In a day that many had circled on their calendars, the Hornets would play host to their two most competitive rivals – the Grangemouth Broncos and Aberdeen Oilcats. After their exploits at Champions Bowl, the Hornets would have the proverbial trial by fire against two of the top teams in the BAFA leagues. Elsewhere, the Carnegie Steelers would have their last attempt to snatch a playoff spot from the Dunbeth Dragons, and the Clyde Comets would look to set themselves up for a more comfortable path to the playoffs.
In the Hornets’ first test of the day, they would face the ever-strong Aberdeen Oilcats. The Oilcats would be down key contributor Callum Stopani, but the Hornets would be missing their starting QB, Alan Young. Alan injured his shoulder during the Hornets’ fixtures at Champions Bowl, but they’d have Nicholas Farrell ready to step in, with Alan calling the shots from the sideline.
The Oilcats would start the game with the ball, and the tone for the game was set early by Hornets blitzer Gavin Strathearn who grabbed a sack on the first play of the game. Gavin would be a thorn in the side of the Oilcats QBs throughout the game as he grabbed three sacks in total, and forced a number of errant passes. Further pressure was applied by the Hornets’ other blitzers in their stable, Chris Farrell and Heather Spurling-McGowan. This allowed the Hornets ballhawking safeties to take advantage, as they snagged four interceptions in a strong performance, three of which went to Nicholas Farrell, and another to Julian Holburn-White.
Offensively, the Hornets did not miss a beat, as they drove the ball downfield with relative ease throughout the contest. Centre Callum Bell was welcomed to the starting lineup and had his best day of the season with four TDs. The game-ball in this contest is shared between Nicholas and Callum of the Hornets. Nicholas had an exceptional day on both sides of the ball, while Callum’s stellar performance kept the offence scoring.
The Comets and Steelers would meet, with both teams being on different sides of the playoff divide. The Comets came into this game occupying second place in the HNC West, while the Steelers knew it was now-or-never as they sat behind the Dragons in the standings. The game started off perfectly for the Comets, as Bud McFerren scored to give the Comets the lead. New transferee from the Hornets, David Pasnik, showed his class in this contest. With the score tight in the second half, he snagged one of his three interceptions and returned it for a huge game-breaking TD. The Steelers struggled to move the ball with any consistency as they were intercepted five times in total. The Comets were rarely threatened in this game, as they saw the victory out comfortably. For his defensive efforts, David Pasnik earns our game-ball here!
In arguably the marquee matchup of the season, the Broncos would look to topple the Glasgow Hornets to secure #1 seed from the HNC. After impressively dispatching of the Oilcats earlier in the season, the Broncos would aim to remain un-defeated in their only game of the day. They would have sensed the perfect opportunity with Alan Young out of the Hornets lineup, and started the game fast with an opening drive TD to Fraser Thomson. The Hornets replied through a deep pass to Grant McLennan, before disaster struck for the Broncos. An unfortunate collision in the Broncos backfield between teammates saw Fraser Thomson go down with a suspected concussion. He would return to the game for one defensive series, but was withdrawn again. The Hornets would attempt to take full advantage, but the Broncos defence remained strong, showing their excellent depth. Sacks for Matty Ross kept things interesting, however the Hornets would pull away.
An unfortunate deflection as Kevin Woods went for an interception landed in the hands of Hornet Richie Moore in the end zone for a TD. This extended the Hornets lead and they would never look back. The game-ball in this contest goes to Julian Holburn-White. Despite not putting up dominating numbers like he normally does, Julian kept the chains moving for the Hornets offence, while also providing two turnovers – one interception, and one stunning last-ditch tackle on fourth down to stop the Broncos offence.
The Oilcats squared off against the Steelers, who knew their season had effectively been ended after they fell to the Comets earlier in the day. In a return to form, Oilcats QB Scott Stopani would throw 7 TD passes in an excellent showing. Gary Elliot showed why he is the favourite for the HNC MVP award with 4 TD performance on offence, while adding an interception on defence. The Steelers added scores through fine catches from Aly O’Mahoney and Chan Phung. Despite not translating in the win column, the Steelers have looked like a far more cohesive and competitive team this season, and will look to improve next year. Game ball in this contest goes to Scott Stopani for his lethal performance.
In their final game of the season, the Oilcats would be given a stern test against the talented Comets squad. A tight first half showed that the Comets could compete with the best in the conference. Unfortunately, David Pasnik would go down injured in this contest after a fantastic XP catch. Narrowly trailing in the second half, Gary Elliot provided a spark for the Oilcats, returning an interception for a score. The Oilcats raced to a 32-14 lead with less than 5 minutes to play. An incredible catch by Bud McFerren narrowed the lead to 32-21, before the defence managed to turn the ball over through a Steven Mercer interception. Bud McFerren ran the ball in himself from just inside the Oilcats half to make the game even tighter. Some incomplete passes inside the two minute warning from the Oilcats repeatedly stopped the clock, and the Comets would have the opportunity to take the lead. The historically stingy Oilcats defence sealed the victory for the Oilcats in a shaky performance overall. For his heroics when the game was tight, Gary Elliot earns our game ball.
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