Peterborough Saxons @ Bedfordshire Blue Raiders
A reasonably sunny but ultimately dry April morning saw the Peterborough Saxons travel to their closest away game with a short 30 mile drive to the Bedfordshire Blue Raiders in the opening game of the 2012 BAFANL season. Morale and expectations were high going into this fixture after two impressive preseason scrimmages against Coventry Jets and a shutout over the Kent Exiles.
BBR won the toss and chose to receive the kick off. On the first play from scrimmage rookie DE Jamie Williamson blew up the opposing Left Tackle putting him squarely on the floor, an impressive entrance and a signs of things to come. The drive failed to gain momentum and BBR were forced to punt, subsequently the punt was muffed by the Saxons returner and in the ensuing scramble BBR recovered giving them excellent field position 7 yards from the end zone. BBR managed to grind the ball over for the opening score of the season leaving the Saxons sideline stunned. Score 0-6
The Saxons offense took to the field and with a score required struggled to find momentum with only 1 recorded completion of 25 yards to TE – Jason Bradshaw. Rapidly the game turned into a defensive battle with both sides keeping the opposing offenses from making any huge gains, unfortunately starting QB Isaac Adimora suffered a dislocated kneecap after a fumbled snap and the thoughts of everyone are with him and hoping for no long term damage, the 1st quarter ending 0-6 to BBR.
Moving into the second quarter the injury caused a huge momentum shift in the Saxons ranks with the game going to be won for their fallen QB, this turnaround started when CB/PR Darius Williams fielded a punt around the midfield mark. Showing superb patience and excellent blocking from the other players saw him weave his way into the end zone to tie up the scores and left the game at half time all square. Score 6-6
The rest of the 2nd quarter was mostly about the offenses trying to find their feet especially with the Saxons O having their backup QB in, yet it was the BBR Offence that turned it over through an interception. An attempted field goal from around the 30yard line by the Saxons was blocked.
With a half time to work out the plan for the second half the Saxons offense game out running the ball hard making strong gains up the field while the passing game struggled to get moving through a very blitz heavy BBR defence. Again it was both defences that set the tone with the Saxons having 9 tackles for loss throughout the game along with 4 sacks; another huge factor in the Saxons turnaround was also the 3 forced fumbles giving the offense a change to move the ball forward.
The 3rd quarter was still a tight affair with a poor kick off leading to great field position for the Saxons, unfortunately they were unable to capitalise but an unnecessary roughness call helped move the ball closer to the end zone. With BBZ pinned back in their 20 they failed to move the ball and a scuffed punt kept the Saxons on the front foot with another chance to mount a meaningful drive. Entering the 4th quarter saw the pre-season form come to the front for the Saxons.
Moving into the 4th quarter the game was still on the line and you could feel it was only one play or mistake and the scores would be level, the Saxons offense had improved throughout the day leading to 176 yards rushing but it was the defence stepping up again to provide the points with the defence managing to cause a huge turnover on an interception by Defensive MVP Wayne Gumbs who took the ball back to the goal line where the offense managed to punch it in to the anguish of the Raiders. Score 12-6
Later in the quarter Wayne Gumbs got his third interception of the day. With amazing blocking from the Saxons defence, he managed to take it down the Saxons sideline for the score - putting the game out of reach. Score 18-6
With BBR trying to move the ball downfield there were more mistakes and miscues with the defence happily stopped them with a combination of a forced fumbles and interception to run down the clock leaving the Saxons with the W.
Overall the victory is what the Saxons were after and made things harder for themselves which can be encompassed as first game nerves and preseason complacency coming into the season. Yet an ugly win is still a win and the Saxons move to 1-0, with plenty to build on before the next game
Defence MVP: Wayne Gumbs
Offence MVP: Derrick Hylton
Rookie of Game: Jamie Williamson
Match report written by Phill Deakin for Saxons Media