We said this would be a close contest and it sure was! Our games against the Hornets are often the most hotly contested in any given season. Unfortunately, they got the better of us to the tune of 2 points. Let’s break down the game.
The Cats won the coin toss and chose to defer. The Hornets elected to receive the kick. The first possession gained no more than 5 yards as the Cats D stood their ground. The Cat started their first possession on their 41 yard line. However, this was cut short by an intercepted pass, giving the Hornets the ball at midfield. A wayward snap sent the Hornets back, giving the Cats D some breathing room. Both offences seemed to struggle to find a rhythm. However, The Hornets broke the stalemate with a pass for a touchdown. The PAT was sent right of the uprights. WR Michael Johnson started to show some early dominance and gained plenty of yards for the Cats. But the Cats couldn’t seem to make a play at the Hornets 20 yard line. The Hornets then managed to find a gap in the Cats secondary and exploit it for a long pass for their second and last touchdown of the game. The Hornets went for 2 points this time. However, the pass was incomplete, leaving the score at 12 for the Hornets.
The second quarter began deep in Cats territory with the Hornets in possession. But they couldn’t get another score. Backup QB, James Horne, had the daunting task of taking the Cats almost a full length of the field. He managed some good plays, but the Hornets D stopped the Cats from going much further than the 30 yard line. The Punt unit delivered, giving the Hornets the ball back in their own half at the 45 yard line. Once again the Hornets moved the ball within the 20 yard line. But once again the Cats D stopped them in their tracks. Frustrated, the Hornets kicked the Field Goal to score their last points of the game.
With the score at 0-15, the Cats took to the field knowing that the win was still possible. RB Mark Womble made some excellent runs. This combined with Michael Johnson’s prowess in the passing game mean the Cats moved the ball with a renewed vigour. MJ’s legs finally took him over the goal line for the score. The PAT was no good, leaving the score at 6-15. DB Troy Cockerill flew down the field on the following kick return, single-handedly flooring the Hornets kick returner at the 20 yard line. The Hornets still had life in them, and plenty of fight. They moved the ball back into the Cats half. That was until Cats LB Ben Baily managed to intercept the pass. The Cats had difficulty moving the ball and eventually had to punt it away.
With possession of the ball, and at midfield, the Cats were keen to close the gap further still. A series of good plays were brought to an abrupt halt when WR Thabiso Mpofu was hit as he caught a pass. The force knocking the ball out of his hands where is bounced of the ground. The umpire controversially gave the Hornets possession, claiming that it had been fumbled. Fortunately, the Cats D were able to force a 3 and out, giving the ball back to the offence. Time running out, the Cats kept at work and MJ kept the hopes alive with more electrifying plays. But it was WR Ryan Smith who brought in the pass for the second Cats touchdown. The brought the score to 12-15. The PAT was good, making it 13-15. The Hornets seemed to switch to run plays to run down the clock. Shortly after the 2 minute warning, the Cats had the ball on the 17 yard line on the 4th down. Kicker, William Browning stepped up. But the ball sailed to the left of the uprights, keeping the score at it was.
Overall, it was a good performance from the Cats. Unfortunately, just not quite good enough. The Cats will travel to the Hornets for Game 6 with hopes of returning the favour of a win on the road.
Offence MVP – Michael Johnson
Defence MVP – Ben Baily
Game MVP – James Horne
Special Teams MVP – Troy Cockerill
Game 2 is only a week after Game 1. The Cats will travel to South Ockenden to face the newly promoted Essex Spartans. The Spartans go their season off to a great start by winning against other Division 1 newbies, London Blitz B.