NFL Academy beat American opposition for only the second time in their history, emphatically beating Erasmus Hall High School 35-0 on Tuesday night.
After travelling all the way from New York, Erasmus Hall failed to score on the night. Meanwhile, NFL Academy showed their capabilities with an all-around dominant performance.
The NFL Academy will take this result as a positive outcome of the hard-work that has been put in since moving to Loughborough and training five times a week.
From the first kick, Erasmus Hall teased to excite as Keenan Grant returned with a 40-yard-dash but their offence failed to progress, in what was a sign of things to come.
Jack Troni, however, set the tone from the off showing his dynamism to run for the game’s opening first down. Later in the first quarter, he threw a 40 yard pass to wide receiver, Bryan Winter to move the Academy into the red zone.
The first play of the second quarter saw the combination of Troni and Winter link up again for touchdown number one. Winter’s slant run found him open in the endzone.
Once again, Grant tried to will Erasmus forward by returning a kick-off 50-yards but this time, the proceeding offence fumbled the ball on their second down. The ball was claimed by Meshach Arthur, his first of several impressive defensive plays.
Academy’s second touchdown was a great adjustment by Troni to back-pedal away from three Erasmus defenders and pick out Winter, who dramatically double-caught the ball. It seems the Erasmus defensive coordinator hadn’t watched Game of Thrones prior to the game, as he didn’t know Winter was coming.
The Erasmus defence made some plays. Troni was picked off by defensive-back JoJo Andrews who twinkle-toed well to stay in bounds.
But the Italian quarterback was back with vengeance on his next drive, this time finding tight-end Ben Lax wide-open in the back corner of the end-zone, sending the Academy 21-0 up at half-time.
In a blow-for-blow between quarter-back and defence Marquise Lawton picked Troni again, flying down-low to make the catch.
Still though, Troni and his offence came out on top. This time the running game was utilised as Justis Seeling bundled over the line for a touchdown, after progressing the ball half-a-yard short of the line on the previous drive.
It was then time for Erasmus quarterback, Keion Jones, to be picked off. Arthur de Boachie, with the ‘pick’ of the bunch, athletically hurdling his way inside the Erasmus 10-yard-line.
— NFL Academy (@NFLAcademy) October 11, 2023
One last Academy trip to the endzone, on fourth-and-goal, gave wide-receiver Matthew Okunade his moment at Tottenham Hotspur stadium to bring the score to 35-0.
It was a learning experience for the high-schoolers from New York. Much like the American humour of shows such as Brooklyn Nine-Nine, it doesn’t always translate on this side of the Atlantic.
For the NFL Academy, the future is bright. In another success story to refer to, offensive-lineman Daniel Akinkunmi today committed his future to NCAA Division I Oklahoma Sooners.
The game was live-streamed on the NFL UK YouTube. You can find it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MFS6cdhIW8&t=13411s