The Graduation class of 2002 saw the pulling apart of the Sabres electrifying offence. Going into the new season the Sabres knew they would have to totally re-build their offence. The defence on the however suffered little at graduation, with all of the previous years starters being retained. 2002/03 saw left tackle Eddie Mellor move to defensive tackle with awesome impact. It was also a standout year for veterans Stephen Parry and Ian Briggs who cemented their roles as starters. The defence was also boosted by the recruitment of rookie linebackers Adam Sawyer and Will Arran.
The Sabres also managed to recruit well on offence. Starting QB Paul Musker and WR Jon Cuthbert both stood out. As did RB Jonathan Weller and Giant Offensive Tackle Colin Payne.
Hopes were high going into the new season, however an inability to score consistently and a high turnover rate costs the Sabres dearly.
This season also saw the first Varsity match up against cross town rivals the Sheffield Hallam Warriors.
|Away Team||Home Team|
|Sheffield Sabres||0-20||Warwick Wolves|
|Leeds Celtics||18-0||Sheffield Sabres|
|Lancaster Bombers||12-6||Sheffield Sabres|
|Sheffield Sabres||12-30||UT Cougars|
|Sheffield Sabres||0-14||Lancaster Bombers|
|Sheffield Sabres||6-6||Hull Sharks|
|SHU Warriors||0-2||Sheffield Sabres|
|UT Cougars||14-2||Sheffield Sabres|
|Sheffield Sabres||6-43||Loughborough Aces|
|Stirling Clansmen||32-0||Sheffield Sabres|
|Sheffield Sabres||20-0||SHU Warriors|
|BCAFL Northern Conference – Eastern Division Standings|
|58||Stephen “Cheeks” Parry||DL|
|81||Rafael Quintanilla Escalante||WR|
|Sheffield Sabres 0-20 Warwick Wolves (Friendly)|
|This pre-season friendly was dubbed as the “Eyles-Monteith Memorial Bowl”. A close encounter was expected, two early turnovers saw two early touchdowns for the Wolves. As this was a friendly the Sabres rotate their players in and out to ensure everyone got game time, as a result the Sabres never settled into a rhythm.Sheffield’s match at Warwick didn’t manage to escape the rain that has been battering most of the country over the weekend. This made ball handling difficult and on the Sabres’ first possession and dropped right pitch saw Warwick Corner James Michael pick up the ball in the end zone for the games opening touchdown. Wolves receiver Findley Umbrella caught the 2 point conversion.
The Sabres’ offence came back onto the field and began a promising drive which ended prematurely when Sheffield quarterback Paul Musker was picked off when looking deep. Despite some outstanding play from the Sheffield defence, the Wolves had too short a field to be stopped and they made the score 14-0 when tail back Peregrine Carter ran in the ball from 12 yards out on a sweep right.
Sheffield’s next drive saw them move the ball 70 yards, including an amazing 30 yard catch under incredible pressure by receiver Nick East. The drive came up short when a 25 yard field goal by Will Abbot was kicked wide left.
The Sheffield defence dominated the rest of the first half, stopping the Wolves from gaining any momentum. A fumble recovered by Defensive Tackle Matthew Court was returned to the five yard line but the Sabres were unable to put the ball in the end zone. The halftime score was 14-0.
The Sabres Offence came out at half time but failed to gain any momentum due to the rotation system which enable all Sabres to take part in the game. A further Wolves score was added when corner James Kingston got underneath a high bomb from Sabres Quarterback Jonathon Weller.
|Leeds Celtics 18-0 Sheffield Sabres|
|With winds gusting up to gale-force and torrential rain this game was not the best conditions to start a season. Leeds send out a message to the whole of BCAFL showing that they would go on to bounce back from an 0-8 record in the previous game the finish this campaign 8-0. The Sabres Offence was still trying to rebuild they were not strong enough to overcome Leeds.High winds and sweeping rain were the order of the day, as Leeds Celtics traveled to Sheffield Sabres on the opening weekend of the BCAFL 2002/2003. Sabre Field of Norton however stood up to the onslaught; its unique drainage facilities allowing for the use of pads and cleats, rather than the much anticipated pedalos. The passing game was largely non-existent in the first half, aside from HB Screens which provided good early field position for Leeds. Stalwart defending however by the Sheffield defence kept the Leeds offence from scoring early, so it was up to the Leeds defence to put the first points on the board. Unable to punt due to high winds, Sheffield found themselves at fourth and long deep into their own territory. This allowed Leeds’ Dan Delvechio to break through the Sheffield line, forcing a tackle in the End zone and racking up a two point lead in the first quarter. With Sheffield disheartened, this lead to a quick returning drive by Leeds, and a touchdown run by FB Dan Prewitt through the heart of the defence.
