|Photo: Jasper Barendregt|
The Arnhem Falcons firmly cemented their place in the top three of the national power rankings with a convincing 55-9 win over the struggling Hilversum Hurricanes.
In the first half in which the Arnhem Offense and defense both contributed to a 43-0 lead everything seemed to go Falcons way. Offensively they were clicking, managing to exploit weaknesses in the Hurricanes defense while the defense itself had two interception returns for touchdowns and the Hurricanes offense almost powerless also due to big drops at the wrong moments.
The Falcons offense established itself immediately on the first drive of the game. After a solid dose of running from running backs Brandon Stamper and Joost Holtslag and a drive sustaining catch by Riangelo Antonia, it was left to fullback Lennard Harris to put the first points of the game on the board with a 6 yard off tackle run to the left. After a penalty Tim van Mal added a 12 yard pat for a 7-0 Arnhem lead.
The game then threatened to become sloppy, with the Hurricanes and Falcons combining for three straight “3 and out” series. On the next offensive series Joost Holtslag added to the misery by fumbling the ball at the Hilversum 23 yard line where the Hurricanes recovered.
Their happiness was short-lived though when Riangelo Antonia picked off Hilversum QB Maurice Tielen on the very next play and weaved his way through Hilversum players for a touchdown. Due to problems with the snap, the PAT was no good (13-0).
This seemed to be igniting the Falcons play and after solid defense and a short punt, Oscar Harris returned the ball to the Hurricanes 18 yard line for the next offensive series of the Falcons.
This also marked the start of the second quarter and on the second play of the drive Falcons quarterback AJ Hobbelink found a wide open Volkert Deen in the right corner of the endzone for a 16 yard TD pass. Deen just managed to keep one foot inbounds to make it count, but the subsequent pat attempt failed again (19-0).
Shortly after, the Falcons almost duplicated the last scoring play, when AJ Hobbelink again connected with Volkert Deen on the right side on a comeback route. One nifty move later another 6 points were added to the scoreboard. The Falcons then abandoned their one point PAT attempts and went for two for the remainder of the game. A good decision as Brandon Stamper almost walked into the endzone untouched to make the score 27-0.
The Falcons defense did not let up forcing the Hurricanes to punt again on their next drive. This put the ball on the Hurricanes 40 yard line, leaving a relatively long field for the Arnhem offense. A good mix of run and pass steadily drove the ball down the field though and on the 10th play of the drive Brandon Stamper seemed to capitalize with a 2 yard touchdown run only to have it recalled for an offensive holding penalty.
The next play though did add points to the board as Volkert Deen scored again, this time on a reverse from Joost Holtslag to the left corner of the endzone. Brandon Stamper then did add the 2 point conversion with a hard charge up the middle (35-0).
As it was getting close to halftime, Hilversum then put all their cards on the pass. After a good 12 yard gain their next pass attempt was tipped up in the air and scooped up by who else but Riangelo Antonia, this time returning the ball 36 yards for another Arnhem score. The point after attempt was again converted by Brandon Stamper. This meant a 43-0 halftime lead for the Falcons.
After the break, in which the Arnhem coaches warned the team for complacency, some of it did seem to seep in as the Hurricanes started with a solid drive, kept alive partly by Arnhem penalties. The Hurricanes had to settle for a field goal, but at least they wiped away a possible shutout (43-3).
The Hurricanes then tried for an onside kick, succeeding on the first attempt, but a penalty meant they had to re-kick the ball. They almost came up with it again, but the ball was ruled in Arnhem’s favor.
The Falcons offense had to start at midfield and made very short work of their drive. A Hobbelink to Deen pass on the right put the ball on the Hurricanes 4 yard line, after which Joost Holtslag got his name on the score sheet with a 4 yard run.
After a holding penalty on the PAT put the ball on the 12 yard line, the next PAT attempt failed when a reverse attempt went horribly wrong (49-3).
The Falcons seemed to have restored their on-field dominance when on the next drive, the defense forced a fumble which was promptly recovered by DT Sergio Maatstaf who just returned to the team that week. Runningback Joost Holtslag played one of the most unfortunate games of his career though giving up his second fumble of the game with the ball already on the Hurricanes 5 yard line.
Hilversum straightened their backs after this and put together an impressive 95 yard drive, capped off by a 3 yard pass straight down the middle of the field to make the score 49-9 (pat no good).
Another onside kick attempt by the Hurricanes then failed, giving the Arnhem offense excellent field position once again.
The fourth quarter started with a three and out series of the Arnhem offense. A 40 yard punt meant a touchback and put the ball on the Hilversum 20 where the Hurricanes tried to establish another drive but a 4th and 2 rushing attempt was stopped in the backfield by the Falcons defense leading to a turnover on downs on the Hilversum 45.
The Arnhem offense then dug a big hole for itself with a holding and intentional grounding penalty putting the ball on the Arnhem 29 yard line for a 2nd and 36 attempt. They managed to claw back admirably though, first gaining 14 yards on a Volkert Deen reverse followed by a 22 yard pass from Hobbelink to Deen.
On the next play, replacement tailback Jasper Holtslag bounced a run down the middle to the outside and took it all the way to the endzone for a 35 yard TD run. The two point conversion attempt failed (55-9).
The Hurricanes then got one more offensive chance but after reaching 4th and 7 on their own 38 they opted to punt the ball away to possibly prevent further scoring. This put the ball on the Arnhem 3 yard line. The Falcons then ran out the clock with Jasper Holtslag doing most of the carrying. Eventually the gameclock wound down to zero after a 2 yard Joost Holtslag run put the ball on the Hilversum 43 yard line.
All in all a very solid performance which gave the Falcons coaching staff an opportunity to give the backups a few chances to play in the second half. In two weeks, on April 27 the Amsterdam Crusaders will undoubtedly form a much bigger obstacle when they visit the Falcons in Arnhem.
Box score: Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Total
Hurricanes 0 0 9 0 9
Falcons 13 30 6 6 55