The Knights hosted the Nottingham Caesars on Sunday 17th August, in front of a Farnham Knights 30th Anniversary crowd, knowing nothing but a win would keep their post season hopes alive. After losing away to the Caesars 12-31 earlier in the season on May 22nd, and with many players absent, this was a tough test.
The Caesars kicked off to the Knights, but it wasn’t until Farnham’s second offensive possession did things start to click for the home side. Starting on their own 20 yard line, the Knight’s put on and impressive drive, mixing the run and pass to great effect. Inside the Caesars 10 yard line the ball was handed off to Tom Schoen, who gladly followed his downfield blocks to open the scoring. The extra point kick by Nathan McLaughlin was good and the Knights led 07-00. It didn’t take long for the Caesars to strike back, 3 plays in fact, as Knights poor tackling and great Caesars running took the ball in for a 70 yard touchdown. The 2 point conversion was good and the score quickly changed to Knights 07 Caesars 08.
The Knights next drive in the second quarter stalled and the Caesars started a long drive of their own. Great run plays were the key for the Caesars and, helped by Knights penalties, they were soon knocking on the door. Just as the Knights defence seemed to have stopped the Caesars QB with great pressure, he flipped up a pass which was caught and their receiver juked his way into the Knights endzone for the touchdown. This time the 2 point attempt failed but the Caesars had increased their lead to 07-14. Now the Knights needed a quick response and 4 plays later they had as Jamie Anker’s pass was caught by Gavin Dyall who followed his blocks down the sideline for a great 80 yard touchdown play. The Knights 2 point attempt failed, so they now trailed 13-14. Now the Knights defence needed to be strong. The Caesars offence however had other ideas, and going for it on 3rd down and long their QB threw the deep ball over the Knights defender for another long passing touchdown. The 2 points were converted and the Caesars increased their lead at the half to 13-22.
The Knights coaches now pointed out the positives and installed the belief back in the young Knights that very quickly the 2 score deficit could be overcome. With the already depleted squad, injuries and heat the task had got greater but the intensity and belief hadn’t changed.
Things started well for the Knights defence, forcing the Caesars to punt after 3 plays. The Knights offence got to work and put together a long time consuming drive. With great running by backs Tom Schoen and Sas Sarreshteh, as they followed their offensive line’s blocks, they were in Caesars territory. The Caesars defence held firm when it mattered though and also stepped up to block the Knights 3 point field goal attempt. Another 3 and out followed for the Caesars as the Knights defence showed just how well they can tackle. The Knights offence took over at midfield as time expired in the 3rd quarter with no change to the score of 13-22.
The Knights edged closer to the Caesars endzone and the drive was kept alive by a key pass interference penalty in the endzone against Nottingham. With the ball at the 1 yard line Tom Schoen duly ran in his second touchdown of the day and Charlie Knight caught the 2 point conversion to make the score Knights 21 Caesars 22 early in the 4th quarter. The Knights, looking to keep the momentum, went for an onside kick. The Caesars managed to recover though and had great field position to respond. Yet it was the Knights defence and Tome Schoen again who responded to intercept the Caesars QB and return the ball to their 25 yard line. The Knights offence went straight to the endzone but the pass was agonisingly dropped. The misfortune continued with a Knights penalty and a big sack by the Caesars defence to give the ball back to their offence. The Knights defence were also in a determined mood, forcing the Caesars to punt again after 3 plays. Up stepped the Knights special teams and Sas Sarreshteh who blocked the Caesars punt and recovered it at their 30 yard line. The Caesars defence held firm, but the Knights offence went for it on 4th down and 8 inside the Caesars redzone and were gifted with another Caesars pass interference for a 1st down and goal. It took Jamie Anchor just one more play to hit Charlie Knight for the touchdown and, despite the failed 2 point conversion, the Knights now led for the first time since the 1st quarter 27-22. The Knights recovered the fumbled kickoff but the Caesars defence got the ball back for their offence deep in their own half. Up stepped Sas Sarreshteh again for another big impact play. With the Caesars QB looking to respond quickly with the pass, Sas sacked the QB and the ball popped up into the chest of Nathan McLaughlin who sprinted in the remaining 10 yards untouched for the defensive touchdown. The 2 point conversion pass to Charlie Knight was good and the Knights had increased their lead now to 35-22. Looking to score again and reclaim the head to head advantage over the Caesars, the Knights went for the onside kick again. The Caesars front line recovered the kick and 2 plays later the Caesars QB found his deep threat for another passing touchdown. A successful 2 point conversion run closed the gap to Knights 35 Caesars 30. With less than a minute to play the Caesars went for their own onside kick, but the ball never travelled the required 10 yards and all the Knights offence had to do was kneel out the game to secure the victory.
Afterwards Head Coach Nic Budd thanked all his players for the titanic effort and victory against all the odds. The Farnham Knights Juniors now travel to play the Birmingham Lions on Saturday 30th July, hoping to overturn another previous loss. A victory sees Farnham enter the post season, whilst a loss will likely see Nottingham take their place. If Farnham continue with this level of intensity and drive from all its players, including offensive lineman MVP Isaac Raine and defensive standout MVP Tom Schoen, then they will have no fear going into the playoffs