators and chain crew.
If you want to be part of a exciting sports team but playing isn’t for you, why not join our game day crew instead? Send a email to [email protected] and we’d happily discuss all the options!
Here are the first few photos from the day. We greatly appreciated having several talented photographers on the sidelines and we look forward to seeing more of their work over the season.
If you were at the game and have any photos you wish to share, email them to us at [email protected]. We’ll publish our favourites online and credit you as the photographer.
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