Loughborough’s first home game of the season saw them fight bravely against the University of Stirling but ultimately they weren’t able to stop the Clansmen, who’s big plays got them the points they needed on the board. Stirling took a win 26-7, and currently sit top of the league.
As an ominous grey sky hung above the field it gave a poignant setting to the minute silence held in Remembrance before kick-off and hung over the entire game with the empty threat of downpour. The Clansmen’s offence took to the field strong and despite an early Loughborough turnover they managed to regain the ball. Overcoming a 10-yard penalty, they took an early run into the endzone, and with a kick for PAT they took the lead, 7-0. Despite no room for a slow retaliation, Loughborough struggled to push back the Stirling defence. In spite of a solid catch by #85 Alastair Shale, incomplete passes and lack of speed was costing them yards. With that realisation they finally found their feet and with a 25yard gain taking them into the end zone, it gave #84 Jordan Mathews the motivation he needed to run the ball over the line and put Loughborough back in the game. With the extra point they equalised 7-7.
Stirling were quick to move the game back down the field but two incidences of foul play cost them 20 yards. Loughborough’s defence did well to push back and cause incomplete passes. The Clansmen’s rough play caused some injuries that stopped the clock and forced substitutions, (including starting QB #6 Aaron Butler). This all took its toll on the home team and they struggled to keep rhythm. It didn’t take the Clansmen long to profit from the bruised Loughborough side and scored their second touchdown. With another successful PAT they took to the lead once again, the score now 14-7.
LSAFC’s offence returned to the field with intent but the Stirling opposition forced them to punt the ball on fourth down. Loughborough kept up their game and managed to interrupt plays avoiding any more Stirling touchdowns in the first half. Fortunately for the home side a Stirling attempt at a field goal was fruitless as the half time whistle blew, the score remained 14-7.
With a ‘new half – new game’ mentality taken by Loughborough, the home side in purple were adamant to regain control of the game. This was nearly put to an early stop with a Stirling field goal that fortunately went yards wide of the left post. Still, the Clansmen were undeterred and in their next offensive play, despite the efforts of LSAFC’s #25 Ben Hoban and #42 Dean ‘Dean-fence’ Carless, they found the endzone again. Missing the PAT, taking the score to 20-7.
Loughborough made plenty of yards in the following drive but a Stirling turnover by their #25 stopped them just shy of the end zone. By the end of the third quarter both teams had lost some enthusiasm shown by sloppy passes and slow cuts. An unseen block in the back to #67 Sean Galloway caused uproar in the Loughborough ranks, but as soon as he was able to walk off the pitch, Stirling retorted with another touchdown. They were penalised for intentional grounding when attempting to go for two, but with the six points earned they stepped further ahead, 26-7.
With six minutes to go in the last quarter, the reaming game saw a depleted Loughborough side who still courageously continued to fight against the more physical Scotsmen. Alex Challands performed exceptionally, stepping up to the plate and taking the reigns of the offence. However, the Loughborough side were still defending forcefully when the final whistle blew.
Fortunately the weather held out, but unfortunately Loughborough’s luck hadn’t and at fulltime, Stirling had maintained their lead. Despite the final score implying otherwise, it isn’t illustrative as to how the game truly played out as head coach Paul Sherratt commented:
“I think we struggled once our starting quarterback went down. I mean our back-up did a good job but obviously we weren’t preparing for that. We’ve got a few guys injured so it’d be good to get some of those guys back.
“But, I mean they’re a good team, I don’t think the score line perhaps reflected the game, I think it was a lot closer than that, there were a few big plays that went their way that made the difference. So we’ve just got to concentrate now on next week, getting ready for Derby. Getting our guys healthy, and getting ready for them – because they’re a lot better this year than they have been previously.”
Follow LSAFC on Twitter for their next outing on Sunday 15th November where they play the Derby University Braves at 13:00 in Derby.
Image Credit: Drew Smith