It’s one of the biggest matches of the year, homecoming! Not only was it our first home game of the season but it was our first game back at the Norton Playing Fields. Coming off an impressive performance against Manchester, the offense looked set to continue their dominance. An 11 play, 50-yard drive was capped off by a 12-yard screen to #88 Harrison Bazley for the first touchdown of the day and the first touchdown at the new home of Sabres football. A blocked PAT meant the score sat at 6-0 to the Sabres.
Next up, the defense. After LJMU scored a total of 75 points against the UCLan Rams, the defense had to step up after a frustrating performance against the Manchester Tyrants. On the defense’s opening drive they were able to stop LJMU’s run game and pin them back to their own 5-yard line. 3 & out and with a poor punt, the offense got the ball at LJMU’s 30-yard line. The offense, keen to capitalise on good field position went straight to work with a 26-yard screen to (no surprise here) Harrison Bazley again to put the Sabres back into the RedZone. A sack on the next play only meant that rookie WR #5 Rashalen Nayanah Rajh (Rash) had to 9-yards to score the Sabres’ next touchdown. A botched on the 2-pt conversion meant the score sat at 12-0 to the Sabres.
The defence set the tone once again by shutting down the ground game, pushing them back from 1st & 10 to 3rd & 21. Once again LJMU were forced to punt from their endzone to their own 30-yard line. With the offence on a roll, it looked like LJMU had finally found something as they held the Sabres offence to a 4th & 12 situation. By being too far away to attempt the field goal and too close to punt without going out for a touchback the Sabres opted go for it on 4th down. With the O-line holding strong, #10 Sam Worrall was able to send it to #89 Joseph Warriner to secure a crucial 1st down. So, once again the Sabres are back in the RedZone, so what do they do? Of course, they pass it to Harrison Bazley for another touchdown. A successful pass to Rash secured the 2pt conversion, putting the Sabres well ahead at 20-0.
LJMU finally managed to get their first, first down, of the game…thanks to a 15-yard penalty for Pass interference. Nevertheless, an impressive run saw the defense getting pushed back to the 21-yard line. With the defense holding strong, LJMU decided to settle for points with a Field goal attempt. This proved costly as #39 Ciaran Miles denied them the three points while #17 Alex Garcia managed to recover the ball only to be tackled at the halfway mark.
Two interceptions by both teams (one by #4 Danny Ardron) and a 3 & out by LJMU meant the first half ended 20-0 to the Sheffield sabres.
With the second half under way, the defense picked off where they left with another 3 & out to set the offence up on their own 36-yard line. What followed was a set of brilliant runs by Harrison Bazley, a 15-yard screen secured the Sabres a first down and a 30-yard pass by Worrall gave the Sabres offence their 4th touchdown of the day. Good coverage by LJMU broke up the pass on the 2pt conversion, 26-0 to the Sabres.
With the defensive back on, it looked destined for another 3 and out. On the 3rd down, with the LJMU QB rolling out, they were able to make a 43-yard pass to not only give them a first down but put them in Sabres territory. With the defense on the back foot, the front 6 managed to fend off LJMU’s ground game, forcing them to throw the ball. A late hit on Danny Ardron after nearly picking off the QB for a second time pushed LJMU back to a 3rd & 22 and looked set for another stop. With the secondary getting caught out by a 19 yard wheel route and an offside penalty on the 4th down, LJMU had secured a critical first down. Despite LJMU’s best efforts to not score by committing yet more penalties, mistakes in the backfield meant that LJMU were able to finally get points on the board. Holding on the 2pt conversion by LJMU and great pressure up the middle forced the score to 26-6.
After getting the ball back, it looked like LJMU had finally figured out how to defend against the Sabres pass offence by forcing them to punt on the halfway mark. The defence resumed normally service shortly after with a fumble recovery by Ciaran Miles to set the offense up at the offence on the 7-yard line. With LJMU’s defence holding the line and a field goal blocked by LJMU, the score remained 26-6 heading into the 4th quarter.
The fourth quarter was dominated by both defense’s, a set of 4 & outs and punts finished off the game. Next up the Sabres will be taking on the high scoring 3-0 UCLan Rams who are fresh off a bye week.
Offense: #88 Harrison Bazley
Defense: #77 Robert Ebbatson
Special Teams: #38 Ciaran Miles
Rookie of the Day: #5 Rashalen Nayanah Rajh
Lineman: #68 Oli Carnell