After the news of Leicester Eagles’ forfeit on the day, only 11 teams would descend to the beautiful landscape of Northampton which saw sightings of GB Head Coach Alan Young and the UK Dukes who were keeping everyone entertained on a sunny July afternoon. Here is a recap of all the action that unfolded in the last inter-division game-day of the season:
In the first game of the day over on Pitch 1, we would be treated to an absolute cracker between these two sides who have a similar style in terms of offence and defence. However, the Stampede would be missing Quarterback Steve Hall for their second game-week this season and it would be interesting to see how they fared without him.
The game was a back and forth affair which saw QBs Jez Smith & Hereford stand-in James Sirrel go blow for blow. The deciding factor in this match up would be converted XPs as both teams scored 6 TD’s but it would be the Phantoms who would win the battle of the XPs by converting 3. Despite the missing Steve Hall, James Sirrel was still able to hit star wide receiver Jay Jay Spencer for a brace but it would be the impressive Josh Bolland who would score 4 times for the Stampede to take them close to victory.
On the Phantoms side, a hat-trick from Stuart Tarry, a brace from the returning Elliot Purdy and another score to Luke Hoskin put them in a position to finish the season strong. Luke himself threw the deciding score t0 Elliot late in the game.
The game ball in this contest goes to Stuart Tarry who provided some clutch catches on the way to his hat-trick in this contest.
Over on pitch 2, the Falcons and the Cougars would take part in another close one which would be the theme for most of the day. Lewis Phillips would be the star of the show in this contest, throwing 7 TDs. 4 of those making their way to the impressive Paul Hindle in a strong performance which brought the Falcons one win away from a winning season in their rookie season.
The Cougars would not go lying down and would see James Ashmore throw 6 TDs & 3 XPs of his own with Sam Finnie picking up a hat-trick and WRs Danny Caballero and Kieran Eaton picking up the slack for the remaining 3 TDs. The Falcons defence stood strong in the closing moments of the game, and stopped the Cougars Offence from advancing up the field to give the ball back to the outstanding Lewis Phillips, who saw the time run out to pick up a victory against an excellent Cougars side.
Phillips is the recipient of the game ball in this one as he led his team with some incredible throws to give his offence the best chance to succeed against a tricky Coventry side. Special mention goes to the Falcons defence under the leadership from ballhawk Ed McKenna who picked up a vital interception in this one along with the pick 6 from Joseph Kewley-Joy.
On pitch 3, the hosts Northants Titans Blue would face off against the Thunderducks. The Titans have had an excellent record against the Thunderducks to date, however, in keeping with theme of the opening games, this one would be a close encounter despite not seeming that way for much of the first half. On their 3rd Quarterback of the season, the Titans would recruit Justin Huxter under centre who started the game strongly by leading an impressive 2 play drive down the field to hit Jordan Melay for the initial score and Arron Timson picking up the XP to give them the lead.
A big defensive stop would give the Titans Blue back the ball in the first half, with Justin Huxter leading another drive which would be capped off with another touchdown to Jordan Melay, however they failed to pick up the XP. The game would then stall for the Titans Offence as the Thunderducks defence held strong to put the pressure on, and in turn helping the Thunderducks offence who would change their game plan and start hitting Richard Harris with some regularity. He would contribute their first two scores of the day for Merthyr Tydfil, however they would fail on both their extra point attempts to go into the half one point behind.
The second half would see an adjustment from the Titans Blue defence and it would become a game of interceptions as 4 balls were picked on the next 4 drives with Huxter throwing two interceptions to the impressive Richard Harris and the Thunderducks throwing a pair of interceptions to the safety tandem of Nathan Coles & Connor Melay. The Thunderducks would take the opportunity on their next drive to hit Andrew Giboney to take a surprising lead in this game with the extra point falling incomplete to find the score 18-13 heading into the 2 minute warning.
Justin Huxter would hit each of his receivers on the ensuing drive to march down the field where he would find Nathan Coles for the touchdown with Jordan Melay picking up the extra point to take the 20-18 lead with minimal time left on the clock. A strong defensive stand from the Titans Blue defence, including 2 sacks from Harry Brailey (who would get 4 in this game) saw the Titans get the ball back and run out the game to get their first win of the day.
Game ball in this game goes to Justin Huxter who came into this game having never met the offence before the gameday and provided some great moments and some fantastic drives including the game winning touchdown to Nathan Coles.
Coventry Panthers would start their day on Pitch 1 against a Hereford side who were unlucky in defeat in their first game against the Phantoms. Unfortunately for the Stampede, things would go from bad to worse as the Panthers started the game strong after Tom Reid took the ball 40 yards to the house for the opening score.
