The UTS Gators entered this week with a little extra motivation – to shut down the Sutherland Seahawks high-scoring offense and prove the quality of the Gator defense once again. There is no love lost between these two clubs and […]
After being idle for two weeks, the UTS Gators were chompin’ at the bit to get back on the field again. Unfortunately for the Northwestern Predators, they had to face a well-rested Gators team, out for revenge for last year’s […]
As the Gators headed into their week 5 contest against the 0-3 Northern Sydney Rebels, Head Coach Rocco Bosco was very clear in his message to the team, “We can not afford to take any opponent lightly. These games are […]
With the 2014 Gridiron NSW Women’s season set to kickoff in a short 2 weeks, the UTS Lady Gators have been training hard in hopes of improving on their 3rd place finish last season. Preseason started in early June with […]
Week 4 saw UTS matched up against the winless Nepean Ducks. In their first season of competition in Gridiron NSW, the Ducks have struggled to find their identity but despite lacking experienced talent at key positions on both sides of […]
The UTS Gators entered this week with a little extra motivation – to shut down the Sutherland Seahawks high-scoring offense and prove the quality of the Gator defense once again. There is no love lost between these two clubs and it showed from the outset with a very physical game. The Seahawks hung tough with UTS through the first 2 quarters, tying the game at 14-14 with under 2 minutes remaining in the first half before UTS drove the length of the field in a minute, twenty seconds for a touchdown to go into half-time with a slim 22-14 lead. The Gators came out in the second half with all of the momentum and quickly ran away with the game to claim a 44-20 victory and remain the only unbeaten team in Gridiron NSW, Division 1 at 7-0.
The game began as a defensive struggle in the first quarter with neither team able to really gain any traction on offense until UTS put together a solid 30 yard drive behind running back Freddie Khouiss, down to the Sutherland 4 yard-line. UTS was unable to capitalize, however, as the Seahawk defense pressured UTS quarterback Brad Leech into a bad pass that was intercepted in the endzone and returned out to the 37 yard-line. The Seahawks took advantage of the momentum swing and marched down the field for the game’s opening score and putting the Gators in a very unfamiliar position, trailing 0-6.
The true grit and determination of this year’s Gators team shone through at this point, instead of dropping their heads and laying down, the Gators dug deep and responded in impressive form. On their next possession, the Gator offense took the ball on their own 22 yard-line and made it look easy as they went 58 yards in 4 plays for the tying touchdown. A 35 yard pass reception from Leech to wide receiver Nick Giovanangeli got things rolling, followed by an 8 yard reception to slotback Jim Close and 2 runs of 6 and 9 yards by running back Fred Khouiss put the Gators into the endzone. A successful 2-point conversion run by Khouiss put UTS ahead 8-6 early in the second quarter.
The Gator defense came out, fired up by the offense’s performance and did their job to keep the momentum in UTS’s favor, pounding Sutherland and forcing them into 2 consecutive 4-and-outs, stopping 2 4th down attempts.
Utilizing the good field position provided by the defense, the Gator offense backed up their first scoring drive with another impressive drive of 42 yards in 9 plays. Rookie running back, Tommy Benson, who has impressed Head Coach Rocco Bosco with his tenacious running and dramatic improvement week to week, got the nod for this possession and quickly gained 12 yards in 2 plays. A quick end-around run by wide receiver Ben Loudon gained 10 yards and another first down and following a defensive penalty, put the Gators on the Seahawks 15 yard-line and looking to score. Going into their heavy-set formation, UTS powered their way into the endzone for a 14-6 lead.
Nearing the end of the 2nd quarter, Sutherland got their short-passing game going and churned their way 48 yards down the field for a score to tie the game at 14-14 with an 8 yard pass reception and a successful 2-point conversion.
With 1:22 remaining in the half, the Seahawks were visibly excited, believing they would go into half-time tied with the top team in the league but a minute and twenty two seconds was just enough time for this determined Gator offense to go 61 yards in 11 plays for the go-ahead score and send the Seahawks into the half demoralized. The Gators spread the ball around, completely confusing the Seahawks defense as they methodically gained yards and managed the clock to perfection. Four sideline receptions by receiver Thomas Granger for 31 yards and another reception by receiver Justin Fatu-Leota for 10 yards accounted for the bulk of the drive which was capped off by a 2 yard touchdown run by QB Brad Leech and a 2-point conversion pass completion from Leech to Granger again gave the Gators a half-time lead of 22-14.
