Game 7 – vs. Seahawks at Kyeemagh

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.

RB Tommy Benson

Rookie RB Tommy Benson breaks a tackle

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.

DT Matt Wilson

DT Matt Wilson forces fumble

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)

Player Comp/Att Yards TD 2-PT INT
Brad Leech 11/26 109 0 1 2
Player Rushes Yards TD (yards) 2-point
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 Receptions Yards TD (yards) 2-PT
Nick Giovanangeli 1 35
Thomas Granger 5 34 1
Ben Loudon 2 13
Kick Return:
Player Returns Yards
Freddie Khouiss 3 52
Matt Wilson 1 8
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
Moey Musawi 4
Hugh Delaney 3 (2) Sack
Jamie McGrory 3 (1)
Jason Felsch 3
Kevin Zaw 3
Matt Wilson 2 (1) Forced Fumble
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