So, after two weekends of the FFL, six of the eight teams have been in action. They say that football is a funny old game, and that was certainly proven on Sunday, with a couple of unusual games. Most teams are still trying to blow the cobwebs off, it would seem, but that’s what early season games are for, I suppose. Let’s see just what happened.
Game One – Brussels Black Angels 18, Leuven Lions 0
If ever there was a misleading scoreline, this would be it. The only difference was that the Angels started fast, and caused a couple of timely turnovers when the Lions were on the march.
Actually, the Lions put themselves at a disadvantage even before the game started. The Angels won the toss and deferred, but instead of choosing to receive, the Lions chose which end to defend. Bottom line is that the Angels received to start both the first and second halves. This was compounded on the Angels opening drive when QB Njufom (who was eventually passed fit to play) found WR Delhaise, shrugging off a tackle and opening the scoring 6-0, the extra point was blocked.
On the ensuing drive, QB Vanhoof of Leuven was picked off, setting up RB Sarta for a short touchdown dive to the left, putting the Angels up 12-0 within five minutes of the game’s start.
After this, the Lions settled down, both on offense and defense (helped by some late hits from the Angels and tough running from FB Grenson), and were able to keep the score as it was right up until the final quarter when FB Banza weaved his way in on a nice run from 11 yards away, setting the final score at 18-0.
Leuven had far too many turnovers to win this game. Twice they fumbled the ball on a 4th down QB sneak (both would have been successful had the ball dislodged), and they also missed a mid-range field goal. Having said that, the Angels were hardly clean themselves, but their fast start held them out of danger. Also they could rely on solid defense, especially from LB Loquet.
Game Two – Bornem Titans 7, Antwerp Diamonds 6
I bet that the Diamonds will feel sick to their stomach when they think back to this one – it really was the one that got away. Having taken the lead in the third quarter through a connection from QB Keymolen and TE Verhelst, the Diamonds defense, led by LB Kovalenko and S Vanderaa, appeared to be able to hold strong, as they had done for the rest of the match. Their only mistake of the first half was to go offside on what would have been a pick-six.
The Titans took to the air early and often, QB Rochus getting good protection from C Ghazal, and connecting with TE D’Hondt to get the chains moving. RB Steenackers was his usual hard-to-bring-down self, and yet the Titans couldn’t manage to put together anything when approaching the Diamonds red zone – their closest attempt ended in a missed field goal in the second quarter. The half time score was still 0-0.
That was, until the aforementioned strike from the Diamonds put them up 6-0. QB Keymolen showed nice touch on the drive, completing several passes, before TE Verhelst was able to avoid tackle and CB Jaamann came across too late to be able to help out.
Things were looking grim for the Titans, as QB Rochus, RB Steenackers and LB Lagae were all forced out of the game due to injury, forcing TE D’Hondt into the QB position for the final drive. However, he looked most accomplished, shrugging off tacklers and busting a run up the sideline, before completing a nice pass or two to get the Titans within range to take a shot at the endzone.
And what a shot it was – WR Vermeir taking a glorious catch in the back of the endzone while double covered with only a couple of seconds left. On trotted K Van Hauwaert, and, with the game on the line, clanged the extra point off the post! However it dropped over the crossbar, extra point good, Titans win 7-6.
It would have perhaps been a more fair result if the ball hadn’t have gone over – the Diamonds didn’t deserve to lose. However, that’s football. But at the very least, it cements the Diamonds as a tough team that nobody is going to walk all over, and the Titans have started the season with a W. And, regardless of the score and how the game went, in the end, that’s all that matters.
Weather conditions weren’t exactly ideal today, as there was plenty of wind (especially during the first game). The teams that won today were the teams who took advantage of their chances when they presented themselves. The Angels certainly did that, and the Titans only really had one half chance, but it was enough.
As for the Diamonds, if they keep figuring out ways to keep games close, they’re going to get a big win. The Lions too, they really weren’t all that far off today, just some better ball protection and their game was a close one as well, as the Angels pass offense was virtually shut down all game long.