As the Seahawks took the ball to start the 3rd quarter, the Gator defense amped up the pressure and stopped them on their next four possessions, only allowing a total of 17 yards. The Seahawks first possession of the 2nd half was stopped on 4th & 1 as their QB, running an option was hit hard by linebacker Andrew Asher, bounced off only to be crushed by defensive tackle Matt Wilson which knocked the ball loose. The fumble was recovered by the Seahawks running back who was immediately smothered by defensive end Matt Power for a 3 yard loss and a turnover on downs. Their next 3 possessions were stopped on 4th downs by a pass broken up by Andrew Asher, who would have had a pick-six if he was just a few inches taller, a sack by defensive linemen Hugh Delaney and Ryan King and a fumble forced by Matt Power and recovered by UTS.
The Gators picked up 3 more touchdowns in the 3rd quarter with a 47 yard run by Freddie Khouiss as he tip-toed through a massive hole opened up by the offensive line, a 4 yard run by Tommy Benson and a 13 yard run by veteran running back Marco Soriano as the UTS offensive line continued to wear down the Sutherland defensive front seven.
The 4th quarter turned into a defensive match-up again as both offenses struggled and Sutherland picked up a defensive touchdown when they returned a UTS fumble 40 yards inside the 2-minute warning but at this stage, the game was out of reach. Keeping with the current theme, the UTS defense picked up a safety and two points on the Seahawks 2-point conversion attempt when defensive end Tim Clulow tipped the pass at the line of scrimmage and game MVP, Marcos Delana intercepted the ball in the endzone and went the length of the field, juking the Seahawks QB and out-running the rest of the team to finalize the score and give UTS the victory at 44-20.
Next week sees UTS face the Central Coast Sharks in what should be another physical contest. Come cheer your Gators on to victory at 5 Sports in Caringbah. Kick-off at 6:30 pm.
Statistical Leaders (Game)
|Freddy Khouiss||25||135||3 (9, 11, 47)||1|
|Tommy Benson||9||45||1 (4)||1|
|Brad Leech||6||40||1 (2)|
|Marco Soriano||5||31||1 (13)|
|Player||Tackles (For Loss)||Other|
|Marcos Delana||10 (1)||Forced Fumble, INT returned 80 yds for Safety|
|Gabriel Marambio||7 (1)|
|Ryan King||6 (5)||Sack|
|Andrew Asher||6 (1)||Fumble Recovery returned 8 yds|
|Tim Clulow||5 (4)||Sack, 1 Batted Ball|
|Matt Power||5 (3)||Forced Fumble|
|Hugh Delaney||3 (2)||Sack|
|Jamie McGrory||3 (1)|
|Matt Wilson||2 (1)||Forced Fumble|
After being idle for two weeks, the UTS Gators were chompin’ at the bit to get back on the field again. Unfortunately for the Northwestern Predators, they had to face a well-rested Gators team, out for revenge for last year’s upset defeat. The Gators came out hitting, quickly scoring 3 unanswered touchdowns in the 1st quarter and setting a tone of dominance for the rest of the game. The Gators punished the Predators physically on both sides of the ball and with the 36-6 victory, now stand alone at the top of the ladder as the only undefeated team in Gridiron NSW Division 1.
UTS began the game on offense after the opening kickoff sailed through the endzone for a touchback. The Gator offense looked very impressive, putting together a solid 13 play, 65 yard scoring drive, kick-started by a 23 yard pass completion from quarterback Brad Leech to wide receiver Ben Loudon. Power rushing by tailback Freddie Khouiss took UTS down to the Predator’s 6 yard line where alternate tailback, Marco Soriano took over and punched it in for the touchdown. Soriano got the call again for the 2-point conversion attempt and used a crushing lead block by slotback Jim Close to get back into the endzone and put UTS ahead 8-0.
Following a quick 4 and out by the Predators, the Gators took the ball at midfield and put it back in the hands of Freddie Khouiss who took it down to the Predators 26 yard line in 3 plays. QB Brad Leech then went to air and found Ben Loudon again for 26 yards and a touchdown to increase the UTS lead to 14-0.
