Statesboro, Georgia – Last weekend, twenty-seven brave souls traveled 11 hours to Statesboro, Georgia to take on Georgia Southern. Southern, known for its hard running forwards and big backs, was prepared to play this match. Memphis also came prepared to play with a new game plan of fluid phase play and positional kicking. Unfortunately for all involved, the weather turned foul the day of the match and we kicked off with the temperature at 43 degrees and winds at 35 miles per hour straight down the pitch. The team with the wind had a definite advantage in field position and Georgia had the hill and the wind the first half.
Memphis kicked off and Southern immediately put the ball into the wind and over the heads of the wingers. We were back against our goal line in two plays. At the 2 minute mark, Southern plowed over from a 5 meter scrum to draw first blood. The Tigers fought up the hill time and time again only to give up the ball and watch Southern kick out of trouble. It was a tremendous battle and the wind and hill proved too much trouble. By the half, the Tigers were down 36-0.
But, now we get the hill. And the hill proved to be a great asset. Within the first few minutes of the second half Josiah Shipley broke free and put the Tigers on the board. Phil Elliott scored the next points and Kasra Koleini took the conversion.
The strategy that seemed to work was to work the ball wide, keeping the defense stretched, and when they were too flat, to kick over their heads. This led to Cameron breaking free for a score. Phil took the conversion.
Georgia Southern could feel the momentum shift and smartly kept the ball in their hands. They slowly and methodically kept the ball in their hands, working up the hill. The Tigers were desperate to get back on offense and put in some fresh legs. However, Southern demonstrating excellent ball control made it all the way up the hilll and took another try.
John Elmore took the final points for the Tigers on a nice open field run. Kyle Baker converted to give the Tigers 26 points on the day. This was the most points the tigers had scored in a conference match this season, but it was not enough to take the match. Southern won the day 41-26.
At kick-off for the “B” match, the temperature was below 30 and the wind continued to blow. A decision was made to play two 15 minute halves. The weather was brutal.
The Tiger B’s proved tough again, scoring their first points up hill. Josiah took the points on a nice long run. In the second half the Tigers used the hill to their advantage and scored in quick succession. Kyle lifted the ball in the air and August Myers caught it on the hop… taking it in for a score. Kyle made the conversion. Shortly, Brandon Worley barreled over several tacklers to get a tough try under the posts. Kyle chipped in the kick. In the final seconds Southern put a try in the corner to end the friendly. Tiger B’s win big in a 30 minute match, 28-7. (The future looks bright.)
It was a tough trip, but there was no bitching by the players. They stayed loose during the trip, took on a tough team and kept their heads up high. Now that the long trip is done we have easier weekends ahead.
We’re off to MTSU this weekend. I’ll keep you posted.