What wonderful weather we had yesterday in Bornem. The sun was shining and there wasn’t much wind – perfect conditions for offenses to come out and show what they can do. Or so you would think. It was defense that decided these games.
Game One – West Flanders Tribes 20, Brussels Black Angels 7
This week it was the Angels on the end of an unfair scoreline. They certainly didn’t deserve to go down by two touchdowns, and yet that’s what they were left with after CB Vermaut returned a last ditch Angels pass 65 yards to the house. K Laleman nailed the extra point which gave the final score.
It was the Tribes who had the first opportunities, both WR Laleman and TE Brutyn not catching balls they otherwise would have, forcing Tribes drives to stall. Eventually they got on the board first, through a reverse run by WR Gancharov for six yards and six points. K Laleman hit the extra point.
People who’ve seen many Tribes v Angels games know that the Tribes always make something happen in the last minute of the first half. This time it was a long pass from QB Vermaut to WR Laleman, 60 yards all the way down to the 2 yard line. Two plays later, WR Gancharov was allowed too much room in the front corner of the endzone and the Tribes were up 13-0 at the half.
Brussels certainly didn’t give up, and led by back-up QB Killens they marched the ball downfield gaining the hard yards through FB Banza and RB Sarta, which lead to a bruising 5 yard TD run by RB Trouillez behind good blocking from OL Dupont, amongst others. K Godichal made the extra point but missed a field goal later in the quarter leaving the score nicely balanced at 13-7.
However, the Angels would have a chance to win it, driving down into the red zone of the Tribes. QB Killens firing to TE Bart “The Terminator” Meys on 4th down, but he just couldn’t quite come up with it. Game over, you might think, with less than 2 minutes to go. Because you would be forgiven for thinking that a team who has won as much as the Tribes have over the years would be good at running the clock out with a lead. But they still haven’t got it figured out, running a play out of bounds and throwing an incomplete pass, and so being forced to punt and giving the Angels one last shot.
Alas for Brussels, it came up short, with the afore mentioned pick-six from Vermaut ending the game 20-7 in favour of the Tribes.
The first half was pretty dominant for the Tribes. QB Killens couldn’t get into any rhythm as he was constantly being pressured and sacked hard by DE Dossche and LB Jamin, the latter causing a fumble. The second half was a complete turnaround as the Angels offensive line got through to the linebackers and their running game took over for long periods.
So what we learned from this game is that the Tribes most definitely can be beaten. Also that T Verheyen is a solid replacement along the Tribes offensive line, but also that the Angels power running game still has the ability to dominate.
Game Two – Bornem Titans 14, Gent Gators 7
This game turned out to be a rather defensive struggle too, the winning points coming early in the third quarter on a 60 yard run by RB Steenackers, taking a handoff left before cutting back up the middle all the way to the promised land. Steenackers received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for diving into the endzone, and in a move I couldn’t quite figure out, Gent opted for the 15 yards to be added onto the extra point try rather than the kickoff. The Titans went for two, and after some rather excellent pass blocking QB D’Hondt found WR Vermeir over the middle, was able to turn the corner and get the conversion to put themselves up 7.
Bornem opened well, spreading the ball around, but could only muster a missed field goal in the opening quarter. Pinned deep in their own territory, Gent’s FB De Gussem fumbled the ball, which bounced into the hands of Bornem LB Steenbeke, and he was able to scamper in for a touchdown. The extra point was no good, Titans lead 6-0.
Gent responded with a long drive of their own, QB Jelle Van Melder looking a bit more composed in the pocket compared to their first game, and delivering some nice balls caught by WR #81. In the end, it was RB Kim Jolie who broke a couple of tackles and fought his way into the endzone for the Gators. K De Gussem’s extra point was good and the Gators would lead 6-7 at half time.
The lead wouldn’t last long as RB Steenackers long distance effort and the two point conversion took the score to 14-7, where it would remain for the rest of the game. Solid defense by the Titans, especially LB Eerens and DL De Decker held the Gators scoreless in the second half. Meanwhile, for the Gators, S #25 held it together at the back and was well helped by LB #17 who delievered a couple of very hard hits.
The Gators would get within 10 yards of the endzone right at the end of the game, but a couple of passes ended in the dirt rather than in the hands of recievers, killing any chance of a comeback.
Game Three (Leopoldsburg) – Brussels Bulls 33, Leuven Lions 0
As you all know, I was in Bornem, so clearly, I’m giving these reports to you second hand. Thanks to Ole and Floris from Leuven for their thoughts about this game.