The Gator defense again shut down the Predators, pushing them back with tackles for loss by defensive ends Matt Power, Tim Clulow and rookie defensive tackle Ryan King and forcing a punt on 4th down. A good punt gave the Gators poor field position on their own 11 yard line but that did not hamper the offense as it put together an 8 play, 79 yard scoring drive, highlighted by two long passes from Leech to wide receiver Nick Giovanangeli, one for 24 yards and another where, after the catch, Giovanangeli juked his way to the endzone for 33 yards and a touchdown.
On the ensuing kickoff, veteran offensive lineman and UTS Gridiron Club President, Matt Steel, came out of retirement to deliver a monster hit on the Predator’s returner at their 30 yard line. The Predators were able to march down the field and score with several long passes in their only effective drive of the day.
UTS answered on their next possession with their fourth consecutive scoring drive. After an 18 yard kickoff return by Justin Fatu-Leota, the Gator offense went 65 yards in 12 plays with most of the work done by RB Freddie Khouiss again, who picked up 41 of his game-high 125 yards. QB Brad Leech capped off the drive with a 5 yard touchdown pass to Justin Fatu-Leota and then bruiser-back, Hamish Holland punched in the 2-point conversion to stretch the UTS lead to 28-6.
The Gator defense got back to their stingy ways and completely shut down the Predators offense for the rest of the game, allowing only one more play of positive yards. Several bone-crushing hits by safety Jamie McGrory, knocking the Predators QB out of the game and linebacker, Andrew Asher, crushing a Northwestern WR just after making a catch across the middle and forcing a fumble that was recovered by McGrory who returned the ball 47 yards to the Predators 13 yard line, along with an interception by linebacker Gabriel Marambio prove the Gators defense is at the top of their game. Following a goal-line stand by the Predators in the 3rd quarter which stopped a Gator drive at the 4 yard line, the UTS defense pushed the Predators back into the endzone, where linebacker, Marcos Delana sacked the quarterback for a safety and 2 more points.
The Gator offense struggled in the second half with several drives stalling but they were able to capitalize on the great field position provided by Jamie McGrory’s 47 yard fumble return. After an offensive penalty threatened to stall the drive, wide receiver, Murray Conallin saved the drive with a tremendous sliding grab on 4th and 17, gaining a first down and putting the ball on the 1 yard line, where RB Freddie Khouiss took over and got the score on the next play, making the final score, UTS 36, Northwestern 6.
Next week sees the UTS Gators face the 5-1 Sutherland Seahawks, coming off of their first loss of the season and who have surprised the league this season with their prolific scoring.
Get on board and come cheer your UTS Gators on to victory this Saturday Night, 18th October, 7:00pm at Kyeemagh RSL.
Statistical Leaders (Game)
|Brad Leech||20/39||253||3 (26, 33, 5)|
|Freddy Prince||23||125||1 (1)|
|Marco Soriano||9||35||1 (5)||1|
|Nick Giovanangeli||2||57||1 (33)|
|Ben Loudon||3||54||1 (26)|
|Justin Fatu-Leota||3||29||1 (5)|
|Player||Tackles (For Loss)||Other|
|Jamie McGrory||6 (3)||Fumble recovery returned 47 yards|
|Matt Power||4 (4)|
|Tim Clulow||3 (3)|
|Ryan King||3 (3)|
|Gabriel Marambio||3 (1)||INT|
|Andrew Asher||3 (1)||Forced Fumble|
|Moey Musawi||3 (1)||2 blocked passes|
|Marcos Delana||2 (1)||Sack for safety|
|Hugh Delaney||2 (1)|
As the Gators headed into their week 5 contest against the 0-3 Northern Sydney Rebels, Head Coach Rocco Bosco was very clear in his message to the team, “We can not afford to take any opponent lightly. These games are danger games.” Following a good week of preparation, the Gators were ready. The Rebels had taken a beating one week earlier in a 62-6 drubbing at the hands of the defending champion Sydney University Lions and despite having several key players out with injuries, they were determined to be giant killers and upset the league leading Gators. Try as they might, the Rebels were no match for the Gators defense, who shut out the Rebels and stole the ball with interceptions and fumble recoveries almost at will. The Gator offense was much more consistent than in past weeks, racking up seven touchdowns. After going into halftime leading 38-0, the Gators put it on cruise control for the second half, taking the victory, 62-0 and keeping the Gators atop the ladder at 5-0.
