On Saturday the 13th of October, the Deadbirds traveled to Tampa to face off against the USF bulls on their home turf. This was the first game of the regular season for UNF and after getting their feet wet in a friendly against the Jacksonville mens team, they were ready to go all-in. The sun was high and hot for most of the day which, as any player will tell you, adds an element of difficulty to the game but none the less both teams seemed ready as ever. USF’s advantage would lay within their bigger forwards and UNF’s would lay within the quickness of their forwards and the great speed and experience of their backline.
The first half began as any other with the teams feeling themselves out. It was clear that USF meant to make this game a very forward focused game. Thier attempts to run it up the gut and head on were met by the shoulders of the Deadbirds and eventually stifled. Once UNF gained control, set the forwards up to slow down the pace before exploding into their quickball out to the backs, their were meter gains ranging from 30-50 meters per run with USF struggling to keep up with the runs. Scrums for the most part were fairly equal, however Thomas Lepick, playing his first full game at the position of hooker showed a great deal of resilience and skill, stealing an astoundingly high number of the Bulls put ins while losing nearly none himself. The half ended with the score at 19-9 in favor of the Deadbirds who only allowed the Bulls to achieve points through their own mistakes and penalty kicks.
In the second half UNF stuck to their same game plan. Wall-up on defense, stop the run, and wait to regain possession. In the second half the infamous Deadbird lineout which has been known to wreak havoc forced USF to halt even contesting lineouts defensively. The game ended with a rousing 33-9 score with tries coming from Captain Tim Herff, Taylor Youngling, Thomas Lepick (2), ans Steven Krueger. For his two tries, impressive display in scrums, and great improvement in lineouts Thomas Lepick was named man of the match.