Players of the week
Leuven WR/CB Owusu Sakyi-Gyinae. This guy can really make it happen, both on offense and defense. He’s lightning in a bottle – a big play waiting to happen.
Titans WR Dorian Vermeir. Caught a whole heap of balls today, but none better than the game winning touchdown, splitting the double coverage and snagging* the ball out of the air.
Angels RB Gabriel Sarta. Scored a touchdown in the first quarter and fought hard all game, making good yards around the outside and fighting for the hard yards up the middle.
Ten thoughts I think I think
1 – I think I’m definitely hoping for good news regarding all the injuries around the FFL this weekend. Some of them looked quite serious. All the best, boys.
2 – I think I should thank Hans De Leenheer again, this time in this public forum, for providing me a list of all the Titans with their numbers, in the hope that other teams will do that too!
3 – I think I feel like I’m sunburnt! Probably just the wind, I suppose.
4 – I think I really like the work rate of the Lions defensive line. They make tackles and get involved all over the place, not just in around the line of scrimmage.
5 – I think it’s a miracle Antwerp’s punts don’t get blocked every time, with P Vervaet only 8 yards deep.
6 – I think I don’t understand Leuven’s kick return where they huddle and try to hide the ball. It might work against an inexperienced team, but the Angels? They’ll just hit anyone who they think might have the ball.
7 – I think it means a lot to hear how many people read and appreciate this blog. I don’t have to train like you guys but I probably spend as many hours each week writing as you do on the field. But it’s worthwhile when I get some nice comments and remarks, so thank you all.
8 – I think my All-FFL team is beginning to take shape. I update it after each weekend to reflect what I saw during the games. Of course nothing is set in stone, but as some teams have already played a quarter of their schedule and as I won’t get to see all of their remaining games, I have to keep my decision making process fairly quick.
9 – I think the burger I bought in Antwerp was precisely the same as in Gent, although it was cheaper.
10 – I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week
– Why aren’t they showing the Cricket World Cup? Stupid Eurosport, you buy the license and don’t show it! Now the only chance I get is to stay up until 1:30am for the highlights on the BBC.
– My wife, Nele, will be going back to work in a couple of weeks after a knee reconstruction (torn ACL). You see that things are going fine? You’ll be back on the dance floor in no time!
– Talk about bad timing, I got that really sharp pain in my neck when turning my head to look quickly over my right shoulder while on the Ring ’round Antwerp Sunday morning.
– My daughter : “Dad, give my fish some food before you go to bed”. She’s talking about her digital fish on my iPad!
– Just finished reading the fourth Discworld book, Mort. It was brilliant. Will put off the fifth because I’ll read “Blood, Sweat and Chalk” first. Thanks Klaas!
Quote of the week 1
“I’ve lost a person!” – current Louvain-la-Neuve player, Jones van Wezel, who was looking good after dropping 60 Kg!
Quote of the week 2
“Make sure you get the scores next week, we have something special for you!” – Shotguns coach, Chase Curren. How wonderfully cryptic, I’m looking forward to it!
March 6 – Leopoldsburg (Limburg Shotguns)
12:00 – Brussels Bulls (0-1) v Leuven Lions (1-1)
15:00 – Antwerp Diamonds (1-1) v Limburg Shotguns (0-0)
March 6 – Bornem
12:00 – Brussels Black Angels (1-0) v West Flanders Tribes (0-0)
15:00 – Bornem Titans (1-0) v Gent Gators (0-1)
Those have the potential to be a couple of good ones in Leopoldsburg, although personally, I’ll be in Bornem. This FFL fan can never resist a Tribes v Angels game. That means I’ll have seen all teams except the Shotguns, who I’ll catch the week after. Until next time.
* ‘to snag’ is an Australian verb, meaning ‘to catch’. In an unrelated note, ‘a snag’ is a sausage.