Gabriel Marambio and Marco Soriano joined permanent captains, Andrew Asher and Tim Clulow for the coin toss, in recognition of their outstanding, unselfish play this season. With Northern Sydney’s depleted numbers and the caliber at which the Gators offense and defense performed through the first quarter, Coach Bosco strategically substituted his second stringers into the game and they didn’t disappoint, particularly on defense with rookies defensive tackle Anders Tracey getting his first career qb sack and cornerback Moey Musawi picking up a clutch interception.
Offensively, the Gators were able to run and pass effectively, with running backs Freddy Prince, Marco Soriano, Tommy Benson and Hamish Holland all picking up big yards on the ground with several scores amongst them and quarterbacks Brad Leech and Peter Tos able to gain good yards through the air including two touchdowns to wide receivers Justin Fatu-Leota (5 yards) and Thomas Granger (30 yards).
After missing the first 3 games of the season, starting running back, Freddy Prince has already made an impact, rushing for 134 yards against the Rebels, and is pleased with the team nature of the Gators play, “This new group is the most talented I’ve been associated with but I also believe it helps with the good veterans, play-makers & coaching staff we have on both sides of the ball. Most definitely you need a good team to win this league not just good individuals and I believe we have the best team in the league.”
Defensively, the Gators stuffed the Rebels, barely allowing any first-downs and keeping them off of the scoreboard completely. With so many stellar performances, including linebacker Marcos Delana running back an interception 16 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, defensive end Tim Clulow and linebacker Andrew Asher forcing the Rebels punter into a safety for 2 points, several interceptions and fumble recoveries and huge yards rushing by Freddy Prince including a 42 yard scamper from the right sideline, cutting back to left sideline then back to the right, following great down-field blocking, it was certainly difficult for the coaching staff to choose an MVP but the honour went to rookie cornerback Tristan Ireland for his lock-down coverage and a tremendously athletic diving interception.
Ireland commented on what it’s like to be a rookie on this year’s team, “The transition [to the new sport] has been pretty smooth actually, due mostly in part to the support from the rest of the defense, namely the secondary. Those guys are constantly in my ear at training and games, instructing and guiding me through all the technical parts of the game, eliminating that heavy learning curve I’d normally face. All the information and technique is laid out by coach Piscioneri and the boys, it’s just a matter of taking that tutelage and fulfilling it.”
Ireland is also impressed with the defense as a unit and is excited for the future, “I think the D-Line up front has been strong. From game 1 against the [Wollongong] Mustangs, those boys have been strong. They’re dogs. They get to the QB, plain and simple. In the recent weeks, the secondary have really started clicking. It’s an area of the field that requires a lot of cohesion, and we’ve really developed that rapport recently, just through time spent with each other. We’re at the point now where we’re playing really tight, and providing a lot of coverage pressure on their offensive line, allowing the dogs up front to get that bone, haha.
With Achilles [FS/LB Jamie McGrory] back on the field, and playing alongside Erhron [Noakes] at safety, I think the best is yet to come. Those boys are leaders, and make it easy to perform well next to, as rookies. I’m not big on stats, but on numbers alone, we’re the strongest defense in the league, and we’ve barely hit our potential. I really can’t wait to face the [Sutherland] Seahawks, who are putting up some big scoring numbers, and shutting them down through all 11 positions.”
Head Coach Bosco, reflected on the season so far, “At the mid-point of the season, it is nice to be sitting on top. Our defense has certainly played up to expectations and is full of menace. Our rookies have been making plays on both sides of the ball and our veterans are running around enjoying football again. There’s a lot of spirit in the squad and that is translating into willingness to work hard for each other.”
Never satisfied with anything less than perfection, Bosco takes a realistic look ahead, “Beating the Pirates [in week 3] was an obvious highlight of the season thus far but we’ll need to make significant improvements to match that result when we play them again in the post-season. We have many challenges ahead of us in what remains of the season. [Our next few games] we face an improving Predators, a resurgent Seahawks, the hard-fighting Sharks, the potentially explosive Raiders and the powerhouse Lions. Our defense will need to maintain its dominance and our sometimes sputtering offense will need to find a combination of consistency and rhythm to maintain our top spot.”
Next week sees the UTS Gators get a much needed rest with a scheduled bye, followed by a league bye for the holiday long weekend.
