With the stage set for the start of our fifth BAFA National Leagues season, the Roughnecks were looking to get off the mark quickly with the visit of the Clyde Valley Blackhawks to The Rig. Winning the toss and choosing to defer, the Roughnecks were to take kick-off - on what was a great day for football despite the wind blowing down the pitch - and start on defence.
Keen to hit the ground running, the Roughnecks defence were quick to get off the field on the first drive, and that was a theme they kept up all day, earning 9 total takeaways on the day, with 6 interceptions to three different recipients, and 3 fumble recoveries.
Following a couple of drives that resulted in punts, the offence would find the endzone in the first quarter through Running Back #35 Dave Obatolu, who carried the ball up the middle and into the endzone from about 4 yards out. The extra point would be tacked on as the Roughnecks took a 7 - 0 lead. With the defence holding out, the offence would again get into scoring range before being stopped by the Blackhawks defence at the 9 yard line. Kicker, #4 Stuart Don would make the 26 yard field goal albeit in an unorthodox manner, as the ball bounced off of the top of the crossbar on the way through, no doubt giving Special Teams Co-ordinator George Pirie a small heart-attack, but making the score 10 - 0 nonetheless. Both defence and offence would continue to perform well, with the offence managing to put together a quick drive to again get into scoring range but the Blackhawks did well to block the resulting field goal as time expired on the first half.
The second half would play out in a similar fashion as the first, with the defence holding steady, whilst the offence chipped away at the yardage down the field, however penalties - on both sides of the ball - would hamper the efforts early. The first score of the second half would come in the 4th quarter from the defence however. Following an offensive drive which stopped just over the halfway line, and the ensuing Roughnecks punt pinned the Blackhawks back on their own 1 yard line, and following two pass attempts on first and second down which went incomplete, the Roughnecks front 7 got to the CVB quarterback in the back of the endzone for the safety. 12 - 0 to the Roughnecks. Running Back #35 Dave Obatolu would find the endzone again on the right side from 22 yards out before Full Back #44 Grant Travis would stroll in with the 2 point conversion almost untouched to complete the Roughnecks scoring for the day; 20 - 0.
The Blackhawks would find the scoreboard themselves as their defence would recover a fumble and return it to the house, leaving the score at 20 - 6 as the extra point attempt hooked wide of the left upright.
A great start to the season, beating the Blackhawks who themselves got off to a good start to the season last week, beating the Dumfries Hunters 13 - 12. A first competitive win for our new coaching staff at their first attempt speaks to their preseason programme and the hard work from the players, new and old to hit the ground running. Special mentions go to Darren Henderson (who came away with four interceptions) and Andrew Watts (who recovered all three fumbles) on defence, David Obatolu (two touchdowns), and the whole offensive line who blocked well for the running backs and quarterbacks Chris Breen and Sean McDonald all day. A congratulations to all of our new rookies who made their first appearances for the team, playing vital roles and making plays across all three phases of the game.
Worryingly however we did give away a lot of yardage in penalties, something that will need to be sorted down the line, but a good win to start the season, and encouraging signs on all three sides of the ball!
Scorers: David Obatolu (2TD), Stuart Don (PAT, FG), Grant Travis (2PAT), Defence (Safety)
Turnovers: Darren Henderson (4INTs), Andrew Watts (3 Fumble Recoveries), Robert Hayes (INT), Phil McCall (INT)