The Lions started similarly to how they opened against the Angels. Two touchdowns against in the first few minutes and they could never recover. The Bulls used their strength up the middle to good advantage, getting enough yards straight ahead to draw the Leuven secondary in, and then run around them, gaining big yards around the edge.
The biggest difference for the Lions this week as opposed to last week was their lack of energy and spirit as the game wore on. It would seem that they didn’t put up much of a fight towards the end of the game which must be worrying for the coaches and senior players. They’ll be looking to redeem themselves on Sunday when they have their first home game of the season.
Game Four (Leopoldsburg) – Antwerp 50, Limburg 0 (forfeit)
Apparently the ambulance at the ground had to leave or something and didn’t return immediately, leaving the Shotguns with an unfortunate forfeit, made worse by the fact that the game was well and truly under way, and that they were leading 19-13 at the time.
Here are the first computer ratings of the season. It should probably be noted that Limburg should well deserve to be rated higher, however the computer only uses the final scores of the games.
1 – West Flanders Tribes (1-0) : 2943
2 – Bornem Titans (2-0) : 2693
3 – Antwerp Diamonds (2-1) : 2261
4 – Brussels Bulls (1-1) : 2121
5 – Brussels Black Angels (1-1) : 1848
6 – Leuven Lions (1-2) : 881
7 – Gent Gators (0-2) : 334
8 – Limburg Shotguns (0-1) : 64
Players of the week
Titans RB Nico Steenackers. Gained all the hard yards as we have come to expect, and showed great vision to cut back inside on the touchdown run.
Tribes WR Vitaly Gancharov. Didn’t have the ball in his hands a lot, but made the most of his chances, scoring two touchdowns and delivering a couple of bone-jarring blocks on Tribes sweep plays.
Angels RB combination Sarta/Trouillez. Dominated the game in the second half, churning out the yards against a powerful Tribes defense, and Trouillez scoring the only touchdown for the Angels.
Ten thoughts I think I think
1 – I think I actually got a bit sunburnt in Bornem. Nice that there was actually enough sting in the sun to be able to do it.
2 – I think that it was nice to meet mama BBA, Chantal, at the games. There is a woman who sure knows her football.
3 – I think that there’ll be quite some controversy surrounding the cancellation of the Shotguns v Diamonds game.
4 – I think that the Thursday mailbag of this week is going to be a Friday mailbag. Thursday evening I’ll be sitting in a Japanese restaurant in London with some old friends, so the FFL will have to wait. Unless of course, I’m finished writing by Wednesday evening, which is unlikely.
5 – I think it’s funny how a game can swing. The Tribes had a couple of great chances early and it very nearly cost them when the Angels stormed back in the second half.
6 – I think the Gators will be kicking themselves too. They had a real shot at it, and having two quarterbacks in the backfield is a definite advantage for them.
7 – I think coaches need to spend more time on Special Teams at training. Unbelievable the amount of mess-ups on Sunday – snaps too high, snaps too low, punts that go more sideways than forwards, returners standing way too deep.. Only a matter of time before a team loses because of poor special teams.
8 – I think the Irish ref on Sunday in Bornem was totally into it. Gotta check out his signal for restarting the game clock.
9 – I think it was a lovely alternative for the usual burgers there in Bornem. Spuds* with either chicken or bacon and a few veggies thrown in as well. Certainly gets a good review from this reporter.
10 – I think these are my non FFL thoughts of the week.
– Off to London on Thursday. My favourite big city, besides Melbourne, of course.
– I’ve caught a virus. Out of action today and tomorrow. Nice to be home, but I feel so blah, like my legs are made out of lead. Fortunately it didn’t start until after I was home yesterday.
– The Cricket World Cup is a slow moving affair. Brilliant that Ireland beat England though! Those of you who don’t know, Australians only support two teams : Australia, and anybody playing against England.
– Hoping to see some good progress in the NFL labor talks this week. I don’t want to face sunday evenings without the NFL!
Quote of the week
“Hey Dale, I have just found Wally!” – injured Tribes LT Jeroen Vanhauwere, who spotted a guy in a red stripey shirt, a beanie and glasses on the sidelines in Bornem
March 13 – Gent
12:00 – Brussels Black Angels (1-1) v Brussels Bulls (1-1)
15:00 – Antwerp Diamonds (2-1) v Gent Gators (0-2)
March 13 – Leuven
12:00 – Limburg Shotguns (0-1) v West Flanders Tribes (1-0)
15:00 – Bornem Titans (2-0) v Leuven Lions (1-2)
This weekend I’ll be in Leuven. I’m curious to see the Shotguns measure themselves against the Tribes, not to mention that the Titans, our only team at 2-0, will try to extend their winning streak. Until next time.
* ‘Spud’ is an Australian word, meaning potato.