Hereford would bounce back after James Sirrel would hit Luke Griffith and Jay Jay Spencer to take the lead with minimal time left in the first half but a walk off hail mary attempt by James Nelms to Connor Baron who would just get his toes in bounds would see the Panthers take the lead 13-12 into half time.
The second half would be just as close with both teams trading scores with Panthers WR Tom Reid picking up another two touchdowns to complete his hat-trick, with Jay Jay Spencer and Josh Bolland grabbing the scores for Hereford. With the score at 26-24 with barely any time remaining, it would look like extra points would be the demise of Hereford once again when Panthers would fall into some luck after WR Connor Baron tipped the ball onto incoming Shai Tailor to give the Panthers an 8 point lead.
Hereford would have one more chance to try and tie the game when they methodically drove the ball down the field when Tyler Sheil intercepted the ball on the edge of the end zone to close off the game to secure the 34-26 win. Game ball in this contest goes to Tom Reid for his impressive performance grabbing a hat-trick in a tough match up for the improving Panthers side.
Coventry Cougars Ladies 13 v 59 Coventry Cougars Mixed
The Cougar Bowl would see the Cougars Mixed side looking to improve on their earlier loss to the Exeter Falcons with the Ladies side missing starting QB Millie Barrett. It would be the Cougars Mixed side who would go all out in this one to build their momentum for their final game of the day with James Ashmore throwing 6 TDs & 5 XPs in an impressive performance, spreading the ball around to Kieran Eaton, Sam Finnie and Luke Madden on offence.
The defence also contributed with 3 pick 6s; Danny Caballero picking up 2 and Sam Finnie grabbing the other, coupled with 5 sacks to put the Ladies team to the sword. They would pick up 2 scores of their own to Kellie Barrett and Becca Haw with Alice Briggs providing QB relief for the missing Millie.
Game ball in this contest goes to James Ashmore for his elusiveness in the pocket to avoid the Cougars blitz and some great throws under pressure to keep his offence firing on all cylinders.
In one of the more important match ups of the day, the Birmingham Lions would start off quickly with a drive up the field through Tristan Varney who would dissect the Hurricanes defence finishing off with a touchdown pass to Rohan Sandhu, with Andrew Dewar picking up the extra point.
If you thought this would be a sign of things to come, Cardiff had different ideas and would then go to work, scoring on the following drive with a TD for Chris Jones but the extra point would fail, leaving the Hurricanes a point behind. The Hurricanes defence would step up, slaying the Lions with Joe Cotterill picking up 3 interceptions and Andrew Krag grabbing another to keep the usually potent Lions offence at bay whilst the Hurricanes made light work of the Birmingham defence in the first half, with Richard Phelps snagging a hat-trick after some suspect tackling from the Lions allowed him to jink his way to multiple scores.
The defence continued to hold strong with short yardage tackles leaving Tristan Varney in long yardage situations. The deep ball game which has been successful for them this season was failing due to the strong coverage of the Hurricanes safeties. Matt Thomas would hit Joe Cotterill for the final touchdown of the half with Kostas Karras picking up their only XP of the half to go in leading 31-7 in a scoreline which most people weren’t expecting.
In the second half, the game would tighten up with both defences causing problems. Cardiff’s blitzing was starting to get success with 2 sacks on Varney. This would be the story of the second half with both offences stalling on multiple occasions but it would be enough for the Hurricanes as they recorded an incredible win after one of the best first half performances we’ve seen this season.
Game-ball in this one goes to Joe Cotterill for his dominating play on both sides of the ball.
Exeter Falcons went into this contest looking the clinch their first winning season as a rookie team against a depleted Titans White side who were missing several key players for their final game of the season. It would be a close contest in which both defences shone by stifling their opponents. The Falcons thought they had taken the lead after Lewis Phillips hit Connor Horton in the end zone for the score but it was called back for impeding the blitzer and they would fail on their next attempt to get the score.
David Radford was thrust under centre for the Titans White in Matt Tibbles‘ absence and led the offence like he had played QB for years. He found Sophie Parsons for a score, who provided a celebratory spike for her first touchdown of the season to put the Titans White in the lead. The Falcons would respond with 3 scores of their own but fail on each of their extra point tries. The Titans White would respond with two touchdowns to the only offensive starter on the field in Ollie Tibbles who has found himself having a great rookie senior season for the Titans White. An extra point from Darryl Taylor would see the Titans take the lead and the defence would hold strong registering 2 important sacks along with great coverage in the secondary to stifle the deep ball game which the Falcons have perfected over their first season.
Game ball in this one goes to David Radford for stepping in at QB after no experience at the position playing a smart game of football and sticking to the game plan throughout.
