10/11/2013 - Saints hold on to beat Northumbria
Coming off the biggest win in team history, it was reasonable for the Saints to expect another solid performance and to continue on the path to this year’s goal: the North-Eastern Conference title. Standing in their way was a strong Northumbria team who lost to last season’s conference winners Hull by a mere 7-0 scoreline, suggesting that things wouldn’t be easy for Durham this week.
Indeed, it turned out that way, as the game quickly developed into a war of attrition with very few big plays. The Mustangs, using a run-heavy offence, had sporadic success running the ball up the middle and managed to slow the game a lot to counter Durham’s fast-paced offence. Surprisingly, Northumbria took the lead on a pass play, with the receiver leaking out into the flat and grabbing the opening touchdown of the match. The Saints quickly rebounded though, with last week’s game MVP Jeremiah Schwartz rushing through the Mustangs’ field goal unit to block the extra point. Schwartz was again involved in Durham’s opening score of the game, which was a rather unconventional play: he fumbled the hand-off forward, but picked the ball up off the ground unopposed and ran down the sideline for a long touchdown. With a converted extra point, Durham took a 7-6 lead.
The game remained tight throughout, but the Saints extended their lead with a well-worked touchdown drive. Several good runs and nice completions punctuated Durham’s march up the field, with QB Sean Hakes capping the drive off with a touchdown pass to John Perron. Perron, who played at wide receiver and on special teams as well as in his primary position at middle linebacker, made a number of spectacular juggled catches during the game, one of which being the touchdown catch. Northumbria was not out of it though, as they took the ensuing kick-off return to the house for a touchdown. With the score at 14-12, the Mustangs opted to go for a 2-point conversion, but the Saints defence held strong and prevented them tying the game. That was the end of the scoring, and the Saints came out as narrow winners.
The defence deserves special praise for a number of key stops, including forcing a turnover on downs by stopping Northumbria from converting a crucial fourth down inside the red zone. Ultimately, the Saints did enough to come out of this game with a win. Despite it being a below-par performance, all wins count, and it is the mark of a good team to win when you don’t play well, so the Saints can take heart from that. With a pair of bye weeks coming up, the Saints have time to prepare for a huge showdown with Hull in what will likely be a toughly-contested affair on December 8th.
03/11/2013 - Sunderland Smackdown
The hard work of everyone associated with the Saints was rewarded with a season-opening 59-7 domination of the Sunderland Spartans. Recent games between the two teams have always been closely contested, so the Saints were determined to come out and put on a show for the large crowd that had showed up. From the first snap, they did just that.
In all three phases of the game the Saints were dominant, with each unit contributing at least one touchdown. Former Hampton University running-back Jeremiah Schwartz was the star of the day, totalling 3 touchdowns (2 rushing, one punt return) and almost 300 all-purpose yards. On the first offensive play of the season, Schwartz almost managed a 70 yard touchdown run, coming up just short, but on the next play quarterback Sean Hakes threw a short touchdown pass to Matt Perrella. The defense shut down the Spartans’ offense for the vast majority of the game, only allowing a touchdown in the dying minutes on a broken play. Although this spoiled a shutout, the defense can still take great pride in how well it performed. There were great performances from all of the defensive players, especially middle linebacker John Perron, who returned a fumble 50 yards for a touchdown and grabbed a pick late in the game.
The Saints’ offense was equally impressive throughout the day. Perrella grabbed another touchdown catch, Hakes ran one in, Schwartz found the end-zone twice on the ground, and 3rd year receiver Simon Carey brought in two touchdown catches. Carey’s first touchdown was one of the plays of the game, with the Sunderland defense completely buying a play-action, leaving Carey completely free deep downfield, resulting in a 65 yard touchdown. Finally, Durham’s special teams chipped in with a 55 yard punt return touchdown by Schwartz and a few extra points in Durham’s first ever home game with posts. Even with the late Sunderland touchdown, the score was still an incredibly comfortable win for the Saints.
It was a record day for the Saints, as they broke both their single-game points scored and margin of victory records. This was a huge win and a great platform for the rest of the season, but with little improvements here and there, the Saints will be hoping to produce an even better performance next week against Northumbria.
08/06/2013 - Charity tournament "flag"s money for charity
In the end six teams were made, including an alumni team, a team of university lacrosse players, and many friends of club members, all enjoying the weather and what, to some, was a new sport.
