Warwick Wolves vs. NTU Renegades 04/11/18
Flashback to almost a year ago to the day, the Warwick Wolves took a trip up to Nottingham to face the NTU Renegades to open their season, that game ended in a 45-0 trouncing of the away side and left the Wolves hurt in more ways than one. Now back to the present, to start their 2018/19 season, again the Wolves found themselves in a matchup with the Renegades. With a new look Offense led by former Middle Linebacker Matt Oosthuizen at Quarterback, the Wolves were looking for revenge for the two heavy defeats last year.
Conditions resembled that of classic football weather, gloomy overhead with rain in the air. And with the match being played on the subpar Westwood Field, the game was looking to be a slow matchup dominated by the run game, yet this was not to be the case at all.
With Warwick winning the first battle of the game; the coin toss, newly appointed Club Captain Ethan Mawhinney was assertive in his choice to receive the ball, the Wolves were looking for an early score.
The game began with an explosive return from Nile Painter, putting the Wolves at the midfield mark. But the new-fangled offense could not capitalize on the excellent field position and did not seem to click on their first drive, going three and out. The Renegades first drive started off unremarkably, an incompletion and a short run, but then was awakened by a 30-yard scramble from Trent’s imported American QB. Then NTU were served a slice of luck on the next play when a deep ball thrown on a vert route was bobbled off every part of the NTU receiver’s body but was still managed to somehow be corralled in for a large gain. On the short field ensuing, NTU punched the ball through the goal line to go 6-0 up. This didn’t faze Defensive Tackle Will Carroll however, who, on the field goal block barged through the line and blocked NTU’s PAT.
With the ball the Wolves offense spluttered again, fumbling and handing over possession to NTU, it was looking like it was going to be a long day for defence. With NTU in great field position it needed a big stop from defence to halt the Renegades. In the end it was Trent’s Quarterback who gave the Wolves a helping hand, on a scramble up the middle with absolutely no regard for ball security the QB seemed to lose grip on the ball and simply watch it fall out of his hand, presumably too busy preparing for a massive hit from MLB Ed McNamara, who was steaming in at full speed. CB Ed Roberts was able to make the heads up play and fall on the ball, giving the Wolves possession back.
QB Matt Oosthuizen showed off his scrambling ability throughout the game and managed to earn the Wolves their first earned first down of the season through a 3 yard run to the sideline, but that was the only highlight of the drive with the next 3 plays failing to gain 10 yards and another punt was required.
After yet another stop by the Wolves defence, forcing a three and out, the offence found themselves at midfield really needing to step it up a gear. Facing a key 3 rd down & 5, TE Ethan Mawhinney made a great catch after a good adjustment to the ball, but with a defender draped over him and at least 5 yards’ shy of the down marker it looked like it would be yet again be another punt. But the Tight End had other ideas, bouncing off the first tackle, he then turned the corner and sped down the touchline, not just getting a first down but another 10 yards after it too.
This conversion seemed to be the catalyst for the Wolves offence to make massive plays, on a key 4 th down and 3 yards, RB Obi Ojji took an outside handoff, raced around a defensive lineman, hurdled a diving tackler and made it past the down marker. The run game didn’t really show up on the stats sheet but this run showed the real potential that the Wolves will need to rely on in the upcoming games.
For the 3rd time in the drive the Wolves were able to convert on a conversion, this time facing a 3rd and long, Matt Oosthuizen found WR James Norris on a perfect execution of a back shoulder fade for 26 yards, with the covering cornerback just tripping up the receiver before he could extent the ball into the end zone. This first career catch for WR Norris was a perfect amalgamation of all the great contested catches he has made in training and is definitely a player to watch for this year.
At the goal line the Wolves had three attempts at getting the ball in but with 2 stuffed runs and a missed open pass to WR Lukas Anthuber, the Wolves had to attempt a field goal. But a diving NTU player made the block to stop the Wolves from opening their account for the season. A 30-yard return from that blocked kick further troubled the Wolves and gave NTU much better field position for the upcoming drive.
