Heading into this game it was quite simple, win and we’re in, lose and we have to rely on other results from the rest of Div 1 North. After a hugely disappointing loss to the LJMU fury, the Sabres were left scratching their heads. Nevertheless, the bye week gave the Sabres enough time to plan for UCLan. Last time the teams met was a close 20-13, which saw the defence get 6 turnovers and last minute 4th down stop which secured the W.
To kick things off, the offence started with terrible field position as #19 Tej Mekako dropped the kick return. The offence started slow, with their only movement coming from a Pass Interference against the Rams. Now with it being third down the #10 QB Sam Worrall launched the ball only for it to be picked off on the 40-yard line. On come the defence and things didn’t look any better as the Rams were quick to pick up first downs thanks to their running game. With Rams offence in the Red zone, CB #9 Mofi Jaiyebo picked off the Rams QB in the end zone, making it his 4th pick against the Rams alone. Unfortunately, the offence couldn’t capitalise with a quick 3-and-out.
A short kick meant that the defence was placed on the 29-yard line. With a lucky break in the last drive, the Sabres defence once again managed to find their edge. After an incomplete pass, #44 CB Nathan Brereton tackled the Jet receiver in the backfield for a 5-yard loss. The Rams quickly responded with a 14-yard pass to set up 4th & 1. With the Rams electing to run it, but with the combined effects of #55 DE Mo Ahmed and #77 DT Robert Ebbatson the Rams RB had nowhere to go as the Sabres’ D-Line held strong.
The first big break for offence final came as a 35-yard catch and run finally put the Sabres offence into the Rams territory. But just as things were looking good for the Sabres, the Rams sent pressure and managed to strip the ball away from Sam as Rams once again secured a turnover. With the Sabres defence out once again it didn’t take long for the offence to get back on as the Rams passing game was quickly shut down.
The Sabres were the ones who dealt the first blow with a touchdown pass to #89 Joe Warriner, with the extra point blocked the Sabres took the lead 0-6. With the offence finally putting points on the board, the defence needed another stop as halftime was approaching. But the Rams finally broke through to even the scores 6-6 heading into the break.
With the score tied 6-6, the Rams didn’t hesitate to put points on the board with a kick return TD to bring the score to 13-6. A good kick return by #11 Nana Bimpong put the offence on their own 47-yard line. This around the offence would make good use of the field position as Sam found #14 WR Ben Huxley as he tip-toed his way to a 53-yard touchdown. With the Sabres failing to convert the 2pts the score sat at 13-12 to the Rams.
With the offence finally finding their momentum, it was up to the defence to put a stop to the Rams offence. At first, it seemed like they did as the defence managed to back the Rams up to a 3rd & 19 situation thanks to the hustle of #38 S Ciaran Miles and #19 DE Tej Mekako, but a defensive holding call gave the Rams a fresh set of downs. Breathing a sigh of relief, the Rams quickly put their good fortune to use as they secure their third touchdown of the game thanks to 36-yard throw. The score sat at 19-12 to the Rams.
The offence once again struggled as they failed to capitalise on a good kick return by #88 Harrison Bazley. The defence didn’t fare better either as the Rams began to march down the field, exposing mistakes made by the Sabres’ pass coverage. This allowed the Rams to set up a 34-yard pass to secure their 4th touchdown of the day. However, the Sabres were going down easy, a block PAT was recovered by Mofi to give the Sabres 2 points. The score sat at 25-14.
Another amazing kick return, this time by Nana was (quite questionable) called back, so instead of starting on the Rams 45-yard line, the offence had the mountain of climbing out of their own 10-yard line. After a holding penalty gave the offence some breathing room, Sam wasted no time finding his favourite target, Harrison, for a 40-yard pass completion. But, 2 plays later with UCLan sending pressure, Sam was picked off yet again, making it another scoreless drive for a frustrated Sabres team.
The defence held strong as the game headed into the 4th quarter with another stop thanks to the efforts of Nathan Brereton, with the Rams punting the offence were quickly back on. They soon were quickly back off after Sam took a massive sack which saw the offence lose 15-yards. It did look like the offence was going to recover, with Sam launching the ball, Harrison made a rare mistake as he couldn’t secure the catch.
With the defence back on, the Rams were quick to spot a hole in the Sabres pass coverage. Within two plays they were able to secure another touchdown to bring the score to 32-14. Things would go from bad to worst for the Sabres as another scoreless offensive drive and another touchdown would put the score at 38-14.
This means that due to other results around the league the Sabres would miss out on post-season football. The team was in complete shock as they were one of the top contenders for promotion, all the team can do is now reflect on what went wrong in the second half of the season. For a few, it means that they’ll have one last game in the black and gold and for the Sabres this game will be their last chance to end the season on a high. Next stop, Varsity.