MUGC News Edition Two - May 14 2014
In this edition... Words by Alex Gossage, Donal Stott and Jack Roberts
Royals Game Review Lions Game Review Word from the Coach Most Valuable Players Around the League Round Three Preview Editorial
Photography by Barend Van Den Hoek Barend volunteers his time to taking great photos of Gridiron Victoria games. You can find his work at www.barendphotos.com Design by Liv Rog
MUGC Trivia Night Friday 23 May 2014 7—10.30pm Brens Pavillion, MacArthur Road, Parkville
It’s that time again—we’re asking YOU to put on your thinking caps and join teammates and friends at the annual Melbourne University Gridiron Club Trivia Night. Drinks and nibbles available on the night.
For tickets, visit https://www.stickytickets.com.au/17222/mugc_trivia_night_2014.aspx
MUGC Royals v Bendigo Dragons The Royals travelled to Reservoir to face the Bendigo Dragons on a rainy Saturday morning. Feeling confident they could get their first win for the season they received the opening kick-off and wanted to put up points early. Instead it was the Dragons that got off the mark first. After forcing the Royals to a 3 and out on their opening drive their offence got the ball deep in their half after a long punt by Aliou Ba. A long run by #27 put the Dragons in Royals territory before strong blocking on successive runs got the first score on the board. The two point conversion was successful. Dragons lead early, 8-0. The Royals offence came back on the field hoping for an immediate response, and they almost got it when a deep pass to the middle of the field was just over thrown. Strong running by QB Jon Chin and WR Harrison Delai moved the chains for the Royals and set up the deep pass, which was reeled in for a big gain by WR Aliou Ba. The Royals set up in the red zone and gave the ball to running back Jamie Spiteri who battled his way into the end zone for his second touchdown of the season. The extra point was blocked; Dragons still lead 8-6. A long kick return gave the Dragons great field position for their second drive of the game. The Dragons offence did not get the big plays that gave them success in their opening drive until a pass to an open receiver on the edge was enough to get them into the end zone again. The successful two point increases the lead to 16-6. A quick three and out and short punt gave the Royals defence a short field to defend. Having made the necessary adjustments the Dragons were held to no gain until a pass interference penalty put the ball on the two yard line. A tackle for loss by defensive end Daniel Griffin pushed the Dragons back and facing pressure on the next play from linebacker Alex Gossage the Dragons QB lobbed it up making it easy for cornerback Jonny Russian to get the interception. Consistent gains on each play had the Royals offence marching down the field. It looked like the Royals were certain to score after Harrison Delai put the ball within 10 yards however the Dragons defence held strong. Delai looked to
have scored the Royals second touchdown but was forced out a yard shy on fourth down. Half time, Dragons 16-6 Royals. The second half proved to be a defensive struggle. The first Dragons drive was stopped short after a fumble that was recovered by the Royals however the Dragons defence forced a quick 3 and out in reply. The Royals punter was forced to run the ball but failed to make the first down giving the Dragons a short field. They could not capitalise, with Jonny Russian getting his second interception of the game. Another short drive ended in the punter being forced to run again, giving the Dragons a short field. But a forced fumble, recovered by the Royals on the first play of the Dragons drive, meant that the Royals had escaped twice without conceding points. The Royals next drive however ended in the punt being blocked and recovered for a touchdown. Dragons successfully convert the two point conversion giving them a commanding 24-6 lead. The rest of the fourth quarter would play out with neither offence being able to consistently move the ball in the worsening weather. The Royals will be disappointed with letting the game get away from them in the first quarter however they recovered well defensively. Still searching for that first win they will look to next week for everything to come together.
