Rangers Colts Play in Second Straight Thriller
The Jetmaster Heat & Glo Croydon Rangers Stuart Thompson Landscapes Colts found themselves travelling to Melton in their second clash of the season against the Geelong Buccaneers. Both teams recorded opening wins in their first contest the previous week and the fantastic weather conditions that greeted the teams set the scene for what would be a grinding game of football.
The return of incumbent starting Quarterback Tom Veale was bitter sweet, with a number of exclusions at receiver through injury and other commitments. Regardless, the Rangers came to play, and after losing the toss were given the ball to start proceedings. The opening drive saw the combination of Tom Veale, Tom Taylor and James Dall drive deep into the Buccaneers territory.
The Wildcat offense proved yet again confusing, terrifying and stalling a bewildered defence. However a broken play on 4th and short saw the Rangers unable to capitalise on what had been a dominating drive. Turning the ball over on downs, the Rangers defence immediately went to work. Rising sophomore Declan O’Carroll on the defensive line, Jaxon Tiziani and rookie sensation middle linebacker Macleod “Mullet” Kayne all provided immense pressure forcing the Buccaneers to punt the ball on 4th down from their own endzone. The subsequent high snap, out the back of the endzone, saw the Rangers take the lead on a safety.
The game was set for a defensive struggle with both the Rangers and Buccaneers defence setting the tone in the first half. The Rangers found themselves behind after a clutch play by the Geelong WR (#7), running a crisp drag route across the field catching the Rangers on an all-out blitz, resulting in an 80 yard TD completion.
It didn’t take long for the Rangers to answer back and in the second quarter the combination of a grinding run game and a potent aerial assault by the Rangers saw them camped at the 15 yard line and knocking on the Buccaneers door. The Rangers converted on third down, as #19 James Dall continued his performance from last week. Back home at receiver instead of tucked in at Quarterback, Dall effortlessly floated through the secondary to arrive unabated in the end zone to register the six off the arm of QB Veale. Rising rookie #18 Tom “Calves” Taylor ran over the Geelong front five to convert the two point.
Geelong rallied and the subsequent drive saw Geelong punch in another touchdown before both teams went three and out respectively. The final drive saw an epic goal line stand lead by Middle Linebacker Fawlo Apai, and the Rangers held Geelong on their goal line as the half closed with the Rangers down 14-10.
Geelong started the second half and on their first play of the second half the Rangers secondary were exposed as yet again number as WR #7 from Geelong streaked through for another 80 yard touchdown. With the two point conversion no good, the score was now 20-10.
The remainder of the second half was hit and miss for both sides as the rangers tried to grind themselves back into the contest. Missing three receivers, the Rangers secondary were brought in to offer more offensive options. However the Rangers failed to capitalise on good field position with a number of failed Red Zone sequences, dropped catches, and a costly interception in the end zone.
As the fourth quarter opened both sides offensive coordinators were close to being institutionalised as their units failed to convert 3rd downs. The Rangers managed to string together two consecutive first downs to put them in range with 7:00 minutes left in the quarter. The burden of responsibility firmly on Quarterback Tom Veale with a tiring O-Line, he reminded all of Gridiron Victoria what is “Clutch Play”. Scrambling to the left on a three step drop an unlikely hero drifted open on a busted route. Starting cornerback #1 Nick “More More” Moore drifted free in the end zone. Veale lasered the pass and Nick Moore swallowed the ball to record only his second reception, and first ever touchdown, as a Ranger. The ensuing 2 point failed and the Rangers trailed 20-16.
The game continued with it’s previous theme of failed 3rd down conversions, with the defence fighting to contain the Bucc’s, and the Rangers offence desperately trying to hit their mark. However after an injury delay the Buccaneers closed out the game on the ground, opting to continue to run the ball right to the end of the whistle.
For the Rangers the defence stood proud with Dane Franic at cornerback earning his nickname “Dane Island”, Fawlo Apai, Declan O’Carroll, Macleod Kayne and Tarquin Henderson standing out. Offensively the Rangers welcome the return of key personnel for week three as the team go up against the as yet undefeated Predators in Berwick on Sunday at 10:30am.