Despite good running by Sheffield RB Dave Leslie, whose speed and strength allowed for a variety of plays, Sheffield found it difficult to triumph over the conditions, and their much anticipated passing game did not really surface in the first half. A further Leeds score and two point conversion (both run-in by QB Tom Lockard) left Sheffield trailing 16-0 at half-time. Loss of key players due to injury, Sheffield returned in the second half as a changed but resilient side. A marginal drop in the ferocity of the wind allowed for Sheffield QB Paul Musker to show off his arm, notably with a long completion to WR Tom Beaumont. Sheffield’s defence looked stronger than ever, sealing up the outside and tackling with vigour, with good penetration from the Defensive Line breaking up plays in the Leeds backfield. However, Sheffield were unable to notch up the points, and Leeds sealed the game in the fourth quarter, with a Safety by DT Rob Taylor. Week One over, and the first round of the Yorkshire Bragging Rights goes to Leeds, with an 18-0 victory over a valiant Sheffield Sabres.
|Lancaster Bombers 12-6 Sheffield Sabres|
|A match of two halfs the first half saw Sheffields offence move the ball with confidence and capped of the half with a long run from debutant Jonanthan Weller. In stark contrast the second half was an error strewn performance by the Offence with three interceptions and a lost fumble.Lancaster’s trip to Sabre Field was blessed with little wind or rain, and even brief appearances by the Sun; a rare occurrence in the Peak District this late in the year. Such good conditions on a pitch which had stood up well to recent storms and rain set up an exciting game, with both offences using a varied playbook to test the opposition defences to the extreme. Sheffield’s defence stood firmest of the two, and a forced fumble at around mid-field set up a good Sheffield drive, culminating in a Field goal attempt, blocked at the 18 yard line. The game remained scoreless, with both defences dominating the field until late in the second quarter when a perfectly executed sweep put Sheffield RB Jonathan Weller beyond the despairing Linebackers grasp. Even with two Safeties in the backfield, Lancaster were unable to compete with his speed and agility, and the 40 yard touchdown run gave Sheffield it’s first points in the BCAFL 2002/2003 Season. The extra point attempt was missed, following good pressure from the Lancaster defensive line. Tough defence kept the score at 6-0 in Sheffield’s favour until half time.
High spirits throughout the Half-Time talk was possibly responsible for allowing the Bomber’s to blast back into the game. Despite a deep kick-off by Sheffield’s Will Abbott, the Lancaster KR Bob Stanges picked through the marauding Sabres and returned the kick, untouched, into the Sheffield endzone. Sheffield’s defence stood firm to the 2 point conversion attempt, and blocked the middle run inches short of the endzone. The score stood at 6-6 just moments into the second half. The game shortly turned into a defensive battle, with excellent performances by Sheffield DT Steve Parry and LB Chidi Edordu, who’s tackling and forced fumbles helped inspire the Sheffield defence to a Shut Out for the game. Even an interception by the Sheffield FS (and FB!) Tom Whiting in good field position could not help the Sabres regain the lead. It was left to good D-Line pressure by Lancaster, and awareness by DE Andrew Doran to pick off the wayward pass and return it for Lancaster’s second Touchdown of the game. The two point conversion attempt failed, as a sweep to the outside was easily read and dealt with by the Sheffield Linebackers. This however left Sheffield six points down, with time running out in the fourth quarter. To make matters worse, the battle was taking its toll on players from both sides; the medics’ skateboard-like trolley in frequent use, leaving Sheffield with a much depleted squad. Even Sheffield could not overcome these odds, and a final interception by Lancaster on a long pass by Sheffield meant that the Bombers could take a knee and run out the clock.
|Sheffield Sabres 12-30 UT Cougars|
|A tough game saw the Sabres overpowered by the Teeside Cougars. An injury to Mat Court saw the Sabres defence lose concentartion and let in three quick scores. The Sabres passing game spluttered into attack with its first and only airbourne touchdown of the regular season.The unusual luxury of sunshine greeted Sheffield’s visit to Teesside. An early lapse in concentration lead to Teesside returning the opining kick off to Sheffield’s 2 yard line. Despite a valiant goal line stand by the Sabres, Teesside finally punched the ball into the end zone when with Ben McQueeny. The ensuing 2 point conversion failed.
