The Hertfordshire Cheetahs Senior Squad finally opened up their 2016 campaign on Sunday 1st May against the Solent Thrashers in Southampton. After a long preseason, with many changes both on the field and off it, spirits were high but they were quickly dashed after the team ended up on the wrong side of a 43-6 score line.
Solent received the kick-off and quickly marched down the field for the opening score of the game. A six-play drive was capped when QB #15 found his receiver in the corner of the end zone for a 10yard score (XP good). The Cheetahs offence took to the field for their first drive of the season, but were unable to make any yards and were forced to punt the ball back to the Thrashers. On the second play of the drive the Thrashers QB forced a pass to the sideline, but OLB Adam Morris was unable to pick off the football, which looped up into the grateful Solent receivers hands who scampered for a 15 yard gain deep into Cheetahs territory. Six plays later the Thrashers added to the scoreline again when the QB found #3 open in the corner of the end zone who made a spectacular diving catch. The extra point was again added, meaning the score was 14-0.
The Cheetahs offence came out on their second drive of the game determined to put some points on the board and it took just three plays. Rookie RB Adam Adeniji took the handoff and ran through a would be tackler before out pacing the rest of the Solent defence for a 49 yard score. The extra point was blocked but the Cheetahs had their first points of the season on the board. It looked to have fired the defence up as they forced an incomplete pass on third down, but a dubious roughing the passer penalty kept the drive alive and the Thrashers capitalised with another passing touchdown (XP good) to give them a 21-6 lead. As the quarter wound down QB Jason Scurfield, trying to make something happen for the offense, threw an errant pass into the arms of the Solent safety, but Solent were unable to capitalise and punted the ball back to the Cheetahs.
The second quarter started as the first had ended, with both being forced to punt after consecutive three and outs. Good running from Adam Adeniji on the Cheetahs next drive, pushed them into opponents territory, but on fourth down, Jason Scurfield threw the ball up to his receiver, only to have the Thrashers safety leap over WR Matt Day for Solent’s second interception of the day. The momentum was now well and truly with the Thrashers who completed a 15 play drive when the QB snuck through the heart of the Cheetahs defence for a 10 yard score (XP good).
Another 3-and-out by the Cheetahs Offence gave the Thrashers the opportunity to add to the scoreboard. The Cheetah defence would not let that happen however as OLB Jason Wells tipped and picked off the QB’s pass on the two yard line. The Thrashers defence were rampant and refused to let the momentum swing in the Cheetahs favour. On the very first play after the interception, RB Jake Ingles was unable to get out of the end zone and the Thrashers swarming defence tackled him for a safety to add another two points to the score which gave them a commanding 30-6 half time lead.
Unfortunately for the Cheetahs the second half continued in much the same way as the first. An errant snap on fourth down of the first drive of the second half meant QB Jason Scurfield was forced to take a sack and give the ball back to Solent with prime field position. Two plays later the QB #15 found space to the left side of the Cheetahs defence and ran 53 yards for the score. The kick was again good meaning the Thrashers had extended to lead to 37-6. The Cheetahs refused to lie down, RB Adam Adeniji carrying the load for the Cheetah Offence had a long 55 yard run before being tackled at the 5 yard line. A costly 15 yard penalty and a couple of runs for losses mean the offence were out of field goal range and were forced to try for the end zone, Unfortunately Scurfield threw his fourth interception of the day and the Cheetahs came away from the drive without a score.
The Thrashers again put the Cheetahs to the sword. A long 60 yard pass play set put the Thrashers 20 yards out from the Cheetahs end zone and just a couple of plays later the Solent QB rolled right and threw across his body to a wide open receiver in the middle of the end zone. The extra point was not added, leaving the score at 43-6. Neither team added to the score in the fourth quarter as players from both sides were rotated.
We would like to thank Old Stable for sponsoring our medical cover for the 2016 season.
The Hertfordshire side’s tough start to the season continues when they face the Bury Saints on the 8th May, a promoted side from Division 2 last year, who have already beaten the Solent Thrashers in 2016.