21 July 2013
Still stinging from the pounding we took from the Roosters last week, the team boarded the bus at the field house at 9:30AM. We we setting forth on our longest road trip of the year to play the Indians Kouvola. So, on the schedule they appear just as I typed that – “Indians Kouvola.” However, they are in the town of Kouvola so I will just call them the Indians. Kickoff was scheduled for 6PM and it was our third televised game in a row. We had yet to get a win on TV.
We arrived early about 3:30PM after various stops along the way, some of which were to gather up other players. We had a team dinner at a place that was not a 24-hour ABC rest stop. The name of the place escapes me but the buffet was great. It consisted of creamed chicken breasts, bread, salad, scalloped potatoes, and vegetables. I passed on the ice cream, regrettably. There was a bit of rain during the trip but by the time we got there that had pretty much passed.
The surface for this game was natural and in great shape. They had a very nice stadium with covered bleachers running the length of the home side and open bleachers running the length of the visitor’s side. The locker rooms (shared) were very close and afforded us to go back inside prior to kickoff and at halftime.
So the Indians came into this game with a 3 and 2 win-loss record and we were 2 and 3. For us, this was a must win game and we had been treating it as a playoff situation all week. The Indians had acquired a new running back for their previous game named Thomas Addison. In last week’s matchups, Addison had racked up over 214 yards in 14 carries against the Wolverines who pretty much shut our offense down during our second half against them. Addison had good moves and good speed. He played his college ball at a Division II school named Shepard University in West Virginia. Addison would be our main concern defensively.
We had no tapers with us so it fell upon me to tape about 10 ankles. I had become aware that taping is increasingly harder on my back as I get older. By the time I was done the pain was there and the sweat was dripping. The locker room felt like a sauna.
We got through the warmups, introductions and the coin flip. We won the toss and Crawford took the opening kick 32 yards to set us up nicely in Indian territory on the 45 yard line. We put together a nice 12-play scoring drive that was highlighted by a fourth and 4 yard conversion around the Indian 30 yard line. The drive was controlling and run-oriented with just two pass attempts. We attempted a 2-point conversion and bungled the snap – it failed. Crocs 6 and Indians nothing.
The defense took the field after the kick and started off with a personal foul penalty for 15 yards. Not the way to start. The Indians got well into our territory mainly on the back of Addison but we held on the 11 yard line with a good stop on downs. We would take over there.
We put together a couple good runs by Crawford and then turned the ball over near mid-field when Ville, our backup running back, took a nasty hit. First turnover of the game. Indians take over on their 39 yard line.
The defense forced a three and out punt to pretty much end the First Quarter with the score remaining Crocs 6 and Indians nothing.
After completing a nice short pass for 8 yards, we suffered a string of formation penalties that were a mystery to us. Apparently, there was an issue with our wideout to the far side being on or off the line of scrimmage. Typically, a receiver will communicate through standard hand signals to the sideline judge to confirm whether he is on or off the line as needed. Our receiver was doing this but had not gotten any confirmations from the sideline official. So, we got nailed two times in a row for having too many players in the backfield. These penalties pretty much killed the drive and we were forced to punt.
The punt was a good one and was downed at the 15 yard line of the Indians. On the third play of the Indian drive, Addison bumbled the handoff on a run up the middle and the ball was loose. We recovered the ball with great field position on their 24 yard line. Two plays later, we were in for our second score. This time we kicked the point after and it was good. Crocs 13 and Indians nothing.
The Indians next series consisted of a mix of short gains aided by a few penalties of our own. We had a golden opportunity for an interception early in the drive when we forced a lame duck pass from their quarterback. However, we let the ball drop between our waiting safety and corner. It was a classic miscommunication you would see in a youth baseball game where two fielders don’t know who is going to take the popped up ball.
We had a second shot at it though down in our territory on another poor pass under pressure. This time our safety Thomas grabbed the interception for our second turnover. Croc ball on our five yard line.
The elation was short-lived, however, as Brown turned around and threw a pick of his own on the very first play of the series. The defense held, though, and they gave up the ball in downs to us.
