At a bitterly cold Harvey Hadden Sports Complex, two unanswered touchdowns in the first quarter sealed a 21-4 victory for the Nottingham Trent Renegades over the Nottingham University Outlaws, tying the varsity series up at 2-2. As covered by Impact’s Thomas Mellor, the Outlaws found themselves in better form heading into the grudge match but the Renegades walked away deserved winners, having made better use of their possession.
In the first quarter, the Renegades dominated; their first drive ended in the first touchdown of the game, great play resulting in a 1st and Goal which was duly capitalised upon. The early 7-0 lead had caught the Outlaws cold and the situation was about to get worse. An Outlaws 4th Down kick was charged down, leaving the Renegades 1yrd from the Outlaws End Zone. 7-0 quickly became 14-0 as the resulting play found a Renegades player in the End Zone and the kick converted.
In recent years, fixtures between the two sides have been relatively low-scoring affairs and so the two early touchdowns had left the Outlaws winded and with a mountain to climb. Because the Outlaws were struggling to complete plays and gifting the Nottingham Trent Renegades good field positions, the first quarter ended with the Renegades in the ascendency and the Outlaws yet to impose themselves on the game.
The second quarter started with increased promise for the Outlaws; however, sustained possession in the Renegades half resulted in little gain. The third Renegades touchdown was typical of the Outlaws night. A fumbled Outlaws pass gifted the Renegades 1st Down on their own 40yrd line. The quarter back’s faded pass was caught by Renegades wide receiver Eric Moats on the right sideline who ran the remaining 30yrds to the End Zone. Having played Division 1 for Utah State, Moats’ dominant handling was evident throughout the game. After starting the second quarter brightly, the 21-0 score line was harsh on the Outlaws.
Regardless, the Outlaws spirit rallied, and with an excellent drive found themselves 1st and Goal. The Renegades had scored from a similar position the previous quarter; however, despite appearing to be on the Renegades goal line for an eternity, the Trent defense held firm to recover possession thanks to some big tackles. A case of ‘oh so close yet so far’. With the Renegades bogged down on their goal line, the next play rewarded the Outlaws for their efforts; as the teams went into half times, a Renegades player tackled in his own End Zone put Nottingham University on the score board with a safety at 21-2.
The Outlaws retaliation continued into the third quarter. With the offense starting to complete more plays, pressure led to the first Renegades error of the game. A horrific Renegades snap on their 20yrd line flew over the quarter back’s head. Scrambling back and pursued by Outlaws players, the Renegades quarter back was bundled in his own End Zone for the Outlaws second safety of the game. 21-4.
21-4 should have become 21-11 shortly after. Outlaws wide receiver Ben Collis received the ball on the left sideline and had a clear run to the End Zone. After sprinting 25yrds, he was tackled over the goal line and dropped the ball. To the Uni supporters’ despair, the touchdown wasn’t given. Missed opportunities such as this cost the Outlaws in the end.In the 4th quarter, both sides became sloppy. Dropped catches aplenty, the cold was obviously having its way with the handling; tiredness combined with Trent realising that they need only close out the game.
Outlaws quarter back Henri Dinger, forced off through injury in the third quarter, shared his thoughts on the game afterwards: “We didn’t punch it in. Not getting in the End Zone was getting annoying and we had too many mistakes that came back to bite us. The blocked punt was annoying because it put them on our 1yrd at 7-0.”
Dinger’s reflections are true, as the blocked punt allowed the Renegades to take a commanding lead early in the game. In the end, incomplete passes and mistakes prevented the Outlaws from making the final result a much tighter affair. Still, Nottingham University can be proud of their showing. After the early blitz of Renegades touchdowns, the defence cemented itself with big tackles, drawing loud cheers from the crowd. The result may have flattered Trent but their superior offensive play meant they were deserving of their victory.
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