After Sheffield were forced to punt on the next possession Teesside looked to build on their lead. However a fumbled handoff in the backfield lead to Sheffield Linebacker Adam Sawyer returning the football for a 20 yard Touchdown to level the scores. Teesside were quick to respond when Defensive Tackle, Rich Marshall sacked the Sheffield Quarterback in the end zone for a safety.
As the first quarter neared an end Teesside Quarterback Pete Rogers found a wide-open Gaz Eastwood for a 47-yard Touchdown pass. Rich Marshall ran in the two-point conversion.
The second quarter began on a low note as the Sabres lost Star defensive Tackle Matt Court to injury. The delay in the game lead to another lapse in Sheffield’s concentration as Gaz Eastwood beat Sheffield’s secondary to haul in a 19 yard catch for his second Touchdown of the day.
On the way to the red zone Wide Receiver Nick East made several catches when he gained blimp like airtime showing that this could be the start of a good year for the Sabres. However Teesside’s defence stood firm.
Closing out the first half as a 1 yard sneak by Pete Rogers and a Ben McQueeney Conversion to put the half time score to 30-6.
After halftime Sheffield came out fired up, forcing Teesside to go three and out on almost every series. Going in to the fourth quarter the game looked to be simply a case of running down the clock, however Sheffield Safety Ian Briggs had other idea’s, picking off Teesside’s Long Bomb and returning the ball 40 yards to the halfway line. Sheffield Offence set up a good drive moving the ball to the Teesside 30 yard line, with powerful runs from half back Jonathon Weller. A quick pass by Sheffield quarterback Paul Musker looked good for a first down. However Wide Receiver Will Abbott clearly had other ideas as he bounced of Teesside’s linebackers and outpaced the secondary to run the play in for a Touchdown, to put the final score 30-12 in Teesside’s favour.
|Sheffield Sabres 0-14 Lancaster Bombers|
|The Bombers defence produced a strong showing which resulted in a complete reverse of the previous season’s scoreline.Sunday 24th November heralded the season’s second meeting between conference rivals Sheffield Sabres and Lancaster Bombers. Lancaster had travelled to Sheffield in Week 2, and returned with a 12-6 victory, giving them the psychological edge in this week 5 match-up as Sheffield made the trip North. The game promised to be an exciting one; with the Sabres offence lining up in a three receiver set, but the Bomber’s living up to their name using a four receiver set as a target for the Quarterback.
Neither offence could find its feet in the first half though, with a heavy blitzing Lancaster Defence rushing Sheffield QB Paul Musker, and aggressive tackling by Sheffield debutant DT Oscar Salas and 2nd year Sabres LB Chidi Edordu broke down Lancaster’s running game forcing them to the air. Here Sheffield looked reasonably comfortable, with the Sheffield Defensive backfield looking more than a match for any passing game. However Lancaster fought on, and an impressive drive late in the second quarter put them in excellent scoring position, with a First Down on the 4 yard line. Setting up in their preferred tricycle (trips) formation, with three receivers to the right, the QB rolled right to find an open receiver just inside the endzone. He made no mistake this time, and with no Sheffield DB nearby to break up the play the touchdown was scored. The two-point conversion attempt was successful, with a half-back dive just breaking the plane for a score.
Sheffield hit back immediately, with a determined offensive drive culminating in a swing pass to FB Tom Whiting which he broke into a huge gain by evading Lancaster’s linebackers. It was in fact just the slick Astroturf surface which brought him down; a slip whilst sidestepping the Bomber’s Safeties ended the play and the half, with Sheffield trailing 8-0.
