With an event running down at The Rig, it would be a home away from home - Harlaw Academy's Playing Fields - that would be the scene for a huge clash at the top of the Division 2 North table as we took on the Dumfries Hunters. Keen to avenge our 26-20 win at the David Keswick Athletics Centre in Dumfries, it was the Hunters who took the opening kick-off on a beautiful sunny day.
MVP from our last game against the Clyde Valley Blackhawks, Rhys Elmslie would pick up where he left off in the kick return game, setting up excellent field position for the offence who would capitalise almost immediately. An opening drive connection between brothers Sean (WR #1) and Chris (QB #16) Breen would again find the endzone with the latter standing bravely in the pocket to put the ball on a plate for the former to open the scoring early doors; Roughnecks 7, Hunters 0. A field goal miss would squander some points in the first quarter, but WR #2 Chris "Jesus" Martin wouldn't let Roughnecks heads drop, taking the ball about 80 yards on a short screen pass to double the advantage. Not a bad way to score your first ever Touchdown; Roughnecks 14, Hunters 0.
All was going well, until a fumbled punt snap would allow the Hunters back into the game as they seized upon the opportunity. With short field the Hunters would find the endzone themselves to bring them back within a score as quarterback found receiver. Electing to go for 2, the Roughnecks D would smother the play before it got going, tackling the escaping "kicker" for a loss of yardage. Immediately however the Hunters learned again the danger of the Roughnecks kick return - a unit which is emerging as a real asset to the team - as #22 Gamu Mukuredzi would take the ball all the way back to the Hunters' own redzone, before a horse collar tackle would move the ball further into the danger zone. A short series later, and some excellent play calling and execution, TE #85 Rob Hayes was wide open in the back endzone and QB Chris Breen would duly oblige, hitting him with a delicate pass for his first Touchdown of the year; Roughnecks 21, Hunters 6.
Having staged a good comeback attempt in our first meeting of the season, the Hunters would look to do the same in the second half of this one, and they got off to a good start, scoring a touchdown on their second drive of the half, and their second drive of the game where a turnover would provide them with short field. Aiming to make it a 7 point game, the Hunters elected to go for two again, this time finding the endzone on a QB run emulating his running back on the previous play; Roughnecks 21, Hunters 14. That would be it for the Hunters scoring however, as the Roughnecks defence would stifle them for the rest of the game, allowing no more than a couple of first downs on any ensuing drives.
It was a Hunters punt which would lead to the Roughnecks pulling out further in front too, as the defence held strong. #22 Gamu Mukuredzi would get another chance to return the ball and he didn't need to be asked twice. Collecting the ball just inside his own half, Gamu would twist and turn his way to the 10, shedding a tackle or two on his way, before powering his way over the line, dragging two defenders with him; 28 - 14, and the Roughnecks' first ever return touchdown. Of course, the spirited Dumfries side would never give up, but the only remaining score would be the Roughnecks as the game was put to bed. #18 WR Rhys Elmslie got in on the scoring act, collecting a deep pass from Chris Breen to make it four passing touchdowns through the air and cement the victory.
We'd like to thank the Dumfries Hunters for making the trip north, and wish them well with the rest of their season. Our next game comes in a fortnight's time, as the West Coast Trojans travel to The Rig on the 8th of July. We hope you'll be there to see us take on the Trojans in a game where a win would seal the division crown with two games to spare. The Trojans are still looking for their first win of the season, and would be more than happy to spoil the party should we let them.
Defensive co-ordinator Bryce Stevenson:
"The whole team came together and rallied well in the game to ensure Dumfries didn't level the game up in the third quarter when we were up by a score. We found ourselves backed up against the wall with Dumfries gaining momentum but from the Defensive point of view we made some huge plays in crucial moments to extend the lead and also turned the ball over in advantageous field position. We focus on the West Coast Trojans now, and look to improve our record to 6-0."
SCORERS & TAKEAWAYS
QB #16 Chris Breen 4TDs thrown to: WRs #1 Sean Breen, #2 Chris Martin, #85 Rob Hayes & #18 Rhys Elmslie
PR #22 Gamu Mukuredzi
Fumble Recovery: #85 Rob Hayes
Bud Light Game MVP: #22 DB/KR Gamu Mukuredzi: Gamu shut down one half of the field for the entire game, and his kick returns set us up in some excellent field position, and he got the Roughnecks' first ever return Touchdown. Well done Gamu, Dilly Dilly!
Offensive MVP: #16 Chris Breen: Chris lead the offence up and down the field, likely had over 300 yards passing, and threw 4 Touchdowns. We can't ask for much more out of our man under centre.
Defensive MVP: #85 Rob Hayes: Rob bossed the middle of the defence all game long; Worked hard to slow the Dumfries running game on every snap of the ball, hit hard and lead the defence in and out of the huddle.
All images: Gail Davis