Not just a field trip
The Ljubljana Silverhawks came close, holding their own all game, but the Novi Sad Dukes were able to eventually score the winning touchdown in the fourth quarter and get the second win of the season. Marko Đanić ran in from the two yard line to capitalize one of few successful drives in an otherwise miserable day for the whole offense.
So miserable in fact, that they scored without quarterback Čaba Juhas, who was hit hard on back to back plays in the third quarter and didn’t return. Đanić was stopped for a loss numerous times as did Juhas who was also running for his life most of the time.
Ljubljana wasn’t much better on offense however, so the game turned into a special teams practice, as the punters were the busiest players on both teams. Without running backs Rok Milek and Robert Cochran, the Silverhawks had no running game, and the passing game wasn’t much better – Ryan Rodgers, one of two Americans that made it to Inđija, was intercepted four times.
Their only score came after a disastrous play by Dukes, when they didn’t pick up the ball on kickoff in time. The Silverhawks got it deep in Dukes half and scored on a sneak by Rodgers; the score remained tied at 6-6 as the extra point attempt was blocked.
Novi Sad led after the first quarter, despite basically not getting a first down – they did so on a 65 yard punt return by safety Miloš Nikšić, who scored in the same way against the Silverhawks in 2006.
After scoring the go ahead touchdown, Dukes appeared to have clinched the deal with an interception by Mladen KnÐµžević around the opponents 20 yard line, but the SIlverhawks defense not only hung on, but pushed Dukes offense back, forcing them to punt. Ljubljana’s last effort brought them to the 40 yard line of their opponent, but that’s as far as they got, as Rodgers was sacked and time eventually ran out on them.
The game ended 13-6, and Ljubljana lost a really close game with the same score for the second straight week. Although everyone was visibly disappointed on Ljubljana’s side of the field, at least it wasn’t a blowout like it was so many times before, so there’s hope that they will be much more competitive not only this year, but in years to come.
“The team was too relaxed, because we beat them big the previous two years”, says Miloš Nikšić, who also intercepted a pass to go along his punt return touchdown. “They were stronger, they brought in the quarterback, and they got Turšič back; we didn’t expect that. We also tried to play our guys from the second team – the error on the kickoff was theirs.”