The second half went in much the same way as the first, with both teams being forced to punt by seemingly tireless defences. This immense pressure was getting to the offences and mistakes were beginning to be made. Sheffield’s Defence were forcing fumbles with huge hits on running plays, with the alertness to recover the ball, and the swiftness of the Defensive Backs were breaking up the passing plays with numerous bat-downs and interceptions. It was however the Bomber’s who struck the hardest blow, and as fate would have it, it was against the same play which had given Sheffield so much hope at the end of the first half. Pressure on the Sabres QB forced a slightly wayward swing pass to the full-back which was easily read and picked off by a Lancaster LB, and run back 30 yards, untouched, for the score. Sheffield were down 14-0, and despite spirited play in the 4th quarter, 14-0 is how the score remained.
|Sheffield Sabres 6-6 Hull Sharks|
|With the Sabres struggling on offence, the defence stepped up and only an unfortunate interception stopped the Sabres from taking the win.For the third consecutive season, the Sheffield Sabres travelled to Hull to battle it out in what has fast become the most hotly contested grudge match in the North-Eastern division. With Hull’s success in their previous season, it was clear their ‘old-school’ style of play would be on show; running the ball with three or often four Tight Ends and attempting to power up the middle of the pitch, tiring defences with a succession of short yardage gains. However, old-school football is not easy to play without old-school players, and the lack of leather helmets, penny-farthings, and handlebar moustaches proved fatal as Hull offence relentlessly failed to move the ball. Sheffield however were playing with nothing to lose, and the inspired change of position for Tom Whiting from Free Safety to Running Back allowed Sheffield’s offence to tear up the field, being held only by numerous courageous stands by the Hull defence. It took until the second quarter for Sheffield to put up some points, when a perfectly executed screen pass to Whiting allowed him to crunch the ball into the corner of the end-zone for a Touchdown. The extra-point attempt was blocked, as the Hull defence refused to lose heart, and the score remained 6-0 at half time.
The game turned into one of defensive domination in the second half, as conditions underfoot worsened. Good line pressure from the Sabres’ defence gave Hull no opportunities to drive forwards, with DT Oscar Salas and DT Eddy Mellor picking up MVP’s for their efforts. Only excellent punting and pressure from Hull’s gunners would improve field position enough so, such that Sheffield’s offence were struggling to string together enough First Downs to drive the length of the pitch. It was after one such punt that Sheffield found themselves with the ball on their own 4 yard line, going into the final quarter. Passing under good Sharks pressure allowed Hull’s LB Pekka Ketonen to step up a beat the Sheffield receivers to the ball, running it in untouched for a 10 yard interception return, and levelling the score. Hull’s offence came out looking for the 2 point conversion to take the lead, but the Sabres’ defence again thwarted their opposition with CB Daniel Eyles reading the option play and making the vital tackle at the two yard line. Strong final drives from both offences were not enough to put points on the board, and at 6 a-piece the game went to overtime.
With Sheffield losing the coin toss, Hull elected to receive, but were undone when Sheffield’s Special Teams captain Will Arran annihilated the kick returner forcing the ball loose, and Sheffield’s Mark Price dived on the fumble. Despite excellent field position, and a determined effort by the Sabres’ offence, Hull again stood firm and thus overtime continued in much the same way as the previous hours play. Arran again came up trumps on Sheffield’s Special Teams, forcing a fumble on a punt return, this time recovered by Sheffield’s Jake Treen. With just ninety seconds remaining in overtime, Sabres took up the ball and began the final drive of the match. QB Paul Musker found his form, and two plays into the drive found WR Nick East on an out pattern, who turned upfield for a 40 yard gain. The touchdown saving tackle came inside the Hull 10 yard line, giving Sheffield one last chance to claim their first BCAFL victory 0f 2002/2003. Electing to pass, Musker hit WR Rafeal Escalante for a diving catch, which after much debating by the referees was ruled to be just inches short of the end-zone. With the pass completed, overtime expired, and both teams breathed a sigh of relief and regret at having neither lost nor won such a gruelling encounter. The result: A tie after overtime.
|Sheffield Hallam Warriors 0-2 Sheffield Sabres|
|The Sheffield Hallam Warriors made the short trip up the road to play city rivals the Sheffield Sabres. The Sabres, a struggling team, and the Warriors a rookie team only managed to produce a 2-0 scoreline in the favour of the Sabres.After completing their 2002 regular season games the Sabres had just one more battle before they could go into their Christmas break. This game would be the cross city derby against Sheffield Hallam Warriors.
