Pirates junior secure Britbowl place with win over Caesars
August 25th, 2017
East Kilbride Pirates 20 – Nottingham Caesars 12
On Saturday the Juniors played host to Nottingham Caesars in the Northern Conference Championship game, competing for the right to play in this year’s Britbowl Final.
Nottingham had first possession and made steady progress on the back of their running game before eventually being forced to punt. A good return by Declan Kelly brought the ball back out near midfield. From there the ball was worked down to the Caesars’ 5-yard line before QB Sam Montgomerie ran the ball home. He also connected with Struan Bailey for the 2PAT and an early 8-0 lead. With the visitors relying almost exclusively on running the ball, the period passed quickly without any further scoring.
The second quarter continued in a similar vein. Both defences seemed to have their opponents’ number, leading to stalemate for long periods. Almost inevitably, it was a defensive player who scored next. EKP’s Declan Kelly picked off a Tom Henley pass and returned it 64 yards for the TD and a 14-0 lead that the home side held until half time.
Quarter three was again dominated by the defences as both offences also struggled with the gusting wind and intermittent rain. East Kilbride did get within scoring distance, but on 2nd-and–goal, coughed up the ball at the Caesars 2-yard line. Nottingham made just 3 yards before QB Henley was pressurised in the endzone on 3rd Down. He appeared to throw the ball away and the Pirates sideline looked for an intentional grounding call and a 2-point safety. Fortunately Craig Sanders wasn’t hanging about and he recovered the loose ball in the endzone. The pass was ruled to have gone backwards and therefore a live ball, so Sanders’ recovery was in fact for a TD. The 2-point conversion run was held up short of the goal line, leaving the Pirates 20-0 up moving into the 4th Quarter.
Nottingham’s first possession of the period ended with an interception by Aidan Gallacher but the home side failed to make any progress and were soon made to punt. Marcus Galanti’s kick was charged down by Brad Martin who also had the wherewithal to scoop up the ball and return it to the house. Following the ensuing kick off, EK were pinned near their goal line and proceeded to fumble the ball away on 1st Down. Nottingham immediately capitalised and Tom Henley ran the ball in from the 1-yard line, reducing the deficit to 20-12. The Caesars were to have just one more drive to try and take the game into overtime. Starting at their 12-yard line, they moved the ball downfield on a succession of short passes, getting all the way to the Pirates’ 25 before an incomplete pass on 4th-and-4 allowed the home side to run out the clock and breathe a sigh of relief.
East Kilbride now travel to Worcester’s Sixways Stadium on 26th August where they will face London Blitz Juniors in a Britbowl showdown.
Game report by Bill Campbell
Photos courtesy Duncan Gray
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