Sunderland Spartans made a poor start to the new BUCS North Eastern league season with a 59-7 defeat to Durham Saints.
The Spartans were making their debut in the BUCS league after the vast growth in the American Football over the previous four seasons, with teams competing this year for the BUCS gold for the first time ever.
Sunderland struggled to get going against a strong Durham side early on which featured six post graduate Americans, including former NFL draft entry Jeremiah Schwartz.
The Saints took full advantage of their vast experience and stormed into the lead in the first quarter where Sunderland seemed powerless to the result as they struggled to come to terms with Durham’s fast paced, no huddle offence as the Saints raced to a 21-0 lead.
Linebacker Jonny Frayne, said: “We didn’t get out of the blocks today. We were caught off guard by Durham’s no huddle offence early on.
“You can’t start like that and expect to win games.”
There was some positives for the Sunderland Spartans, however, as once the defense adapted to the fast pace of the Saints offense the game became much more competitive in the final quarter.
The Spartans added a consolation touchdown when captain, Al Whithead found wide receiver Kevin Gendy with a 25-yard pass.
The Spartans finished sixth last season in the old BUAFL league and after keeping the core of their squad, as well as adding key figures such as running back Nick Whithead, will be looking for an improvement on that despite the opening day set back.
Frayne added: “We are looking to bounce back at Leeds. We did some good things today and this is the best Spartan team I’ve played in. The score doesn’t tell the whole story – I felt the defense stepped up at times but we gave up big plays due to silly mistakes. We’ll fix these and move on.”