The Warriors, playing there first ever game, were clearly not overawed buy the task ahead of them as they forced the Sabres to go 3 and out throughout the first quarter. Sheffield began the second quarter of to a good start by moving the ball to the Warriors 3 yard line. Kicker Will Abbott hooked the ball wide left on the attempted field goal.
Late in the second quarter the Sabres again moved the ball to the Warriors red zone when Wide Receiver Jon Cuthbert was tackled short of the first down on an attempted 4th down conversion the chance to score looked as if it had disappeared. However the Sabres’ defence clearly had other ideas. A high shotgun snap forced the Warriors running back to pick up the football, great pressure by the Sabres’ D-Line forced the runner to step out of bounds from the back of the end zone giving the first points of the day to the Sabres.
The third quarter began in dramatic style. Strong pressure form Defensive Tackle Steven Parry forced the Warriors QB to throw an interception to 3rd year cornerback and club captain Dan Eyles. After some brilliant blocking by Free Safety Tom Whiting, Eyles ran the ball back for 35 yards only to be stopped short by an ankle tap from the Warriors offence.
With the game nearing an end the Sabres marched relentlessly downfield only to be stopped short on another 4th down conversion. This gave the warriors one last chance to dive downfield and score a game winner. However the Sabres defence stood firm and forced the Warriors into a 4 and out. Leaving Sheffield QB to take a knee and seal the victory.
|UT Cougars 14-2 Sheffield Sabres|
|Sheffield returned from the Christmas break and with the help of a Mellor safety lead up until the fourth quarter.UT Cougars travelled to Sheffield, hoping to repeat their early season victory and further their playoff chances, whilst Sheffield were still searching for the first victory. What Teesside found was a determined Sheffield side, whose first half passing game forced the Cougar’s defence into retreat. Unable to force the ball into the endzone however, Teesside’s offence would be given a chance to drive back into Sheffield territory. With the defences both standing firm, the only score of the half was a first quarter Safety, with Sabres’ DT Eddy Mellor bursting through the line of scrimmage like a tram, making the tackle on Teesside’s punter as he attempted to scramble out of the endzone.
Teesside returned from the half time break resolute on both sides of the football. Despite having no completed passes throughout the game, their running backs consistently picked up the short yardages required to convert to First Downs, and a tiring Sheffield defence were gradually picked apart. It was in the 4th Quarter that the break for Teesside finally came, with Rich Marshall and Ben McQueeny successful on red-zone offence, running in two Touchdowns to put the game beyond Sheffield’s reach. A two-point conversion was added by Teesside QB Pete Rogers, leaving the final score Teesside 14 – Sheffield 2.
|Sheffield Sabres 6-43 Lougborough Aces|
|A strong second half from the previous seasons Northern Conference winners, gave Loughborough the win.In a day that started well for the Loughborough Aces, and got gradually poorer and poorer for the Sheffield Sabres, spectators were to witness a resounding 43 to 6 victory for the home side. Both teams came out passing well in the first half, with several long completions from Sheffield QB #7 Paul Musker to wideout #27 Jon Cuthbert, but Loughborough were to cap off their passing with strong running from tail-back Mattar M’Boge, for whom Sheffield’s defence in a rather unusual state of affairs could not find an answer. Two rushing touchdowns for M’boge in the first half brought the two sides into half time with Loughborough comfortably ahead 12-0.
Hope was brought back to the Sheffield Sabres at the beginning of the second half, with the kick-off team’s pursuit of the ball forcing a fumble, picked up by Sheffield’s #28 Jake Treen and run in 30 yards for the touchdown. The play cost the Sabres perhaps more than the 6 points they had gained, losing two key defensive players to injury; the tackler #38 Tom Whiting and the scorer #28 Jake Treen, brought down as he crossed into the endzone. With weaknesses in these key defensive positions, Loughborough found good space to attack Sheffield with a steady mix of pass and run plays, and before the third quarter was out Loughborough had picked up 3 more touchdowns, taking the lead 30-6. There seemed nothing Sheffield’s defence could do to hold up the onslaught from the Aces, despite numerous tackles and sacks from Sheffield’s MVP #69 Eddy Mellor, and Loughborough were to run up the score to 43-6 by the end of the game. Only the Sabres Special Teams had seemed successful against a strong Aces side, with one touchdown from kick-off, one field goal blocked and six out of seven PATs charged down.
