Ljubljana too strong for Zagreb
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After two victories in preseason and national championship, the Silverhawks were facing the first true test in the 2012 season.
Since they had not yielded a single point until this game, the expectations were high especially for the defense. The offense did their part, scoring 65 unanswered points under coach Mark Garza’s leadership.
Zagreb lost its home opener against the reigning champions SBB Vukovi where their main playmaker, running back Laurence Subelka, injured his knee and was out. This evened up the balance on the field since Silverhawks are still waiting for their imports to arrive due to a very long process of obtaining necessary visas. Zagreb came with ex-NFL Brandon Collier and Silverhawks introduced two players that serve in Aviano air base – Maurice Jones and Josh Stevenson.
Silverhawks won the coin toss and took off with great return by Jones. But after three straight runs by Matej Pavlič they fumbled and Patriots picked the ball. It was almost a disaster for the home team, since they managed to bring the runner down at their 10. Zagreb's offense under quarterback Luka Alaupović took the field and tried to find the way to the endzone. The Silverhawks defense mounted a great goal line stand and managed to stop the Patriots with two sacks. The home offense started to drive after that towards the Patriots endzone, but the interception and another long return pinned the Silverhawks defense again at their goal line. This time the Patriots were successful and Ivan Klarić scored the leading touchdown.
It didn’t take long for the Silverhawks to strike back. On the ensuing kickoff Jernej Pavlič brought the ball home after a fantastic 95 yard kickoff return and it looked like it would be a very exciting night. It was Ljubljana’s time to kick the ball, but Patriots were clumsy returning the football and fumbled on their own 22. What was even worse, it was the Silverhawks that recovered the fumble and after two plays, quarterback Lovro Gmajner lobbed a great pass to Rok Štamcar for the second touchdown in two minutes.
Patriots tried to return back to the game, but their offense stalled and after a quick three and out their special teams made a grave mistake while punting. A high snap sailed over the punters head and landed in the endzone. Milan Narat quickly raced to the ball and recovered it for another touchdown. It was quick 21-7 for Silverhawks.
The game slowed down in the second quarter. Both team traded a couple of punts, but Gmajner hit Jernej Pavlič with a long bomb that almost got them a touchdown. Gmajner still scored on the next possession with a quarterback sneak and it was 28-7 at the end of the half. Zagreb finished the half throwing an interception
Nothing was different in the second half. Maurice Jones intercepted a pass from Keranović in the endzone ending a promising drive. Silverhawks were again trying to run the ball but with little success. It was Jenrnej Pavlič again who caught a difficult pass from Gmajner and moved the chains deep into the Patriots half of the field. It was Gregor Crepinsek who escaped nicely on the power run through the middle for another score.
After that both sides started to fill in the replacement players, but nothing changed. Maurice Jones intercepted another pass and it was Nikola Grbić’s time to score on a 6 yard run. 42-7 was also the final score of the game since we haven’t seen much of the game in the last minutes of the second half.
Ljubljana Silverhawks started a game very successfully but the raising concern are becoming the injuries since it looks like they lose a player in almost every game. Zagreb is now 0-2 and they hope Subelka is going to return soon. But the season is still young and there is a lot of football to be played.