Pirates U19 make it four for father’s day!
June 21st, 2019
Highland Wildcats 14 – 22 East Kilbride Pirates
EKP Juniors made it four Scottish titles in a row to celebrate Father’s Day up in Inverness. However many of the Pirates supporters watching may have come away with a few more grey hairs courtesy of their offspring.
Like the chilly breeze blowing through Bught Park, the first quarter flew by, as neither offense could get the ball moving effectively. The D-Lines of both teams worked incredibly hard to shut down the run and give opposing QBs little time to pass. An interception from Pirates’ corner Joseph Crawley being the only highlight in an otherwise attritional opening 12 minutes.
The Wildcats showed their claws at the beginning of Q2 and some strong running got the ball down to the 7-yard line. Up stepped QB Wilson who connected with Sean McWilliams to open the scoring. 2PAT unsuccessful. Wildcats 6 – 0 Pirates.
EKP regrouped, Head Coach Davies asked for a quick response, and he certainly got it. Two plays later QB Scott McKigen sent a 61 yard screamer into the reliable hands of receiver Christian Rubuga who carried it in for the score. McKigen to Michael Paton for the 2PAT and EKP edged in front.
Pirates’ offense were desperate to push on and wanted the ball back as soon as the D could get it. Sacks from linemen Smith and Joyce, then a pick from Ben Gallagher did just the job. Unfortunately, despite getting to first and goal in subsequent drives they just couldn’t punch through for the score and the half ended Wildcats 6 – 8 Pirates.
EKP received the kick to start the third and began to find their rhythm. The strong quartet of running backs all contributed in a 9 play drive which QB McKigen conducted all the way down to the Wildcats 10 yard line, before Matt Black crashed in for the TD crescendo. He also helped himself to the 2PAT and the lead was stretched to 10pts. Wildcats 6 – 16 Pirates.
Towards the end of the quarter, another good drive, including some big gains from gameday MVP Rory Hutton, set up McKigen to fake the hand-off and coast in himself for the score. Wildcats 6 – 22 Pirates.
Into the final quarter and the physical nature of two hard hitting sides started to take its toll. Mistakes were getting made and the officials were kept busy with penalty flags. Both teams exchanged sacks (back to back efforts for EKP from James Richards & Josh McCardle) and also punts.
Just when it looked like both teams were going to frustrate each other further and the game was going to fizzle out with no more scoring – it didn’t!
A good punt return, set up the Wildcats with field position on the Pirates’ 20. Then on the first play, the QB under real pressure seemed to balloon a pass way into the blustery sky. The Pirates’ secondary stood and admired the unconventional arc of the ball all the way into the gloves of McWilliams who stretched up like a human cherry-picker to grasp his 2nd TD of the day. Not content with the fruits of his labour, he tagged on the 2PAT, to set up a nervy conclusion to the afternoon’s events. Wildcats 14 – 22 Pirates.
A stalled drive and a bad snap on the punt, and the Pirates and their supporters now had the same trepidation as tiny mice trapped in this cathouse. The feral, feline foes had the ball on the Pirates’ 30 and it was all hands on deck for the D. Thankfully the Highlanders lived up to the unruly nature of their name and gave up two penalties. These combined with a Jonathon Letham sack and good pass coverage, gave EKP the ball back with little left to play.
It was given to safe hands of running back Hutton to grind the clock down enabling McKigen to kneel it out for the win – resulting in a collective, paternal puffing of the cheeks from the relieved side-lines.
They say familiarity breeds contempt. However, although these two teams play each other more regularly than anyone else in U19 football – there is nothing but respect between them. So ‘hats off’ to the Wildcats, who have again provided the toughest test yet for the East Kilbride Pirates, who themselves now go to 5-0 for the season.
The fnal game of the regular fixtures is next Sunday (23 June) away to the Manchester Titans, and despite the unbeaten record for the Pirates, there is so much depending on this clash.
Report by Kerr Girvan
Photos courtesy Anna Smith
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