MUGC Lions v Ballarat Falcons By Jack Roberts The Melbourne University Lions headed out to Gippsland for their first road game of the 2014 season versus the 1-0, Ballarat Falcons. In similar wet conditions to their opening game, the Lions were hoping for their first ever win in Gridiron Victoria competition. After winning the toss, the Lions elected to receive. A poor kick return left the offense with poor field position to begin the game. A big run for the first down by QB Dylan Letoga seemed to open the floodgates as the Lions made big gains on the ground early. However, the drive halted inside the Falcons 30. A big push by the Ballarat frontline on 4th down reversed all the momentum created by the Lions from a solid first drive that should have produced points. The Lions defence held up well on the opening Falcons possession restricting Ballarat to a third and long inside their own 30. However, broken coverage in the secondary allowed a big passing play as the Falcons entered Lions territory for the first time in the contest. Penalties for both teams early prevented any chance of either team building any momentum or considerable advantage. The rest of the first quarter was a stalemate ending scoreless. The Lions started the second quarter with an important stop on third down forcing a Ballarat punt from midfield. The Falcons special teams unit was dominant early, winning the battle for field position. A lucky bounce out of bounds on the punt pinned the Lions on their own 1-yard line. The Falcons capitalized. In a nearly identical situation to the previous week, the first score of the game was a safety, as QB Letoga stepped out the back of the end zone while attempting a pass under severe pressure. On the ensuing punt, the Falcons special teams seemingly took control of the game. A great individual return for a touchdown was negated by a blocking penalty at midfield. The Lions were given a moment of respite but the defence struggled to contain the outside run of the Falcons after successfully clogging up the middle. After opening up holes in the ground game, the Falcons executed on a deep pass from just outside of the red zone and scored the first touchdown of the game. Although they failed to convert the extra point they held a valuable lead over the Lions, 8-0. Disaster struck for the young Lions during the following kick return, as Welbie Chan was the victim of a clean, hard
hit in the open field resulting in a concussion. His loss to the secondary would become evident as the game wore on. Multiple Lions players were forced to play both ways leaving the offence with little spark and the defence with a lack of speed. The two teams traded punts and penalties as the half drew near. Scott Algate, normally a WR, had a great opportunity to make a big play for the Lions but dropped an interception that would have surely been a pick six. The defence had looked to keep the team within striking distance but, with just seconds remaining in the half, the Falcons executed a slant across the middle resulting in a 15-0 lead going into halftime. The Lions offence showed glimpses of promise, particularly on the ground, throughout the first half despite having nothing to show for their efforts. The defence was solid but suffered from lapses in coverage allowing the Falcons to capitalize. The scoreboard failed to reflect the close nature of the game at the half. Ballarat had a clear advantage in special teams and in passing plays but costly penalties for both clubs were keeping the game tight. The first possession of the second half was the Lions undoing, as they failed to stick tackles and their lack of speed on defence was exposed. The Falcons looked to control the game on the ground, gaining big chunks of yardage, while running down the clock. The prospect of a Lions comeback seemed slim after Ballarat punched the ball into the end zone from 2-yards out. The Falcons led by 22-0 with just a quarter and a half remaining in game. The Lions offence couldnâ€™t catch a break as Elvin Le replaced starting QB Letoga, after he took a hit to the knee. While Le would make some promising plays on the ground the offence was again stalled by the suffocating Falcons defence and forced to punt. A familiar theme continued as the Falcons marched down the field predominantly running to the outside. The Lions defence stalled the drive on third down and forced a missed â€˜chip-shotâ€™ field goal. Unfortunately, the Falcons forced a fumble on the following play and took over with great field position, inside the red zone. Although the Lions defence had spent the majority of the third quarter on the field, they stood tall and forced a turnover on downs as the game headed to the final stanza. In the fourth quarter, the Lions offence could not move the chains, failing to take advantage of solid work by the offensive line. However, the special teams came up big and Donal Stott recovered a fumble on the Falcons punt return. The Lions had hope if they could score quickly, trailing by three touchdowns. This was not the case as the Lions punted for the final time in the game with mere minutes remaining. The Falcons ran down the clock while consistently moving the chains and scored along the ground for the second time in the half on a 10-yard rush. A bad snap on the PAT was fortuitous for Ballarat who benefited from the broken play running it into the end zone for a 2-point conversion. While the scoreboard read an ugly 30-0, the Lions showed a lot of heart in the contest and will continue to improve as the season wears on into the Winter.
Words from the coach “While I’m not happy with the results I’m happy with the effort the players are putting in. I think we’re close. We’ve been training hard and we want to get that first win this weekend.”
Most Valuable Players Lions: Scott Algate: Scott stepped in to go both ways and made good improvements from week 1. Tokoa Samuel: Tokoa played both ways, and made some big plays.
Royals: Jonny Russian: Jonny got two interceptions against the Dragons and kept their star receiver quiet for most of the game. Aliou Ba: Aliou made good contributions on special teams and made a lot of catches for big gains.
Around the league Division One: Northern Raiders 0-15 South Eastern Predators: The Predators strong defensive unit keeps the opposition scoreless for the second week running giving their out of sync offence an easy job. Geelong Buccaneers 55-0 Monash Barbarians: Having put 49 points up on the Warriors last week it was no surprise to see the Buccaneers completely dominate in week 2. They look to be the team to beat in 2014. Berwick Miners 0-30 Monash Warriors: What many people expected to be a close game turned out to be very one sided. The inexperienced Miners couldnâ€™t capitalise on their win in week 1, going down to the Warriors at home.
