The Hertfordshire Cheetahs Senior squad finally accelerated away from the Oxford Saints in the fourth quarter and came away with a convincing win at Tilsley Park.
Both sides would observe a minute’s silence before kickoff in honour of Saints HC Andrew Day’s Father.
The game would start as a cagey affair between two strong division one sides with neither offence advancing the ball far down the field. Back-to-back-to-back punts would eventually give Hertfordshire the ball inside their own forty and a chance to take the lead. Big runs from Adam Adeniji would give the Cheetahs four opportunities from inside the Oxford 10, but costly false start penalties meant they were unable to convert and the score remained 0-0.
The Cheetah defence were in a punishing mood and the Saints continued to struggle to move the ball offensively and the first quarter expired with neither team able to add to the scoreboard. The Hertfordshire offence would change that on the next drive. Two quick passes from QB Martin Brown to WR Nick Ford would put them in range and Adeniji would complete the drive. Following strong blocking from the Cheetahs Offensive Line and Wide Receivers, including rookie Chimoi Young, Adeniji weaved through the Saints defence for a 34 yard touchdown. Missing both their kickers, Hertfordshire would go for two, which Adeniji would convert, 8-0.
That would change inside the first twenty seconds of the second half. A fantastic 73yard kick return from Conor Wilson, who followed a triple block by Jai Jackson, set the Cheetahs offence up on the two yard line. Adeniji would add his second TD of the day on the very next play. The 2pt conversion failed, but the Cheetahs had a 14-0 lead. The Hertfordshire defence continued to suffocate the Saints led by defensive MVP Josh Kent and rookie Patryk Cwiertnia but the offence couldn’t capitalise and the scoreboard remained unchanged for the rest of the third quarter.
However, the offence would click into gear in the fourth quarter. On the second drive of the fourth quarter Running Back Conor Wilson would get the score his long kick return deserved as he followed fantastic blocking from Centre Tyler Fawbush and Guard Scott Banks to run in untouched from 38 yards out. Backup Quarterback Jake Barnes, replacing Martin Brown for the second half would convert the two point conversion finding Ford in the corner of the endzone to take a three score lead (22-0).
Sensing blood and knowing the offence were just settling into the game, the defence would get the ball right back for the Cheetahs. On the first play after the Wilson touchdown, Joel Adjei forced a strip fumble, which he returned to the Oxford 17. Two plays later first year Running Back Hafeez Bisiriyu would take the pitch and cut behind Right Tackle Neil Prothero for a 17 yard touchdown. Again the two point was unsuccessful and Hertfordshire quickly found themselves up by 28. The defence would again keep the pressure on and forced Oxford into their ninth punt of the day. A poor punt gave the offence excellent field position, which they once again converted. Barnes would throw his first touchdown of the season to Nick Ford from 18 yards out and the Cheetahs were out in front by 34.
The Saints were desperate to cut the deficit again on the next drive and came out swinging, but an errant pass was intercepted by experienced defensive back Charles Kahonde and the Cheetahs were able to run out the rest of the clock to keep their undefeated start to the season intact.
Learn more about the showdown with the Saints and what Head Coach Craig Barnes had to say on the Cheetah’s performance at HerfordshireCheetahs.com