Friday, July 2, 2010

Game #2: Hanau Hornets vs. Darmstadt Diamonds

Before I get into the action, here is some background leading up to the game: In the week prior to the battle with the Diamonds, the Hornets had our usual two practices (Tuesday and Thursday) and both went pretty well despite a low turnout. All of the players have jobs and most have families, which lead to obvious time conflicts with Hornet’s practices, but we made do with those who were present. The wide receivers and I worked on our timing, and they seem like they are starting to get used to playing with a QB who throws a bit harder than they are accustomed.

Unfortunately our best defensive player, a LB nicknamed “Fussi”, will not be able to make the Sunday game, and Darmstadt is known for their rushing attack. Our game will be my first home game at the Hornet’s stadium, but unfortunately, Germany will be playing England on the same day, at the same time. And for the Yanks reading this blog, Germany vs. England in anything, let alone the World Cup, is a pretty big deal around these parts. So needless to say, I was not expecting a capacity crowd for my home opener, despite a few back page newspaper articles featuring the Hornet’s new QB the week leading up to the game (and I do mean back-page).

The game was scheduled for a 3:30pm kickoff, but I arrived at the stadium around 11:30am to get warmed up, mentally prepare, etc, etc. As I’m wandering around the stadium, getting acclimated to my surroundings, I notice that at the concessions stand, in addition to the German beer, there is hard liquor being offered, including Jack Daniels. I can’t even imagine the sorry state of student sections at the Carrier Dome, and elsewhere around the country, if college stadiums started serving Jack Daniels at football games! The thought made me laugh out loud (lol for you text-aholics).

The game began with the Diamonds opting to receive the ball, and our defense promptly forcing a punt. Our offense then marched the ball downfield with numerous “pitch and catches” between myself and Torrance on the sidelines. The drive ended with a 12 yard scramble into the endzone for a TD from yours truly, but unfortunately, our kicking woes continued and we missed the extra point. Next, there were punts exchanged by both teams, but the Hornets would soon start to use their stinger. Our young WR, Rene, who was just “called up” from the youth team a few weeks before, started finding the open spaces between the safeties in Darmstadt’s Cover 2 defensive scheme. Translation: Rene started getting wide open. Between Rene’s big catch and runs, Torrance’s short routes, and the QB draws, the Hornets offense could not be slowed down. Halftime Score: Hornets 24, Darmstadt 6.

Everybody was extremely pumped up and excited as we could taste the 1st victory of the year! But Darmstadt was not a team who would go away very easily. Coming out of halftime, we decided to run a formation/play that we did not run all game, thinking it would catch Darmstadt off guard, but it instead caught me off guard more than anyone else, and I threw my first interception of the season. Darmstadt’s coaches must have noticed a weak spot in our defense because they continually ran off-tackle straight into the endzone without batting an eyelid a few plays later. Our offense responded well to the interception and quick score by Darmstadt, and took the ball straight downfield into the endzone. After that score, we had 32 points, and Darmstadt had about 21. But Darmstadt’s run game could not be stopped, and they rattled off 2 unanswered touchdowns, en route to racking up a whopping 362 rushing yards over the course of the game! And we certainly did not help ourselves, as we were penalized about 190 yards through the course of the game!

I am not usually one to complain about the referees publicly or privately, but they certainly cost us a lot in this game and after watching the film a few days later, my feelings were validated. So just to put things in perspective as to why I am writing about this subject: In the 2nd half alone they neglected to call a defensive holding which cost us a TD, they called a ghost offensive pass interference which cost us a TD, and they neglected to call a defensive pass interference which caused me to throw an interception as opposed to a 20 yard completion. Now that I got that off of my chest....the bottom line is that you should never leave a game in the hands of the referees, and we could have soundly won the game if we came out stronger and more focused in the 2nd half.

But back to the game: With about 3 minutes to go, Darmstadt is leading 37-32, and has the ball. They are on their 25 yard line and for some strange reason, decide to pass the ball. Darmstadt has been killing us on the ground and Darmstadt’s QB is about 2-10 with 1 INT to that point in the game, and luckily for us, he decides to throw his second INT. This leaves our offense with about 60 yards to the endzone with about 3 minutes on the clock. We decide to try to get the ball to Torrance on the outside, and begin running 15 yard comeback routes to get him close to the sideline, so that he can stop the clock after he makes a catch. This works to perfection as Darmstadt’s corners are scared to get beat deep and play 10 yards off of Torrance which allows us to gain 15 yards at a time and stop the clock. We march the ball down to our 5 yard line and run an out route to Torrance in the endzone, and he makes a great catch and extends the ball over the pylon for the go-ahead TD with 45 seconds to go! We then go for two and convert a QB run to put the score at Hornets 40, Diamonds 37.

At this point our offense can only watch as Darmstadt marches into their own territory. It is at this point that I am informed that there is no overtime in the GFL and if they elect to kick a field goal (their kicker had been on point all game), the game would end in a tie. A tie?!?! I think a tie might be worse than losing!! A tie is like being stuck in Purgatory, not really knowing where you stand or where you’re going next!! I MIGHT (emphasize “might”) rather lose than TIE a football game!! But Darmstadt elects to do the right thing and go for the endzone from the 15 yard line with 5 seconds left. They try a fade route to the corner of the endzone, and our corner defends it perfectly and the pass floats innocently to the ground. THE HORNETS WON THE PENNANT! THE HORNETS WON THE PENNANT! Well…not quite, but it was the first win of the year after a dismal and miserable 0 and 6 start. Players and coaches alike were overcome with joy and a few even shed some tears. There were hugs all around after a very hard fought game, and to make things even better, Germany pounded England 4-1 in the World Cup Game (they had been giving the fans and players updates throughout our game over the loudspeaker). It was not a pretty game with all of the penalties and letting Darmstadt back into the game, but we did prove that we can score on even tough defenses, and we can even band together to comeback and WIN a game! After the game, most of the players headed for the concession stand to get some grub and pound some German beer to celebrate the win. Everybody was pretty much dead after such a long and hard fought game, and it being a Sunday with work in the a.m., people started filing home after an hour or two. I can not remember being that tired after a game, and after I saw the official stats, I under stood why: We ran 86 plays on offense! For those not familiar with football play counts, 86 is a ton! A game with a very good offense would probably have about 65-70 plays run in a given game. Also, it was pushing 90 deg, which certainly added to the exhaustion. So off to bed I was after a long, hard fought, great day with the Hanau Hornets!

Notable Stats (give or take a few yards; this is from memory after the game):
-Torrance Brown: 220 receiving yards 5 TD Catches
-Hanau Hornets: 190 penalty yards
-Hanau Hornets: 86 plays run on offense
-Darmstadt Diamonds: 362 Rushing Yards
-Andrew Robinson: 15 rushes 140 yards 1 TD, 56 passing attempts 385 yards 5 TD’s 1 INT (yes I said 1 INT, I think my coach slid the statistician a couple Euro’s to take the 2nd one off of the books, but the official stats said 1, so that’s what I’m going with here)
- And Most Importantly: Hanau Hornets: 1st Win of the Year!!

Pictured Below is a Handmade Voodoo Doll of an English soccer player, which was placed in the window of our locker room by one of our players:

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