Game Report: Round 4
In the second face off of the season between the 121 Financial Jacksonville Axemen and the Atlanta Rhinos, the Axemen showed some significant improvements since the loss to them in Round 1. The Axemen started off the game with two early tries from Pio Vatuvei and newly returned Michael Scott. Sam Dickey was good for both conversions bringing the score to 12-0 Axemen in the lead.
The momentum swung in the Rhinos favor when they capitalized off an Axemen turnover and scored off that, followed by a second try (conversion was good for only the second try) and the gap closed to 12-10.
Before the half the Axemen broke free with two tries from David Washington, first conversion was good from Perry Vaught, and Sam Dickey was good for his third kick of the day to give the Axemen a nice lead of 24-10 going into the halftime break.
Starting into the second half, the Rhinos received the ball and started what was a nightmare of a quarter for the Axemen. The Rhinos took complete control of the game and scored 5 tries to not only close in on the Axemen but took a convincing lead of 40-24.
Jacksonville regained their composure and started making some forward progress. The momentum shifted back to the Axemen and they scored two tries from Kennedy Girox and John Hamilton. Sam Dickey was good for both conversions, making it his 5th of the day.
This is when the fans were really on the edge of their seats. The Axemen were just feet from the try line under the posts had all the potential to score the game winning try, when time ran out an the referee blew the last whistle. Final score was 40 to 36 and the Rhinos remained undefeated.
It was an unfortunate end to a roller coaster game where the Axemen seemed to be their own worst enemy. “Once again we got off to a good start,” said Coach Sean Rutgerson. “Then just after halftime we had a lapse and they ran through us like we weren’t there. We switched back on again and started playing but we weren’t able to close the gap. I am really happy with the effort and am really happy for the new guys that all played, I thought they went really good. We made it hard on ourselves though when we miss 35 tackles and only complete 8 sets in each half.”
“This has been a rough season for us injury wise,” says Drew Slover, Axemen Co-Founder and General Manager. “We’re not trying to make excuses, it’s just a reality. Rutcho has put a lot of new players on the field this season, and we’ve been impressed with how quickly they have adapted to the game. We are looking forward to coming back following the bye week after the players heal up a bit and we work on fixing some mistakes. Our sights are still on the National Championship, and we know we can get there.”
All teams are on a bye this weekend and the Axemen will travel to Tampa on July 8th in a redemption match against the Mayhem. The next home game is July 15th against the Central Florida Warriors.
Photo Credit: Lisa Volpe