Despite rain of Biblical proportions in the East Midlands over the previous days, the gridiron of the ‘New Cage’, on Loughborough’s Holywell pitches, looked as good as ever (thanks to the grounds men) for The Students’ latest challenge; The University of Nottingham Outlaws. The game was set to be Team 25’s toughest test so far this season, facing a fresh Nottingham team that had had three weeks to plan for the game. Loughborough were looking to keep their perfect record after a 49-0 win two weeks ago against Leicester.

Loughborough kicked off to Nottingham to start the match, and the defence took the field. Team 25’s defence was looking to force their third straight shutout of the season, and they got off to a great start, stopping the Outlaws offense in three plays and forcing a punt. The offense got started with some good running from Andy Mayall (No.23) and Ben Burslem (No.1) but stalled deep inside the Nottingham half. Alex “The Leg” Lenkowski (No.17) kicked a field goal to put the first points on the board; 3-0 Students. The score stayed this way for the whole quarter, with both teams’ offenses struggling on their drives. Midway through the first quarter, John Kenyon (No.42) picked off a pass from the Outlaws quarterback; however, on the first play from scrimmage, the offense fumbled and the ball was recovered by Nottingham, giving them great field position inside the Loughborough half. The Team 25 defence had the offense’s back though, not allowing the Outlaws offense any room to move, and ended the drive with a big hit from safety Chris Horsthuis (No.20).

The Loughborough offense still couldn’t crack the end zone and had to punt back to the Outlaws at the start of the second quarter, but soon got the ball back when the swarming Students D forced a fumble and recovered it in Nottingham territory. This was the spark the offense needed to get a touchdown, as they drove with purpose down the field, leading to Ben Burslem taking a sweep seven yards in for a score. The extra point made it 10-0 Loughborough. On the ensuing Outlaws drive, the Team 25 defence forced another turnover, this time an interception by Matt Eva (No.43). The offense capitalised with another Lenkowski field goal, making the score 13-0 Loughborough at the half.

The Loughborough defence kept on the pressure in the third quarter, with stellar play on the defensive line by Josh Gaff (No.79) and airtight coverage from cornerback Joe Parsons (No.24). The momentum continued on offense also, with the team driving methodically down the field, and quarterback James Slack (No.6) adding an exclamation point to the series with an untouched run into the end zone from a few yards out. The extra point made it 20-0 Students. On Nottingham’s next drive, they gained success on a long pass down the right sideline, but the defence responded the only way they know how to; with a turnover, another interception by John Kenyon.

Team 25’s offence smelled blood in the water as the ball game entered the fourth quarter. The offensive line found another gear, creating running lanes for the Loughborough backs, and a clear pocket for the quarterback to throw from. Their reward was another short yardage touchdown; driving the Outlaws defenders into their own end zone, allowing James Slack to walk in for the score. The point after made it 27-0 Loughborough. With second-string players beginning to enter the game, the defence was still as focused as ever on keeping a shutout, and The Student’s defensive backs certainly did their part for the day. Chris Horsthuis added a fourth interception for the team on the day, returning the ball deep into Nottingham territory (flattening a helpless tackler with a stiff-arm on the way).

The red hot offense again made the most of the turnover, and a strong run up the middle by Diekola Lanre-Ojo (No.25) found the end zone, making the score 34-0 Loughborough. There was enough time in the final quarter for another Students’ touchdown, this time from rookie Sam Bailey (No.36), who ran the ball in for the last touchdown of the game. Not to be overshadowed, the defensive rookies wanted to get in on the playmaking action as well, and Sam Fryer did so; recovering a fumble to end the match. This made the final score 41-0 to Loughborough.

Overall the game was another success for The Students. After a slow start, the offense managed to put up points, even when facing the most well drilled defence they had met this season. The defence also did their part again, forcing 6 turnovers and keeping their third straight clean sheet. With still much to work on both sides of the ball, Team 25 head back to training this week looking to build on Sunday’s game, and look ahead to their next game; a meeting for the first time with The University of Northampton Nemesis.


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