The Gators next face the 3-2 Northwestern Predators on Saturday, October 11th at 5 Sports in Caringbah at 7:00 pm. Come show your support and cheer your Gators on to victory.
Statistical Leaders (Game)
|Brad Leech||8/15||148||2 (30, 5)||1|
|Freddy Prince||15||134||2 (3, 7)||3|
|Tommy Benson||9||68||1 (6)||1|
|Hamish Holland||7||37||1 (6)||1|
|Justin Fatu-Leota||3||13||1 (7)|
|Will Newnham||1 Fumble Recovery||39|
|Thomas Granger||3||91||1 (30)|
|Justin Fatu-Leota||2||39||1 (5)|
|Player||Tackles (For Loss)||Other|
|Marcos Delana||7 (3)||1 INT returned 14 yards for TD|
|Andrew Asher||5 (4)||Fumble Forced and Recovered|
|Erhron Noakes||3 (1)||Fumble Forced and Recovered|
|Matthew Power||2 (2)||2 blocked passes|
|Gabriel Marambio||2 (1)||Forced Fumble, Sack|
|Anders Tracey||1 (1)||Sack|
|Hugh Delaney||1 (1)||Sack|
With the 2014 Gridiron NSW Women’s season set to kickoff in a short 2 weeks, the UTS Lady Gators have been training hard in hopes of improving on their 3rd place finish last season. Preseason started in early June with plenty of new players coming down to try out the latest women’s sport. With only a handful of players returning from 2013, it has been a busy preseason with the whole team starting back at the basics and building on that. New players have come from a lot of different sports including soccer, basketball, rugby league and union as well as players who have watched the game on TV, have relatives who play in the men’s team or heard about it through friends.
Head Coach, Tiffany Bosco is excited to see how the team goes this season. “With the loss of some big players from last year, we will be looking to build on our rookies coming through. It will be a season of learning as we go and improving every week. We have a bunch of new rookies who will be a huge asset to the team and the players returning from last year will be able to help push them along.” Missing out on the Opal Bowl (championship game) last year because of a game being rained-out and unable to be rescheduled, left the Lady Gators with a bitter taste in their mouth and they are looking to even the score this year and leave no doubt that they should be at the top.
Returning player, Joana Malolo, voted 2013 UTS Women’s player’s player, had this to say about this year’s team, “The 2014 UTS female gridiron team have heart, determination, resilience and the ability to laugh about our mistakes and to strive for perfection.”
Taking a look at each positional group:
Quarterbacks: With one returning QB from last year and a rookie stepping up, this season will see both QBs sharing the load. Both QBs offer great skills in different areas and will be utilized for their strengths.
Running Backs: A lot of rookies means we will have quite a bit of depth in the RB position.
Receivers: This is the position where a lot of the players are returning from last season. Their experience will help when tough catches need to be made.
Offensive and Defensive Line: Another position with players returning from last year as well as some impressive rookies. Strong offensive line means there will be big gaps for the RBs and good protection for the QBs.
Linebackers: Rookies with speed. Having lost our linebackers from 2013, it will be a big learning curve for the rookies who will have to step up.
Defensive Backs: A good mix of returning players and rookies in the defensive backfield this season. They will need to learn from each other the get the job done.
Levini Tuipulotu, a player returning from last year, excited for the 2014 season, had this to say, “It’s been a very long preseason. Finally, the season is almost here. I can’t wait til the season kicks off and I get to play alongside our rookies.” Levini was one of 8 UTS players who represented NSW in the inaugural NSW Coyotes team that played in the National Women’s Gridiron Tournament held earlier this year and competed against QLD and ACT.
One of the rookies, Rebecca Baldin, has been watching gridiron in NSW for years and finally decided to try it out for herself. “I’m super excited for the season to start. The team has been working really hard in the preseason and we’re ready to play football!” She also had this to say regarding being a first year player, “The team and coaches have been really welcoming and it’s been really fun learning a new sport.” Baldin will be a huge contributor on both sides of the ball, playing both quarterback and linebacker.
The Lady Gators begin their campaign against the Bondi Lady Raiders on Friday 10th October, 2014 at 7:00pm at the hockey fields on Brittania Street, Pennant Hills.
Come on down and support your UTS Lady Gators in their run to the 2014 Opal Bowl.