Solent Thrashers found their feet from the go against Oxford Saints as they won 29-17 in their season opener at Tilsley Park.
The Thrashers made a positive start with a pass to the end-zone completed by TE James Gibson which was called back for an offensive penalty, successful field goal which led to an Oxford defense penalty which the Thrashers accepted to go 1st and Goal. The Thrashers took the lead on the opening drive, when QB Brad Sawyers handed the ball of the RB Adam Bowley for a rushing 8-yard touchdown with the 2-point attempt falling short.
Thrashers defense held as strong line through the end of the first quarter and into the second with Oxford failing to get the yardage they needed to continue the drive.
The Thrashers extended their lead after DE Jason Oluwa recovered an Oxford Fumble, when on the first drive, QB Brad Sawyers connected with WR Dayle Greenfield for a 13-yard touchdown. The 2-point attempt again, fell agonising short. Thrasher led 12-0.
Shortly afterwards, Oxford made positive ground however were held in the redzone and elected to kick for a field goal making it 12-3. Oxford continue their positivity when after a short punt and a completed 35-yard pass downfield, Oxford’s QB rushed in for a touchdown pass. The 1-point conversion was converted. Thrashers maintained their narrow lead into half-time 12-10
In the third quarter, the Thrashers added a field-goal kicked by Matt Hewlett extending the lead to 15-10. Just as it looked like Oxford were making ground, the Thrashers defensive line and backfield brutally held the Oxford offensive in their tracks which led to Oxford punting the ball away for the Thrashers only to come back and make positive yardage towards the end-zone.
Late in the third quarter, RB Tom Davies ran into the end-zone after fighting off 3 Oxford defense players. Kicker Matt Hewlett converted for the additional point, extending the Thrashers lead to 22-10.
At the start of the fourth quarter, with Oxford desperate for a score of their own, the QB threw a looping pass into the right-hand corner of the endzone which was completed for their second touchdown of the day. Oxford converted the additional point, bringing the close game even closer, 22-17.
Thrashers, despite the pressure from Oxford said focused and late in the fourth quarter their efforts were rewarded. After some great defensive work stopping the strong Oxford offense, the Thrashers own offense pilled on the pressure and eventually were rewarded when RB Adam Bowley ran for an impressive 57-yard touchdown after cutting up the Oxford defense. Kicker Matt Hewlett again confidently converted the extra point bring the score to 29-17.
After the game, Nick Wykes, Oxford’s Defensive Coordinator commented, “It seemed like both teams were, understandably, finding their feet a bit, some really impressive passages of play by both teams, as well as some pretty basic errors. We've a good group of players, a handful of guys new to the team, and while the talent is there we are still trying to find our identity a little bit, in all phases of the game. Thrashers managed to keep us just out of reach after our slow start and both #35 (RB Adam Bowley) and #93 (DE Jack Bradford) had the x-factor on the day that we couldn't quite match. I think if both teams develop as one would expect through the season, if we can get a bit more accomplished in execution, a bit more comfortable with what we are trying to do, then the rematch will be a very high-quality affair. Definitely got it circled on the calendar as a game that will be fun to coach.”
Steve Rains, Head Coach at the Thrashers added, “As we expected this was a tough game in what I am sure will be a very competitive Division again this year. We are knocking off the pre-season rust and I'm sure it’s the same for the Saints. I can't see any "easy" games in our schedule and of course that is the way it should be, but we are very pleased to have a 1-0 start this year.”
Solent Thrashers MVP’s sponsored by Oasis Bar, Southampton are;
Offense: Adam Bowley
Defense: Ali Hugo
Special Teams: Matt Hewlett
Honorary mention to the Player of the Week Captain, Michael Wing.
The Solent Thrashers return to action on Sunday 13th May 2018, with their first home game of the season against newly promoted Bristol Apache.
Special thanks to our travel partner, Pegasus Coaches.