Nottingham Trent University have brought the 2012 Varsity Series back to 2-2 after its Renegades American Football team stormed to a comprehensive 21-4 victory over the University of Nottingham’s Outlaws.
Re-arranged after the original game was postponed due to snow in early February, the American Football game drew a large crowd to the Harvey Hadden Stadium on a cold Friday evening. Having won the previous two Varsity meetings between the sides, the Renegades headed into the tie as favourites and stamped their authority early on.
Renegades scored the game’s opening touchdown with their first drive, running back Danny Miller bundling the ball over from three yards after quarterback Adam Grant had thrown a superb 40 yard pass earlier in the drive to get them on the edge of the endzone.
The quick start meant the Outlaws were already 7-0 down by the time their offense got their first chance to drive. Struggling against a strong Renegades defence, the Outlaws first couple of attempts were easily knocked back and when the Renegades charged down one of their punts on the edge of the Outlaws endzone, the Renegades were given a clear opportunity to double their advantage.
The Renegades took the chance straight away, with the team’s American star Miller once again rushing the ball over the line for his second touchdown of the evening, which was followed up by a successful kick to make it 14-0 to the Renegades.
Heading into the second quarter, the Outlaws looked to try and get in the game and get some points on the board. The team put together some good, patient drives, slowly moving up the field towards the Renegades endzone, however every time they got into promising positions, their offense faltered and the Renegades were able to regain possession.
An Outlaws fumble halfway through the second quarter was punished by the Renegades offense when a great throw by Miller was caught by wide receiver Eric Moats, who sprinted the final 15 yards home to score the Renegades third touchdown, which was successfully converted to make it 21-0. The Outlaws did finally get on the scoreboard late in the second quarter, earning two points from a safety, but the Renegades still held a strong 21-2 lead at half time.
After such a high scoring first half, it was almost inevitable that the second half would start slowly, with both teams unable to make much progress with their drives, the possession ending up switching between the two on multiple occasions with no real end result for either side.
The Outlaws were the first to taste success in the second half after a mistake by the Renegades saw a snap fly way over the head of their punter and into the endzone, gifting two points to the Outlaws for the safety.
Still 17 points behind, the Outlaws knew they needed a touchdown soon to have any chance of getting back into the game and they thought they had one in the third quarter when they crossed the line, however the referees brought it back for a penalty and the opportunity was lost.
The Outlaws had one more great opportunity for a touchdown in the final quarter, when poor discipline by the Renegades defence saw them give away two penalties in one drive, moving the Outlaws to within ten yards of their endzone. The Outlaws were unable to capitalise though and a massive interception by the Renegades’ Adam Clarke lifted the pressure from the side. The team then closed the game out to seal a superb 21-4 win, making it three Varsity wins out of three for the Renegades to the delight of the supporting Trent Army.
As well as being the all-important Varsity game, the tie had added significance as it was a key fixture in the British Universities American Football League (BUAFL), with both teams looking to claim a play-off place. The Renegades win means they are now right in contention to snatch the place instead of the Outlaws and progress to the post-season for the third consecutive season.
Commenting after the game, the Renegades President Chris O’Dea said: “I’m feeling a little bit sore, a little bit tired and I’m looking forward to a beer tonight. We really appreciated the support tonight; the Trent fans made it a really good atmosphere. It’s always good to beat the Outlaws.”
Double touchdown hero Danny Miller commented: “It’s not one person scoring a touchdown, it’s every single person on that field and I’m very proud of all my team-mates. Today was important for both Varsity and the play offs, but it was also for those people who are leaving this year, who are so important to the team.
“It feels like I’m back home in the states playing in front of a big crowd, you almost forget about it when you’re out playing on the field, but when they start cheering, that feeling comes right back and it feels pretty good.”
More information on the NTU Renegades can be found here: www.nturenegades.com, whilst more information on the upcoming Varsity matches can be found here: www.trentstudents.co.uk/varsity