Warwick Wolves @ NTU Renegades 25/11/18
With a bitter taste of back to back defeats in the mouths of all, the Warwick Wolves took a trip to Nottingham to face the 2-0 NTU Renegades. Having lost to the same outfit in their first game of the year the Wolves were hungry for revenge, knowing they could do better this time around.
The Wolves started with the ball and the first play was not one to write home about, QB Matt Oosthuizen scrambled, spinning left and right but could not escape pressure, being taken down for a loss of 10 yards. But on a 3rd and 16 Oosthuizen made up for the scramble by hitting WR Lukas Anthuber in a tight window throw for a first down. The exceptional ball placement did not stop there with a perfectly thrown ball to TE Ethan Mawhinney on a post route for 22 yards, the Tight End plucked the ball from the air exceptionally and fought aggressively through tacklers for extra yards. Now in the red zone the Wolves had a great chance to put a score up on the Renegades, QB Oosthuizen peppered the end zone with throws with WRs Will Whiteley and Lukas Anthuber close to bringing catches in, but the Wolves could not convert on 4 attempts and so had to give the ball to NTU on downs.
Defence instantly gave the ball straight back to the offence, forcing a three and out. And offence moved the chains again with impressive RB Tiane Nyashanu making 2 imposing runs through the tackles. Then facing a 3rd and long, QB Oosthuizen was inches away from hitting Flex option Nile Painter on an open wheel route for at least 30 yards, but just put the ball a little too far ahead of him.
The Wolves’ defence again forced a three and out but déjà vu occurred with a punter able to run for a 1st down after a fumbled snap. This didn’t faze the elite Wolves D with another 3 and out for the Renegades after a key open field tackle by CB Ed Roberts. Special teams again were called into question after a fake punt was able to give NTU another 1st down, but this was as far as the Renegades got with the Wolves able to turn the ball over on downs after a perfectly executed dropped interception (pat down) by LB James Wilson on 4th down.
After a nice 15-yard completion to TE Mawhinney on another post route, the Wolves offence couldn’t really get going, having to punt. After another halted drive by NTU, this time the Wolves’ DBs doing great work to break up passes, the Wolves’ offence had the ball again. On a 3rd down QB Oosthuizen targeted Nile Painter on a seam but slightly underthrew the ball and it was sneakily picked off by NTU’s diminutive Spanish Safety. With the ball inside the Wolves 5-yard line it only took two attempts for the Renegades to run the ball in for the first score of the game. After a poor hold and a failed PAT, NTU led 6-0.
Even with another strong run from RB Nyashanu, the Wolves couldn’t convert a 3rd and short and were forced to punt. NTU drove the ball down the field into the red zone and looked to further their lead. NTU believed they got their touchdown with a catch in the back of the end zone, but CB Jono Weng Kan did just enough to force the receiver out of bounds. Inside the Warwick’s 10-yard line NTU were in prime position to score but with MLB Ed McNamara in the NTU QB’s face he fumbled the snap and D-Line Araan Dass was able to make the recovery.
With not long left on the clock, after QB Oosthuizen had to leave the pitch after a stinger to the wrist, star Tight End Mawhinney stepped into the position with a little dump off pass to RB Obi Ojji, with the big man known more for his bruising running style, he showed his open field running ability with a 36-yard gain. But alas, this would be to no avail with the clock running out to end the half.
Both defences forced three and outs with good pressure up front from both units to start the second half. But on Warwick’s punt, NTU were able to get a hand on it, the block giving them the ball in the red zone. On a 3rd and long, after great pressure from relentless Rookie D-Line Yassin Kamara forcing the QB to roll out, the passer tried to force a ball to his receiver but savvy vet OLB Koorosh Fatemian was there to intercept the ball, yet again the Wolves’ D stopped NTU from scoring in excellent field position.
The proceeding play after, NTU were able to pick the ball back off, QB Oosthuizen targeted TE Mawhinney running a wheel but didn’t seem to see the roaming free safety over the top who was able to watch the ball into his hands. Yet again however, the Wolves stopped the NTU offence, making them punt. After 3 unsuccessful plays the Wolves themselves punted too, Ed Roberts showed off his booming left peg with a 58-yard punt to completely flip field position, with the Wolves downing the ball within the 5.
NTU were in danger of giving up a safety with their first play going for negative yards. But a deep throw to a wideout on a fade removed all pressure that the Wolves were able to build up. On a 4th and very short the Wolves completely read the NTU play-call of a fake punt and blew up the play so much, that the NTU punter had to, in an off-script manner boot the ball away on the run.
The Wolves in their next drive faced a 3rd and 1, but even with 2 attempts at converting they could not do so, putting a lot of pressure on the defence to keep the Wolves in what was still an immensely tight game at just 6-0. After completing 2 short passes the NTU offence looked like it was driving but to stop all that momentum Rookie Phenom David Carnegy showed Frisbee what they’re missing by stripping the ball out of the RB’s hands and DT Will Carroll flopped on the ball to recover. But at midfield the Wolves’ offence could not get anything going, with pressure from NTU rendering both the pass and run useless.
After 3 and outs from both NTU and Warwick, NTU won the field position game with a much further punt than the Wolves’ and were positioned at Warwick’s 30-yard line. After completing a pass to their lanky Tight End the Renegades brought out their bunch formation in desperation to get another score, their desperation payed off with their shifty slot receiver running the ball into the end zone and converting the 2-point conversion.
After another interception for the Wolves on an underthrown pass the game’s competitive feel seemed to be over, with the silver lining being now the Wolves were able to get some defensive rookies on the field for some all-important snaps. in a drive with including a massive all-out scrap and one controversially taken timeout, Rookies Morgan SkeelsCaldwell and D-line Ethan Duras were able to make plays to take ball-carriers down. In the final seconds NTU were able to punch another touchdown in, relying on their 9-man blocking front bunch formation throughout the drive. After missing their extra point attempt, a questionable onside kick was taken from NTU and the game ended 20-0.
It seemed to be the same old story for the Wolves again, a lack of offense meant that there was too much reliance on defence, and in the end the opposition scored late touchdowns to drive the score up. With some more consistency from the offensive the Wolves could easily see games become a lot closer and with a key matchup against the Leicester Longhorns in what looks to be a must-win, the Wolves must look to improve their game.