Division Two: Gippsland Gladiators 28-0 Pakenham Silverbacks: The Gladiators bounced back in a big way after their week 1 defeat, proving the doubters wrong by keeping the promising Silverbacks off the scoreboard.
Round Three Preview MUGC Lions vs Gippsland Gladiators: The Lions will be looking to put some points on the board after being shut out by the Falcons in round 2. The defence will have to play well to keep the Gladiators to a low score. The Gladiators will be going for a second win to keep up with the Falcons in Division 2. Kick off: 10:30am Saturday @ Ranger Field, Springfield Avenue, Croydon MUGC Royals vs Croydon Rangers: The Rangers got a win in week 1 and after the early bye will be looking to get a string of wins under their belt, starting with the Royals. The Royals will be coming out hard to redeem themselves after a disappointing game against the Dragons. If the weather can stay clear this should be a great game. Kick off: 1:30pm Saturday @ Ranger Field, Springfield Avenue, Croydon
Division 1: Geelong Buccaneers vs South Eastern Predators: The Buccaneers offence has put 100 points up in two games, the Predators defence has given up 0. This will be a very intense, physical game that could give rise to one of the biggest rivalries in Gridiron Victoria. Kick off 1:30pm Saturday @ The Cove, Corio Community Reserve, Geelong Monash Warriors vs Bendigo Dragons: Both teams got morale boosting wins in round 2 and will be looking to get another win on the board. The Warriors offence will have to find a way through a tough Dragons defence led by their import linebacker. The Dragons will have to find a way to put points on the board in all 4 quarters. Kick off: 10:30am Sunday @ Sidney Pargeter Reserve, Power Road, Endeavour Hills Berwick Miners vs Monash Barbarians: Both teams suffered defeats in round 2 and will be looking to bounce back. The Barbs will see the Miners as beatable and will definitely be up for this game. Expect high scores in this one. Kick off: 1:30pm Sunday @ Sidney Pargeter Reserve, Power Road, Endeavour Hills Western Crusaders vs Northern Raiders: After the punishing game against the Predators the last thing the Raiders will want is a fresh legged Crusader side that had a bye in week 2. Both teams are searching for that first win of the season and will leave it all on the field this week. Kick off 1pm Sunday @ Henry Turner Reserve, Maribrynong Boulevard, Footscray
Division 2: Pakenham Silverbacks vs Ballarat Falcons: The Falcons are proving to be the surprise team in 2014 and will look to carry on their unbeaten run in against a Silverbacks side that has potential. The Silverbacks will want to show they can compete with the more experienced side and will be up for this game despite the long drive. Kick off: 10:30am Saturday @ The Cove, Corio Community Reserve, Geelong
Openly gay player falls to the last round: Why? By Donal Stott Michael Sam is the first openly gay footballer to be drafted by the NFL, he fell to the last round, why? The defensive end from the University of Missouri was the SEC defensive MVP and an all-American; he was taken by the Saint Louis Rams with 249th pick of 256. With the play Sam showed throughout his college carrier the question needs to be asked, why so late? It’s a question even Sam is asking. ““Who knows? Only the people who sit in the war room know. They saw Michael Sam, day after day they scratched it off the board. That was their loss,” said Sam. When Sam came out as gay in February a buzz went around the league and his draft stock plummeted. Originally discussed by pundits as a likely mid round pick, suddenly people were saying no one would pick him up. One NFL coach speaking anonymously to sports illustrated even questioned if the league could handle an openly gay player. “I don’t think football is ready for [an openly gay player] just yet,” he said. How is it that while every sector of society is being pushed towards acceptance of homosexuality one of the highest profile sporting codes is showing such intolerance? Sam was publicly congratulated by President Obama, fellow gay sports man NBA centre Jason Collins and many exNFL players. While the weight of public support is clearly behind Sam there are still questions of whether or not the locker room will accept him. Why is it that we expect everyday people to accept homosexuals but wonder if our sporting heroes can? These players are not only regular people but looked up to as idols, the standards for them are higher and we should expect acceptance from them as we do everyone else. But really who is really wondering about the locker rooms acceptance? The old white men who run the league? Most players are evolved enough to look past issues of sexuality and for the few who can’t the rest of the locker room should be enough to put them back into line. So whose fear is this? The players or the old white men? Well either way the Rams have come away with a great seventh round pick and their head coach, Jeff Fisher is pretty happy. “In the world of diversity we live in now, I'm honoured to be a part of this,” said Fisher. Despite the late selection Sam is just happy to have a chance to play and he’s ready to show the rest of the league what they missed out on. “I knew I was going to get picked somewhere… Every team that passed me, I was thinking how I'm going to sack their quarterback,” said Sam.