|Stirling Clansmen 32-0 Sheffield Sabres|
|The much depleted Sabres were only able to field 12 men for the season ending game and after injury dropped the Sabres to a ironman 11, the result seemed inevitable. The Sabres managed to keep the eventual National Champions to only 10 points in the first three quarters, until a fourth quarter onslaught from the National Champions.Stirling Clansmen made the long haul down to Sheffield, determined to chalk up a victory to guarantee home field advantage in the playoffs. For the Sheffield Sabres, the game marked the final match up of the 2002/2003 BCAFL campaign, and possibly the final Sabres game for several of Sheffield’s more aged players. The much depleted Sheffield squad were not to be overawed with the challenge that faced them, and came out hard in the first quarter. The aggressive Sabres defensive line, lead by the games leading tackler DT #69 Eddy Mellor, and backed up by other stars such as #79 Ben Griffiths, #58 Steve Parry, and rookie lineman #56 Mat McDonagh, forced the Clansmen to turn the ball over on almost every possession, as they were unable to gain yardage against the fired-up Sheffield squad. The Sabres’ offence showed promise too, with good yardage through the air from QB #7 Paul Musker to WR #27 Jon Cuthbert, and hard fought yardage on the ground from Sheffield’s new monster RB #19 Adam Sawyer. However, Stirling’s defence proved too resilient, and the first quarter remained scoreless.
Playing downhill in the second quarter, Stirling were able to make good use of their dominant size, and began to break through the Sheffield front line. Were it not for excellent pursuit from Linebackers #51 Chidi Edordu and #28 Jake Treen, the scoreline may have been quite different by half time. As it happened, the first score followed from a Sheffield defensive stand inside their own redzone, and from an inch perfect punt by Stirling’s #2 Gary McNey, pinning the Sheffield offence inside their own 5 yard line. An attempted swing pass right by the Sabres fell incomplete, but was deemed to have travelled laterally, and after much confusion Sheffield’s RB was tackled inside the endzone. Stirling took the lead 2-0, and as their spirit grew, so did the power of their runners. Picking up five or six yard gains with every rush they attempted on their next drive put them quickly at the Sheffield two yard line, and from that distance even against Sheffield’s tough goal-line defence, Stirling were not to be stopped. It was Gary McNey, lined up as an H-Back, who eventually punched the ball through to the end-zone, and Carlos Rocca who picked up the two point conversion. Sheffield went in at half time, losing 10-0, but a long way from being defeated.
The third quarter showed resilience from both sides, as the defences were to hold firm against strong offensive drives. Injury to Sheffield’s international WR #81 Raphael Quintinella Escobar put DB / LB #26 Daniel Eyles as the Sabres primary receiver, who made two catches despite serious hand injury in an effort to fight back against the Scottish invaders. Sheffield defensive backfield again proved its might, with DB #33 Chris Doneghan and QB turn Safety #7 Paul Musker helping to sweep up any mistakes and keep the quarter scoreless.
So the teams moved into the fourth at a score of ten to zero, but it was here that a breaking point was to be reached. Three touchdowns in this one quarter against a tiring Sheffield squad was the onslaught that Stirling had travelled down to give, and they started the scoring in style. A play-action fake inside the Sheffield redzone threw the Sabres linebackers off the scent, and left the Clansmen’s Gary McNey wide open at the edge of the endzone to make the simple catch for the six points. Andreas Sommerseth made no mistake from short yardage to add the two point conversion, and the Sabres stepped forwards once again to receive a kick-off at eighteen points down. The next drive was a frustrating one for Sheffield. Good yardage gains went to waste as McNey, now playing at Strong Safety for Stirling, made an excellent read on a slant pass, and plucked the ball away from the Sheffield receiver’s hands. Heading for the corner of the endzone, he powered into a crushing tackle but was able to clip the pylon with the ball, signifying a touchdown – McNey’s second of the game. Realising that Stirling’s DB’s were getting greedy, Sheffield QB #7 Musker made use of the pump fake to leave receivers wide open play after play in Stirling’s backfield. However, the defensive backs were rescued on more than one occasion by a destructive Stirling defensive line, who would pressure the Sheffield quarterback with deflected passes and numerous tackles. Eventually, it was left to Stirling to finish the game with one more score, this time a receiving touchdown to WR James Thompson, with the two point conversion added again by Andreas Sommerseth, who ran through a hole so wide he could have scored whilst pulling a rickshaw. Stirling left Sheffield with a resounding victory, moving into the playoffs with a score line of 32-0. However, they could not leave with the spirit and sheer guile of the 12 man Sabres team, who finished the season with their heads held high.
