Berkshire triumph to end a ten game losing streak
Hampshire hosted Berkshire Renegades for their first Saturday night game under the floodlights of Test Park. The Renegades had never beaten the Thrashers in all 10 of their previous encounters but the Berkshire side had no lack of confidence after a successful 2011 season in Division 2.
Hampshire received the ball first but their first drive was to be indicative of the rest of game. The drive lost 12 yards being driven back by 10 yards of penalties before punting the ball away from inside their own 20.
Berkshire’s offence looked the polar opposite. Starting at their own 44 veteran quarterback Paul Waddington lead his team on a 12 play 45 yard drive before the drive stalled at the Hampshire 16 yard line. The field goal attempt was unsuccessful and Hampshire took control of the ball at their 21. The offence could only muster 1 yard and punted the ball away.
Berkshire started just inside their half and faired no better, penalties driving them back before losing the ball on a fumble. Starting inside the Berkshire half the Thrashers were driven back to their own 39 yard line before punting the ball away.
Berkshire struggled again on offence penalties costing them dearly and driving a 7 play possession backwards before punting.
The Thrasher’s offence seemed to be instilled with a little life and drove out from their 16 yard line to midfield before having to punt the ball away. Berkshire started on their 11 yard line and opened the score line on their first play but not in the way they intended. An errant screen pass was ruled as a fumble and linebacker Paul Kelly collected the loose ball to score a touchdown. Ben Rosen added the extra point and Hampshire took a surprising 7-0 lead.
Berkshire followed up with a good kick return bringing the ball out to their 39 yard line. However, 5 plays generated a loss of yards and they turned over the ball just inside their half. Hampshire also followed with a 5 play drive but had the same result being driven back 2 yards before punting.
With time running out in the half Berkshire took to the field with a little more urgency and Waddington calmly led his offence on an 80 yard drive before the Berkshire offence opened their account with a touchdown run. The extra point was good to tie the score at 7-7. Hampshire took to the field inside the two minute warning and were happy to run out the clock and take the level score line in to the locker room for the half.
Neither offence came out of the break well both turning over their first possessions on downs, Berkshire then going 3 and out whilst Hampshire again turned it over on downs. The Renegades fumbles continued after a fumble on their following drive handed the ball to Hampshire on the Berkshire 22 yard line in a position that looked sure to break the deadlock. However, the Thrashers couldn’t take advantage and were driven back 10 yards before punting.
On the following Berkshire possession the fortunes of the game appeared to change mid-play. A huge break away run was chased down after 61 yards by safety Josh Amis who stripped the ball for fellow safety Allando Barnett to recover. Seemingly having dodged a bullet the Thrashers turned the game when a wayward Brad Sawyers pass was intercepted by Berkshire and returned 31 yards to give Berkshire the lead. The extra point was missed and Berkshire held a 7-13 score line.
With the game now in the fourth quarter the Hampshire offence needed to ignite and moved the ball modestly for 17 yards before punting the ball away inside the Berkshire half. A well placed Dom Williams punt could not be downed before rolling in to the endzone and the Renegades took the ball at their own 20 with the intention of draining the clock. A time sapping 7 play drive covered 55 yards taking the ball to the Hampshire 35 yard line before punting.
The ball rolled out just behind the goal marker giving Hampshire the ball on their 20 with time running out in the game. Things appeared disastrous on the first play when running back Tom Bane had the ball stripped from him mid stride. Berkshire responded immediately with a scoring touchdown but the long run was called back on a penalty. The Hampshire defence continued to apply pressure and Berkshire punted leaving the Thrashers with one last chance to take the win.
Hampshire then looked to be set for a fairytale ending as Sawyers moved his offence up the field behind some strong running from Tom Borsay. The 8 play 41 yard drive finally stalled on 4th and short when Sawyers and receiver Dave Fredricks failed to hook up on the short pass attempt.
Waddington took to the field to kneel for 2 plays and take an unprecedented win for Head Coach Paul Gordon.