Juniors clinch play-off spot with win over Nighthawks
July 27th, 2017
Merseyside Nighthawks 6 – East Kilbride Pirates 56
Last Sunday saw a convoy leave East Kilbride as both the junior and Senior teams travelled to face the Merseyside Nighthawks. The Juniors drew the short straw and had to make the earlier start as they were due to play first. Going into the game, they knew that a win was needed to clinch a play-off spot. Also, if they could concede fewer than 8 points they would be ranked #1, and gain home field advantage in the semi final.
Merseyside kicked off and EK quickly got into their stride. It took just 4 plays before Sam Montgomerie passed to Struan Bailey for an 11-yard TD. The duo combined again on the 2-point conversion to give an early 8-0 lead. The second drive was even shorter with just 2 plays needed this time before Fraser McDonald ran the ball home form 4 yards out. Montgomerie also ran in the 2PAT and already a gap was appearing between the teams.
There was no more scoring until the 2nd Quarter. A blocked Merseyside punt was recovered at their 11-yard line. On the next play Jack Hunter carried the ball into the endzone while Montgomerie passed to Martin Gallagher for the bonus points. The home side then put together a long drive, albeit one that was extended when they recovered a fumble on a punt return to keep the drive alive. They were eventually forced to punt again, and a good kick saw EK pinned at their own 1-yard line. Two false start penalties moved the ball even closer to the goal-line, but undeterred, the Pirates set about moving the ball upfield. Ten plays later, they had advanced the ball 89 yards and were knocking on the door of the Nighthawks endzone once again. Montgomerie then passed to McDonald to break down that door for the TD. The conversion was unsuccessful and marked the end of the first half.
The third Quarter started with a wake-up call to anyone thinking the job was done, when Merseyside notched a TD. A 5-play drive was capped by a 22-yard pass from Sam Parks to Jake Moore, and while the 2PAT pass fell incomplete, the Pirates could now not afford to give up any more points. A good return by Bailey of the subsequent kick off took the ball into Merseyside territory from where Montgomerie immediately found McDonald for a 35-yard TD. With the visiting Defence now on high alert, Merseyside’s next drive lasted just one play. Ryan Miller forced the fumble and Duncan Milne fell on the loose ball. Again EK worked the ball to the home team’s 1-yard line before Montgomerie scampered into the endzone. Hunter also ran in the conversion, leaving the Pirates 44-6 ahead as the game moved into the closing stages.
Q4 was played under a running clock and the Pirates only had two possessions, but scored on them both. Firstly a 41-yard run by Hunter and then on the last play of the game Lee Chappell carried the ball 13 yards to paydirt. Neither score was converted, leaving the Pirates 56-6 victors.
This win, combined with the lowest average points conceded, means that the Pirates will now host Nottingham Caesars at Hamilton Rigby Club on Saturday 19th August, with 1pm kick off. The winners of that game will go forward to the National Final a week later in Worcester’s Sixways Stadium, when the Pirates would hope to go one better than last year’s silver medal.
Report by Bill Campbell
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