In the spirit of fairness, there was no entirely Saints team and in the end, it was the lacrosse players who came out on top. Their athleticism and, as a team of Americans, previous experience, ultimately led to a very strong performance and on the day they only conceeded 4 scores (two of which were scored by our own president Charlie Heard).
Many thanks go to all who participated and helped to organise the event (inc. Team Durham, who allowed free use of their 3G pitch for a good cause). A total of more than £60 was raised towards the Durham Universities Charities Comission (DUCK).
25/02/2013 - "Hull" of an end to the season
Unfortunately, despite best efforts, the final game of the season against Hull was unable to be arranged at a time that suited both teams before Hull headed to their play-off game and was therefore called off.
This left The Saints with a final record of 2-4, an improvement on the previous two seasons, but leaving plenty of room for improvement in the coming season.
Special thanks must go to both the coaching staff and outgoing exec for their efforts tothroughout this season, and the club looks forward to a productive offseason, including a charity flag football tournament in the coming weeks, and then the most extensive pre-season training camp to date. Bring on the 2013/14 season!
24/02/2013 - Season Finale "Leeds" to disappointment and a hospital visit for O-Lineman Gav Jenkins
The final game of the season saw the saints travelling to the Leeds Celtics. The team’s Line injury worries increased pre-game when yet another lineman came down with an injury; Gav Jenks had to be taken in the ambulance to hospital after an awkward collision. However, this vacancy gave the opportunity for less experienced fresher, Tom Howard, to step in to face snaps at both defensive tackle and guard showing great potential.
On a day that was always going to be hard trip for The Saints, they fell behind early on, with Leeds overcoming the very soft playing surface early on to get yardage on short go routes down the touchlines, while Durham’s offence struggled to get rhythm going against a well drilled unit despite a few near misses on big pass plays. The first half continued much in this vain with Leeds scoring through the air and along their ground with their running back’s physical play gaining yards. Even punt-returner, Jamie Halliday’s return to the squad failed to give Durham momentum with the ball, despite a couple of long returns.
During the second half Durham adjusted, switching to a different base formation; splitting the tight end’s out wide to create mismatches with the opposition’s defensive backs. This led to a big gain straight away along the side-line for quarterback Chris Baicco. Durham moved the ball very effectively throughout the third quarter but continued to struggle to punch the ball in at short yardages. After numerous trips to the red zone and big catches from Jack French and Adam Sanderson, Durham finally scored on a dump off pass to Simon Carey before the end of the quarter.
Leeds retaliated with a quick touchdown strike early in the 4th quarter from a big pass over the middle. However, the newly found offensive potency fuelled the defence to make stop after stop. With fresher linebacker Josh Tucker scoring a big safety on a botched punt from Celtics. Durham continued to move the ball but did not recover from the first half deficit as many Saints’ linemen became tired, having to play both ways unlike their counterparts. The final score favoured Leeds but Durham showed the heart and fighting attitude they displayed all season as an undersized undermanned squad refusing to be blown away by big teams. The Saints have a very positive future in front of them as they continue to build their reputation in the new BUCS American Football era.
17/02/2013 - Cougars "Tees" Durham as they wreak their revenge
Last Sunday the Saints headed to the Teeside Cougars in an attempt to repeat their previous success, however, a resilient Teeside were not willing to roll over.
Teeside struck early from their empty five wide formation only to be called back for a holding penalty. The Saints struggled to find success in the power running game they had dominated with on the first encounter only weeks before. Moreover the combination of speed option plays and draws put stress on the Saints defence. Eventually Teeside scored with a big play off a quarterback keeper and this time there was no penalty to help out Durham.
Teeside's offence continued to make plays as they went into half time break with a 2 score lead. Durham then entered the second half with a different attitude. The Saints, opened up all corners of the playbook to crack into the Teeside endzone, even looking to trick plays. Durham looked to the air throughout the second half and eventually Adam Sanderson beat his man for a great grab in the corner of the endzone, followed by a caught two-point conversion courtesy of Simon Carey. However, the game had passed and Teeside finished by solidifying their lead to 22-8. Durham headed home disappointed but hopeful to end the season on a high when they travel to Leeds to face the Celtics.
03/02/2013 - Un"Bear"able tension as Saints overcome Bradford in overtime