On the first play of the next drive, a play that seemed to be an average throw to the slot receiver on an out route ended up turning into a 60-yard touchdown. A blown coverage assignment and a missed tackle allowed the speedy receiver to blaze down the touchline all the way into the endzone. CB Charlie Coleman nearly made a spectacular play by matching the receivers speed and punching the ball out of his grasp but alas it was recovered in the end zone by NTU and the touchdown remained. The Wolves were able to stop NTU on the 2- point attempt, stopping the run, making the score 12-0.
All around offensive weapon Nile Painter again showed his class in open space by taking a bobbled kick return all the way to the halfway mark on the resulting kick-off, helped out by a fantastic double block by LB Koorosh Fatemian. Unfortunately, on this play an NTU player went down with what looked like a bad injury and needed serious medical attention, treatment went on for an hour and a half and so the game had to be cut short to 8 minute quarters, making Warwick’s comeback task a little harder. We wish the injured player all the best in his recovery.
Warwick could not do anything of note with the ball and so gave NTU prime opportunity to drive the length of the field in a 2-minute drill. With an effective bend don’t break defence employed, the Wolves were able to keep NTU out of field goal range and the half ended at 12-0.
The second half started with Warwick knowing they needed to get on the scoreboard early to put the pressure back on NTU. Both teams endured 3 and outs on their first drives with neither team able to get the run game to be effective.
After another 3 and out was forced by Warwick with good deep coverage combined with lots of pressure up front, NTU were forced to punt again. After a short long-snap NTU’s punter, with no time to get the punt off, took off on the run and remarkably managed to convert, gaining the 10 yards required. But this didn’t faze the Wolves defence who came straight back on the field and didn’t allow anything on the 3 downs, the highlight being a great blitz through the A gap by MLB Ed McNamara to stop a run for -2 yards.
With the 4th Quarter starting the offense needed to step up in order to make it a game and offence did exactly that to start the drive. It started with a perfectly executed throw by Matt Oosthuizen rolling to his right to WR Lukas Anthuber on a wheel route for 27 yards. Then Oosthuizen found weapon Nile Painter on a seam for a 30-yard gain, avoiding 4 would-be tacklers on his run after catch. But a third large yardage catch in a row was just too much to ask, rolling to his right Oosthuizen found WR Will Whiteley on a vert route, who had been shut down impressively by the NTU corner for most of the game. The ball was very well thrown to a point only the receiver could catch it after some clever body positioning from Whiteley, who has clearly been working on his contested catch ability, but on the attempted diving catch the ball just sneaked through the hands of the receiver, if caught it would have put the ball just 5 yards away from the NTU endzone.
This missed opportunity ended up being instrumental as an incompletion and then an all-out blitz by NTU to stuff a run meant that the Wolves had to attempt a 4th and 18 yard conversion. A low snap meant that all QB Matt Oosthuizen could do was jump on the ball and end the Wolves’ promising drive.
NTU managed to move the ball successfully down the field, advancing into the redzone with a flawless back shoulder fade for 20 yards. Then on a toss play to the same player, NTU were able to score another touchdown with the running back following some good blocks into the corner of the endzone. But yet again the Wolves maintained some dignity by stopping the 2- point conversion.
On NTU’s final drive some young Wolves DB’s made some nice plays to show promise for the upcoming season, Rookie David Carnegy with an aggressive tackle to stop a run short and CB Charlie Coleman putting his body on the line in a contested catch to stop a receiver almost double his size. The Wolves were able to stop NTU and the match finished 18-0.
This opening game definitely shows potential for the Wolves this year, with defence making multiple stops throughout the game, it was only a couple of large yardage plays that allowed NTU to put up points. With Offence having promising drives with QB Matt Oosthuizen spreading the ball out to multiple targets, it shows that the Wolves passing game has come on great strides since last year. If the running game can get going, then this Wolves offence will unquestionably put up many more points this year.
Next up, we take a trip to Loughborough to face their recently relegated, run-heavy unit, in what will sure to be an aggressive, hard battle between the two teams.