Lancaster Bombers 6
Manchester Tyrants 0
An unforgiving defense helped the Lancaster Bombers American Football Team defeat the Manchester Tyrants 6-0 and earn their first away victory of the year.
The Bombers gave almost nothing to Manchester, picking apart the shaky Tyrants offense on every drive. The defense has seen an almost complete makeover since last year with only four players returning, including captain Tim Barton who was defensive MVP of the day with two interceptions, one sack and multiple tackles.
However, he was not alone in intercepting the new Tyrants Quarterback, linebacker George Bedford, rookie defensive backs Ben Sarvesvaren (Rookie of the Game) and Ben Hammick also got picks.
The Tyrants offense ran a mixture of four and five wide receiver sets, a formation the Bombers had never seen before or practised against.
Teams in this league usually run the ball, but the Tyrants passed it more, the defensive line and linebackers stepped up and put pressure on the quarterback on every play, and the defensive backs did a fine job of picking off and deflecting passes all over the field. The Bombers’ rookie players were very impressive throughout the match.
The first drive was a good indication of how the rest of the game would follow. The Tyrants chose to receive the ball after they won the coin toss, but were quickly forced to punt after a ruinous sack by rookie linebacker Matthew Hartley on 3rd down left the Tyrants 4th and very long. The Tyrants struggled to gain yards on any of their drives; their greatest successes came from broken plays with their athletic quarterback gaining yards on his feet after a missed tackle. However, the Bombers’ defense were relentless and unforgiving, allowing few first downs and consistently forcing the Tyrants to either turn over the ball or punt.
On special teams, one play of note would be George Bedford’s punt return for 35 yards. He took advantage of the Tyrants’ inexperience, faking a kneel down before sprinting off to drive the ball deep into Tyrant territory, until he was pushed out of bounds around the 20 yard line.
At this point, the Bombers’ offense capitalised on their great field position to put the ball in the endzone. After four plays, the Danish running back Didrik Finnoy took the ball in for six. Although Finnoy and fullback James Lago were both away on foreign exchange last year, watching them play, you would never know it. They make for a formidable combination of speed and brute strength as Lago served out devastating blocks allowing Finnoy to dart between would-be tacklers. Together they gained just under 70 yards on carries throughout the day. The running game has always been a key part of the Bombers offense and this year looks as if it will be no different. Power and size along the offensive line will create lanes for the running backs that can only get better as players develop into their positions. Passing highlights of the day included a 3rd and long pass interference call on a Tyrants Defensive Back for making illegal contact on the receiver Matty Plant as he lined up to catch a deep bomb.
Even though the Bombers held the lead for the entire game, late in the game it was close. “The most important drive of the game for the offense came during the final possession in the final quarter. With a combination of running and pass plays we were able to maintain possession and run out the clock to ensure our first win.” said Quarterback and Offensive Captain Jim O’Brien.
Next Sunday, the Bombers play long time rivals the Sheffield Sabres, who lost their first game of the year to Leeds Celtics. Sheffield are one of the older teams in the British Universities American Football League and have been playing the Bombers for years; in 1991 Sheffield got their first ever win against the old Bombers team. Last year the Bombers went 6-2, allowing them to proceed to the playoffs while the Sabres (5-3) fell just short. The Sabres will be looking for revenge and their first win of the season. A perennial playoff contender with quality coaching staff, the Sabres will not fall easily, but the Bombers look to be 2-0 before their first home game vs. Leeds Celtics on 21st November.