We took the ball on our 40 yard line and in five rushing plays we were in the endzone. The point after was blocked. We led the game 19 to nothing with 50 seconds to go in the First Half. Thus far, we had been dictating the pace of the game and were in full control.
Normal behaviour for a defense in this situation is to play good positional defense and prevent anything stupid from happening. You basically want to keep the offense in front of you here because the opponent has a long ways to go (59 yards in this case) with very little time remaining. Somehow we got excited and took some bad angles and missed a couple tackles and Addison was dancing around in the endzone for a score. I was not real happy at this point. We did block the point after so it was Crocs 19 and Indians 6 with a bit of time on the clock.
We managed a couple plays on offense with one being a false start. The refs signalled the end of the half and we headed for the locker room. I got a chance to blow off some steam with the defense in our own little room just to ourselves. I made it pretty clear that was a bonehead way to end a good half and we would not be doing that again in that particular situation. One of the key components to a football game is momentum. And we had just given that to them right before the second half. And, they would be receiving the ball to start the Third Quarter.
The Indians started the quarter on their own 27 yard line. Runs of 51 (Addison), 16, 3, and 3 (all Pervis) got them into the endzone quickly to start the quarter. Now we had a game again after having them down 19 to zero. The kick was good so it was Crocs 19 and Indians 13. All the life and excitement was now on the home side of the field.
We took the kick and started on our own 32 yard line. We got ourselves into punting situation and lined up to kick. The snap, however, was bad and skipped late into Rodney’s hands. He saw an opening to the right and took it for 22 yards to convert the fourth down. That play was a momentum swinger. Five plays later, Rodney hit Crawford for a touchdown pass. One play in particular stood out in the drive after this point. It was a third and seven situation. Brown hit Makinen on a short post pattern to the right. Makinen made a great leaping fingertip grab to get the first down. The point after failed again. Crocs 25 and Indians 13.
We kicked off deep and the Indians didn’t get much of a return. They would begin play on their own 11 yard line. The Indians picked up a first down with a pass but then BJ Bell took over. He had a huge 11-yard sack that set up the drive to end with a punt, which it did. Then, Bell split a seam and got a block on the kick to give the Crocs the ball on the Indian 20 yard line. Rodney connected with Blair Gordon for 20 yards and we scored. The point after was good – Crocs 32 and Indians 13. We had wrestled the momentum back to our sideline.
With 2:30 left in the Third Quarter, the Indians took over on their own 39 yard line. The Indians found themselves with a fourth down and short on their 48 and they went for it. They converted with a short pass for five yards. Two false start penalties, a rushing loss and two incomplete passes, however, set them up with a fourth and 22 to go on their own 41. They again decided to go for it. Bell logged another big sack again for 11 yards. Crocs ball on the Indian 30 early in the Fourth Quarter.
Crocs started with the ball on the Indian 30 yard line. A few plays later, aided by a personal foul on the Indians, Crawford was in the endzone again. The point after was good and it was Crocs 39 and the Indians 13.
The Indians took the kick and had a good return to mid-field. After an incomplete pass, the Indian QB threw into the waiting arms of Stacey Thomas our safety who gathered it in for his second interception. This time Stacey had room to run. He picked up some key blocks and returned the pick for 57 yards and a touchdown. We converted on the 2-pt play and had a good lead at 39 to 13.
After the kickoff, the Indians were forced to punt with a three-and-out on their next series. We took over on our 29 yard line and manage to get to our 48 before having to punt. The punt was short and as Addison rushed up to receive it, he came up short and it bounced off his fingertips. The ball was grabbed by the Crocs – first down. We failed to capitalize and turned the ball over on downs with only 16 seconds remaining. A zone read play to the right with the Indian quarterback keeping the ball ended the game. Final score – Crocs 47 and Indians 13.
It is amazing how much more fun a long trip is when you have the taste of victory rather than defeat. We had a couple stops on the way home to eat and drop players off. Finally, we rolled into Seinäjoki about 3:30 in the morning. I had locked my bike in the dressing room for safety without realizing that the place would be locked up for the night. So, I made the mile-long trip home on foot carrying my little red bag reliving the game in the cool Finnish morning.
Here are some useful links on the game:
Article from gridiron.fi