With the Saints and the Wolverines coming off a loss in round one, both clubs were keen to make amends in their matchup up at Forrest Park.
Wolverines, with the kick-off, initiated an onside kick quickly identified and recovered by Zachary Austin allowing amazing field position for Quarterback Scott Collins to start from. With a stalled offence the previous week, Collins came out firing finding Miles Davy deep on a flag route for a 33-yard touchdown on just the third play of the game. The ensuing point after was no good. One minute, one touchdown. 6-0 Saints.
Averaging 45 yards per kick in round one, Chris Clarkson began the Saints first kick-off with another solid 45 yards and a lucky bounce to find the end-zone. Failing to score the previous week, the Wolverines stuttered out of the blocks as Linebacker Inoke Ngalo brought his Hawaiian charm to Australia, making a sack in the Wolverines endzone for a safety.
Quarter two started out slow for both sides. Collins mixed it up relying on Running Backs Michael Blackburn and Doug Stewart to move the chains. Frustrated with a lack of completions, Collins eyed off his receiver only to get picked off by the Wolverines defence for a touchdown. A well-read play by the first year senior. Still struggling, the Wolverines were not able to convert. With an opportunity to grab some points before the half, Collins again pushed the chains by air but three incomplete passes in a row, with the third incompletion on a fourth and long at the Wolverines 20-yard line, the Wolverines were afforded a break. Not to be outdone, the Saints defence, in the absence of fallen leader Travis Offord produced a valuable pass defence by Cameron Groenheide and a Quarterback pressure by AJ Wright on the next two plays forcing an interception to the big unit Rhys Nairn. Stringing two successful passes together, Collins found Gareth Weinbrecht at the 1-yard line making him to fight for the precious yard. Touchdown, no conversion. The Saints end the half up 14-6.
The second half opened with a defensive stop by the Saints allowing Collins to yet again, drive the ball from a solid field position. A rush for loss, incompletion and a pass for 4 yards put the Saints in fourth and long. With the Saints at the 50, Collins went with the hurry up fortunately hitting Clarkson on an open route for a touchdown of what would be the final points for Saints for the afternoon. The third quarter ended in undisciplined Saints play with a delay of game penalty forcing a punt to be taken back on the 4-yard line. Confusion followed as a sloppy formation allowed the Wolverines to block the punt resulting in a Safety.
The final quarter was a tug of war for possession as the Saints fought to maintain control, however the Wolverines were able to build a run game ending in a touchdown. A successful conversion placed the Wolverines closer to glory. With only a few minutes remaining, the Wolverines referred back to their onside kick only for it to fly further than expected in to the hands of Blackburn. Outstanding with the catch but lacking awareness of the situation, Blackburn elected to run the ball back instead of taking a knee, only to get pummelled back in to the dirt. Possession switched twice more with the Wolverines unable to generate any more scoring opportunities.
The absence of Luke Hegney was obvious as Collins produced a 40% completion rate. Drops by receivers have been haunting through the first two games so the efficiency of the offence is not entirely on the Quarterback. Hats off to the Wolverines for providing a great run-defence only allowing the Saints an average of 2.4 yards per carry.
The Westside Steelers are up next bringing with them a mix of unknown and excitement as the Saints look to build on the win.
FINAL SCORE: Saints 20 v 16 Wolverines
Defensive MVP – Inoke Ngalo – 5 solo tackles, 1 sack, 2 forced fumbles and 1 fumble recovery
Most Saintly Performance – AJ Wright – Wright Of Passage
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A pass rushing machine, Wright tallied 4 tackles, 2.5 sacks and multiple Quarterback pressures including a hit that forced an interception. It is a Quarterback’s “Wright of Passage” to take at least one AJ sack during a game.
Play Of The Day – Michael Blackburn
Down by 4 points and with minimal time left on the clock, the Wolverines sent an onside kick 20 yards straight in to the waiting arms of Blackburn, pancaking him on the return. Blackburn amazingly held possession allowing the Saints to run down the clock for the win.