Warwick Wolves @ Loughborough Students 11/11/18
The Wolves travelled to Loughborough for their first away game of the season, still in their mind the closeness of the NTU match a week before, they were determined to not let the game gradually slip away as the match went on as what had occurred in the previous game.
The game began with the Loughborough Students’ kick returner, who had scored on the opening play of their previous game, taking the ball to the 40-yard line only to be stopped by the last line of defence, kicker Ed Roberts. Loughborough, being a run-heavy team, attempted to rely on their inside run game, but in their first drive it was well stopped by the Wolves, forcing an early punt. The snap for said punt was very wide and forced the punter to pick up the pigskin and run with it, thinking he could get the first down he stormed down the sideline only to be met by LB Koorosh Fatemian who firmly placed his shoulder pad into the punter stopping him short of the 1st down marker giving the Wolves great field position.
With the Wolves entering into the red zone, thoughts of their inefficiencies against NTU undoubtedly crept into the minds of the offense. Determined to right the previous wrongs QB Matt Oosthuizen kept the ball in his hands and with 2 great runs set up a 1st and goal on the 1- yard line. Resembling a young Tom Daley he majestically dived into the end zone on the next play, sending Warwick’s side-line into joyous uproar. The resulting PAT was blocked leaving the Wolves 6-0 up.
Loughborough continued with their inside run approach, LBs Ed McNamara and Koorosh Fatemian were able to plug up every attempt, not missing a tackle throughout the whole game. But this time the run approach worked with the 3-4 yard runs moving the chains continuously. A toss to the outside then surprised the Wolves and the wingback ran untouched through the defence for a 30-yard TD, just like that the Wolves advantage was gone with the PAT converted to make the score 7-6 to the Students.
The run game in the Wolves’ next drive was plugged up by the defence and they were able to force a punt. But after an inaccurate long-snap sailed over punter Roberts’ head, he had to dive on the ball in the end zone giving the Students a safety, now the lead was 3 points at 9-6.
Loughborough were able venture into the red zone in their next drive after an astonishing catch by a perfectly covered receiver on a vert. The wolves defence did not break however stopping the offence and forcing a field goal attempt which was put wide by the opposition kicker. But the Students were straight back into the redzone after a 3 and out and yet another high long-snap, this time Roberts was able to pick up the ball and run, but was tackled before reaching the down marker. However again Loughborough could not convert, Warwick’s defence put up a great stand, highlighted by Rookie Safety David Carnegy making 2 great tackles, having already earnt the starting job in his second game of football the future is bright for the Frisbee reject. The forced field goal attempt was converted and Loughborough extended their lead to 12-6.
The Wolves next drive was started fantastically by RB Nile Painter bouncing an inside run to the side-line for a 25-yard gain. But after 3 incomplete passes the drive was stalled, the lack of a consistent passing game was a theme throughout the match and with the inability to move the ball downfield it really limited the scoring chances for the Wolves. Then on defence the Wolves thought they had a turnover with MLB Ed McNamara stripping the QB but the referees deemed his knee was down. This was quickly forgotten however as on the next play after an inaccurate toss by the QB, his hand still presumably hurting from Ed McNamara’s inhumanely strong tug, LB Koorosh Fatemian was able to recover the ball. With under a minute to go the Wolves had time to score but were only able to attempt the field goal with Ed Roberts converting the 12-yard attempt.
With only 15 seconds left of the half, Loughborough regained the ball. With only time left for one play in a moment of madness all three DBs covering deep, read the play as if it was a run, leaving all three receivers running verts completely free. The QB was able to make the easy pass and the receiver was able to run 75 yards untouched, giving Loughborough another score. To further add salt to the wound, on a little dink pass to a Tight end, Loughborough converted the 2-point conversion to make the score 20-9. The Wolves did have a Hail Mary attempt to pull a score back at the end of the half but QB Oosthuizen decided in his great wisdom to attempt to run the 60 yards needed for the score instead of passing the ball, needless to say a touchdown was not scored.
The Wolves started the second half unimpressively with a three and out, giving the ball to Loughborough at midfield. They went heavy on their run game but the Wolves defence remained strong forcing a punt, the highlight of the defensive stand was massive man DT Will Carroll storming through the O-Line and smashing the ball out of the RB’s hands, only another questionable call from the referees stopped the Wolves forcing another turnover.
In the next drive a deep ball was attempted to rangy WR James Norris, the receiver was able to pluck the ball from the air but then simultaneously the Students’ DB was able to pluck the ball from Norris’ hands resulting in an interception for Loughborough. The turnover came to no gain, with the Wolves making a nice stand, yet again plugging up the inside run. In tough field position, the Wolves then got a nice drive going gaining two first downs with impressive runs from Painter and Oosthuizen, but the drive halted with the lack of passing success, with a key 3rd down conversion attempt dropped. Loughborough’s drive was again stopped by Warwick, FS James Morris punching the ball from the Running Backs grip. MLB Ed McNamara looked to recover the ball but in his excitement for another stat on the stats sheet, he simply rolled over the ball, thankfully trusty CB Henry Faulkner-Ellis was there to mop up and fall on the ball to give possession back to the Wolves.
But in great field position the Wolves could not convert for a 1st down, QB Matt Oosthuizen heavily targeted lengthy Rookie WR Johannes Sasay-Wada on two verts, but each throw was slightly out of the huge receivers catching radius after 2 very well run routes. Loughborough then punished the Wolves’ lack of ability to get points on the scoreboard with a well-designed reverse play by the WR going for a 50-yard TD to put the score at 27-9.
Both team were then held to 3 and outs, the Wolves throwing 3 incompletions and Loughborough being stopped by a combination of aggressive d-line play and great deep coverage from the Corners.
The Wolves then got the ball back with only a few minutes left in the game, the offence knowing this was the only chance to get back in the game. The drive opened with back to back long runs, Rookie RB Tiane Nyashanu impressing on his first carry of the game and then QB Oosthuizen on a read option run to the side-line for a 20-yard gain. But the drive again petered out with the passing game being completely shut down by Loughborough.
Loughborough then sunk the final nail in the coffin with their effective outside run game and punched the ball in from short range to end the game 34-9.
In the end the final score flattered the Students with the Wolves being in the game for the first 3 quarters. The game for the offence was a stark contrast to the NTU game with the run game being a successful weapon in their arsenal, whilst the passing game gained a total of 0 yards. Now knowing that both facets of the offence can be effective, if both can be combined then the Wolves’ offence will be fruitful. Whilst on defence it is still the allowance of large yardage plays that haunts the unit. The Wolves go into the bye week with a clear focus and will be thoroughly preparing for the revenge game against the NTU Renegades a week after.