American Football team, the UWE Bullets, faced their cross-town rivals Bristol University on Sunday 12 February in the opening match of the highly anticipated ‘Varsity Series’.

The 3pm kick off was held at Clifton College, Beggars Bush Astroturf as a Bristol University home fixture. The game was organised well. The pitch was marked perfectly. There was a play-by-play commentary and half-time cheerleader shows from the UWE Comets and the Bristol Jets. Hot food and drinks were available through the game while the two University squads were battling for the Steve Jones Varsity Trophy.

The UWE Bullets had never lost to their cross-town rivals and with their unbeaten season on the line they had no intention on this time being the first. The Bristol Barracuda won the toss and took the ball only to meet the brick wall that is the run defence for the Bullets. They could only gain four yards and had to punt the ball. The Bullets’ offense came out firing. They drove the whole length of the field on ten plays with runs from five different backs as well as a long completion from rookie Quarter Back JJ Davies, to team captain and President Dayne Robinson. The drive ended with an aggressive power run from five yards out from Sam Atakorah for the opening score. The extra point was scored by Robinson and the UWE Bullets led 7-0 at the end of the first quarter.

The UWE Bullets’ offense went to work again with a second ten play drive. However, this drive fell short when the ‘Cuda’s’ defence stepped up and the Bullets tried their second long field goal attempt of the game. Robinson smashed through the posts from the 38 yard line to make the score 10-0.  The following drive was a nightmare for the Cuda’s offense with the Bullets’ defence really brining the pressure. The drive ended with them facing a fourth and 37 from their own two yard line. A short punt led to great field position for the Bullets’ Offense to really turn the screw. The drive lasted only one play with a great individual pick from the Cuda’s defence in the endzone to give their offense the ball on the 20 yard line.

Inspired by the turn-over the Cuda’s offense finally got moving. They drove the ball on a seven play drive all the way into the Bullets’ red-zone. However, the ‘bend don’t break’ Bullets’ defence held strong. Even after the Cuda’s offense decided to go for it on  fourth down and eight, only to have the pass batted down by Left Back, James Oddy. On the very next drive the rookie QB JJ took no time to drive the field on two passing plays that went 63 yards for the score. The first was a long completion to Robinson for 51 yards, and then the very next play hit rookie Ryan Morton in the back of the endzone for a 12 yard touchdown. The extra point was good, this time by Tom Miles. The score line was 17-0 with not a lot of time left in the half, but long enough for the Cuda to break the 17 quarter shut out from the UWE Bullets defence. With just one play they went 54 yards by Michael McDowell for a touchdown to end the half at 17-6.

The third quarter was all defence with neither team really gaining many yards. The Bullets’ offense got a few first downs, but also fumbled the ball a few times, whereas the Cuda offense struggled to get any first downs. The quarter flew past and ended with no points scored.

The fourth quarter brought a little more excitement for the 500 pairs of eyes watching the local rivalry. The UWE Bullets very first fourth quarter drive started at their own 25 yard line. They drove all the way into the endzone on eight plays all on the ground with rookie Running Back, Jamiel Tinto, driving the ball the length of the field and finishing it off with a great inside powerful run from eleven yards out. The extra point was missed and the score line was 23-6.  The defence added two more points with a safety from veteran Mark Sanchez to make the score 25-6.

With not much time left on the clock, the UWE Bullets brought on their back-up players. The Cuda took the advantage of this with a great ten play drive that started on their six yard line to score an eight yard touchdown pass to the back corner of the endzone by Michael McDowell.

The game ended with the UWE Bullets line-man carry, which this year was won by Robert Chase and went for two yards. The final whistle blew and the final 2012 Steve Jones Varsity score was UWE 25 – Bristol Barracuda 12. The SAJ Varsity Trophy was awarded to the UWE Bullets’ president Dayne Robinson, and the game day MVP was awarded to UWE Bullets rookie Running Back, Jamiel Tinto, for his 14 carries for 84 yards and a touchdown.

The UWE Bullets would like to thank the Bristol Barracuda for the great event and for a good game. They would also like to thank the UWE Comets for their continued support, and photographers Jeff Stanford, and the WesternEye.

By Dayne Robinson