By Twm Owen
American Football BAFA Southern Conference Division Two West
South Wales Warriors 29 – Somerset Wyverns 6
A bizarre touchdown helped the South Wales Warriors break the deadlock to secure a hard-fought home victory over the Somerset Wyverns.
A punt, which looked to have been touched dead at the Warriors’ 30-yard line, was picked up by Nate Webb who raced 60 yards to score the game’s opening touchdown late in the first quarter as the Wyverns punt team were leaving the field.
The opening score left the Wyverns, who seconds earlier had been standing over the ball they thought they had grounded, scratching their heads and seemingly crying over spilled milk at Llanharan’s Dairy Field at how the Warriors had taken a 6-0 lead.
Somerset’s coaches were apparently told as chaser Ryan Brown hadn’t touched the ball on the ground for at least three seconds the whistle wasn’t blown before Webb casually picked it up, stepped to his right and set off down the sideline.
Warriors head coach Geraint Roberts, unsurprisingly, said the officials had made the right call:
“The explanation was as the defender just put his hand on the ball it was still in play, the kicking team have to pick it up (to ground the ball). It was still in play. Nate turned to the official and asked is the ball still in play and the referee said ‘I haven’t blown the whistle’.
“It was a good head’s up play from Nate Webb and definitely the right call.”
The Warriors have built early leads in all of their three previous victories in the British American Football Association Division Two West this term but neither the home side or the visitors could make much offensive headway in the early exchanges.
Linebacker Webb’s unexpected touchdown, which was converted by Mick Duncan, helped relax the Warriors who had been growing frustrated at their failure to score against the Wyverns who had lost their last two fixtures.
The score spurred the Wyverns into responding with quarterback Jack Mullins finding receivers Tom Bowering and Will Standen to move into the Warriors territory.
But Mullins was caught out after throwing a pass into the middle of the field but behind Bowering, who tried his best to catch it with his outstreched left hand.
He couldn’t grab the wayward pass which instead fell to Warriors defensive back Christopher Bartlett-Legge who scooped it up at the Warriors 20-yard line.
Powerful running back Josh Hughes gave the Warriors a first down and QB Dean Jackson connected with Mick Duncan for 20-yards across the middle.
The QB then found receiver Max McNeill-Smith down the left hand-sideline with a 35-yard pass to open the second quarter. From five yards out there was no stopping Hughes and Duncan again converted.
With their foot on the Wyverns’ throat the Warriors refused to ease off. At the kick-off, rather than kicking deep for position, Duncan floated an inviting, short looping kick, to the left, between the two lines of Wyverns blockers, which CJ Caparas raced to collect and retain possession for the Warriors.