Like Old Friends
The game commenced with the Knight’s offense rattling off 4 runs in a row, handing the ball to power runner Darren Montgomery. Physical Rebels defence and an incomplete pass concluded the Knights initial drive with a punt, allowing the Rebel’s offence to take possession at their own 15. Three consecutive incompletes, two tipped at the line, brought out Rebel punter and veteran receiver, Paul Grogan, returning for his first play since last year’s championship game.
Flags for both the visiting offence and home defence as well as quick penetration from a stout Rebel defensive line called the Knight’s punter on for the second time in 2 drives, both teams struggles for yardage in the first three possessions would foreshadow a theme for the rest of the contest.
An un-fielded punt would call dynamic dual-threat QB Jack Fagan to take the field for the first time today, joined in the backfield by Wellington Omorodion who would make his presence felt with a 7-yard gain on 1st down. Fagan soon showed just how dangerous he is, a QB option providing him with the space for a 13-yard rush.
While an obvious progression from the drives seen earlier in the game, the away defence stood tall and forced yet another punt in the opening quarter.
A three and out following a WR sweep being called back forced the Knights into 4th down. Misjudged timing by the home team, on a block attempt, lead to an offside call on the punt, giving the Knights another attempt to ignite any semblance of an offense. Eventually, a seam was found, ending the 1st quarter on the visitors’ first big-gain play of the afternoon and leading us into the second period.
If It Ain’t Broke…
With new running back Alastair Nixon in, the Knights offence began to move the ball on the ground, going run heavy they held no secrets in what they wanted to accomplish, putting together 5 running plays in a row to gain yardage.
The Rebels Defence bent slightly, but thanks to big stops from Raphael Meyer, and Matthias Durot, they refused to break, only giving up a Marty Caskey field goal to hold the visitors to 3 points, taking the game’s first lead.
Veteran quarter back Andy Dennehy provided a steady hand for the Rebel’s offense, marching the ball down the field through the big boys up front and star running back Pete McMahon, rightly capping it off with a touchdown. The point after attempt failed to be converted.
With Spencer McDowell now in at QB for the Knights, their devotion to the ground and pound style was stronger than ever, designed quarterback runs and powerful inside handoffs were mainstays of a now behind Knight’s team.
The Rebels defence matched fire with fire and stuffed multiple attempts from the Knights, giving the ball back to the offence through a 4th down punt. Despite attempts to get the ball deep and in a scoring position, there was insufficient time left on the clock to add anything for the Rebels, as they breached the Knights Red-zone. 6-3 Rebels at the half.
A Fight to the End!
Receiving the ball to begin the second half, the combination of Fagan, McMahon and Omorodion proved difficult for the Knights to handle, seemingly dancing through tackles to manoeuvre downfield. A taxing drive which included only one pass, which fell incomplete, the rebels made their way to inside the five-yard line. An aggressive and blitzing defence held firm and forced a turnover on downs, Rebels coming out with no points on their most promising drive of the game.
Backed against their own Endzone, the Knights strung a few plays together before sending a deep punt into Rebel territory. Good punt coverage forced the offence onto the field with very little room to work with. Forceful play by the Dublin O-line, ensured enough space to allow for a first down to close out the quarter and give the home team some breathing room. As seemed to be common between both teams the Knights forced a punt to give them their best field position of the day and a chance to score in the final quarter. Going with power running throughout the entire drive using every big body available to them the Knights ran in for a touchdown from McDowell, their first and only of the day. The ensuing field goal attempt was blocked by Linebacker Robert Smith bursting through the line.
With time running low and the majority of the field to cover, a new life seemed to fuel the offense, with big plays coming from both the running and passing games, culminating in a touchdown thrown to Jonas D’Agostin to put the Rebels ahead by 3.
The Rebels Defence lead by the ever disruptive bookends of Simon Mackey and Steve Walsh decided that’s where the game ends, and the game was iced thanks to an interception by the always ball-hawking Andrei-Vlad Vasilescu, taking Defensive MVP honors on the day, to ensure a Rebel victory.
The final score in Sportslink, Dublin Rebels 12-9 Belfast Knights.
By Calum Walsh