|Sheffield Sabres 20-0 Sheffield Hallam Warriors|
|After a fruitless regular season the Sabres recovered and won and helped Sheffield Univesity win the overall Varsity series.The Sheffield Hallam Warriors won the toss an elected to receive. The Warriors immediately showed that they were up for the game when their running attack gained a couple of first downs, until the Sabres’ defence forced a punt. An excellent punt put the Sabres within their own 10 yard line, and a fired up Warriors defence forced the Sabres into a 3 and out. However a roughing the kicker penalty gave the Sabres a fresh set of downs, and this time they managed to move the ball, through their running game, up to the Warriors 20 yard line, however another valiant stand by the Warriors defence forced Sheffield into a 4 and out.
The first half continued in this fashion until an injury to Sabres Guard Johnny lead to a long delay. The first half finished with the Warriors driving and being stopped as time ran out on 4th down.
The second half saw the Sabres receive the ball, from the kickoff, and immediately used their renowned passing game with wide out Nick East hauling in several quick passes. However when a bootleg by Sabres QB Paul Musker was stopped short the Warriors got the ball back from the ensuing punt. The Sheffield defence stood firm with first a deflected pass, a superb backfield tackle (by NT Oscar Salas) and then a forced fumble recovered by LB Jake Treen.
This time the Sabres Offence weren’t to be denied. The first play on the drive, a sweep right by running back Dave Leslie went for only a 1 yard gain. However, on the next play, a sweep left, Dave went on a 55 yard scamper behind excellent lead blocking from FB Jonathan Weller and WR Will Abbot. This big play fired up the Sabres on the pitch and the fans on the sideline. QB Paul Musker, seeing that the Warriors secondary was stepping up for the run, opted for the pass a 10 yard completion to Will Abbot was good for the first down, giving the Sabres 1st and Goal with inches to go. A quick pass to WR Jon Cuthbert fell short and then a QB sneak which seemed to have broken the plane was called for no-gain. On 3rd and Goal a quick pitch caught the Warriors linebackers off guard and let Dave Leslie in for the first score of the game.
For the extra point the Sabres sent in their Field Goal Unit. Holder Jonathan Weller took the long snap and instead of placing the ball for the kick dropped back to pass and found kicker Will Abbot wide open in the endzone, leaving the score at 8-0 going into the fourth quarter.
The Warriors responded by opening up their passing game with several short completions to former Sabres coach Mark Squire. The Uni defence picked up that Squire was the Warriors QB go-to guy and soon put double coverage on him. The next passing play saw this double coverage work perfectly as Strong Safety Ian Briggs picked off the pass and used his pace to race to the corner of the end zone. The ensuing 2 point conversion fell short.
After the kick off the Warriors QB decided to run the option however Sabres star linebacker Chidi Edordu read the play and laid a hit that made many players and spectators wince, propelling the runner into his own crowded sideline. This seemed to force the Warriors to the inside using many FB dives up the middle. While moving the ball, Hallam also ate up valuable playing time. When the Uni recovered the ball from the punt there was little over 4 minutes left. The Sabres reverted to their running game to eat up more time. With 1:26 left in the game the Warriors had used all their timeouts and the Sabres, on third down, needed only one yard to be able to take a knee. A quick pitch left to RB Dave Leslie was good for the first, Dave however had other ideas using his pace to get to the corner, and then his strength to knock over the covering Warriors cornerback, he was able to run the ball in for his second Touchdown of the day. The two point conversion failed.
The Warriors, knowing they had to move the ball a distance and fast sent out 5 receivers. An underthrown pass from the Warriors QB was picked off by FS Tom Whiting. With only 26 seconds left on the clock the Sabres took a knee and sealed victory 20 – 0.
The win also gave Sheffield University the winning point to bring the varsity trophy back to Western Bank. After three successive years of Hallam victories, the University won this year’s competition by a single point.