Both teams came into this game having both knocked off the Hereford Stampede, but it would be the Phantoms who kept this momentum going with a strong performance on defence coupled with another impressive offensive performance despite Jez Smith throwing 3 Interceptions, he would total 7 TDs & 4 XPs and his defence would pick up 4 Interceptions & 5 Sacks of their own to shut down the Panthers offence who shone just one game ago.
Luke Hoskin & Stuart Tarry would be the stars of the game for Jez Smith, with them picking up all the offensive scores thrown by Smith, 4/1 for Hoskin & 3/3 for Tarry in a dominating display ending their season on a massive high taking the runner up position in the SWC Central in a tense battle with the Titans Blue side, giving them great momentum heading into the Southern Playoffs on the 5th August.
Gameball in this contest goes to Luke Hoskin who alongside Stuart Tarry has become one of the best tandem’s at the WR position in the SWC.
In what would prove to be the game of the day to neutral fans, the Hurricanes coming off the back of a dominant victory against the Birmingham Lions would come into this contest as favourite after the Titans Blue side would struggle against the Thunderducks in their earlier match up. Both teams would start strongly whilst they were trying to figure one another out with Justin Huxter finding Nathan Coles in the back of the end zone over Joe Cotterill for the opening score.
The Hurricanes would respond almost immediately with Matt Thomas hitting Joe Cotterill for to tie the score. A miscommunication between Justin Huxter and Arron Timson led to a pick 6 for Joe Cotterill to take the lead in a contest where mistakes could be the difference between winning and losing. However, Huxter would lead a drive to finish the half and hit a criminally wide open Jamie Willars for the tying score & Arron Timson completing a great catch at the front pylon to take the lead for the Titans heading into the half.
An injury to star Joe Cotterill would be a huge loss for the Hurricanes Offence and Defence heading into the second half which would start with Matt Thomas finding the fresh legged Sam Kimish down the side line to march down the field and hit him for the score to take the 18-13 lead.
The Titans started moving the ball themselves on the following drive, when the Hurricanes defence didn’t track the run of the Titans Centre Jordan Melay. The Titans centre found himself fully extended, grabbing the pass from Huxter in the endzone, extending the Titans lead to 2 points with the successful extra point to Jamie Willars making the score at 20-18.
Cardiff were finding themselves in first half Birmingham form on the next possession where Matt Thomas would hit Sam Kimish with ease to dissect the Titans defence for the go ahead score. They would try for 2 points and Kimish would come up trumps again, snagging the 2XP to make the score 26-20 with less than 2 minutes left on the clock. Justin Huxter wasn’t done and led his team down the field hitting all his receivers to gain the first down over the half way point and on the following play, Nathan Coles found himself one on one with the Hurricanes defender on a post route when Justin Huxter would throw a perfect pass over the top to Coles who snagged the ball out of the air to tie the game with an eruption from the crowd.
The confusion hit when the Titans Players thought the score was 26-24 in their favour. After the scoring play, they decided to play it smart and throw the extra point away. The final minute of the game proved to be complete chaos with Matt Thomas throwing an interception to Connor Melay and the Titans would stall on their next drive leaving enough time on the clock for the Hurricanes to have one more shot at the victory.
Matt Thomas was replaced in a strange move by Joe Cotterill, who started his team’s march down the field making his way to a quick first down with time rapidly running out when he was left with 7 seconds on the clock and he would loft a pass into the end zone, but this was tipped by Connor Melay into the hands of Ben Roberts who found himself storming down the sideline with just Cotterill to beat. A flick of the hips and Roberts was gone into the endzone for the walk off pick 6 to give the Titans Blue a surprise victory when a tie or loss was looming for them as the time expired on the game.
Game ball in this contest goes to Nathan Coles who proved to be as clutch as they get at the wide receiver position with his brace against a tough Hurricanes defence.
Both teams were looking to end their days on high notes as their seasons were coming to a close. It would be a close affair which saw the Titans Blue fall flat at times after their intense match up against the Hurricanes just a game before, whereas, the Cougars were coming off a strong dominating performance against the Cougars Ladies. Both teams would trade scores in the first half with Justin Huxter hitting Arron Timson who weaved his way into the endzone for the opening score and he would grab the extra point as well to take the lead.
Tthe Cougars would march down the field themselves after some elusiveness from James Ashmore saw him avoiding Harry Brailey to hit the open Kody Price in the endzone with Kieran Eaton picking up the extra point. The Cougars would stand strong on defence themselves to stall the Titans offence from getting anywhere else, James Ashmore would follow this up by hitting Eaton for the go ahead score with a failed extra point play leaving the Cougars leading 13-7.
Justin Huxter would utilise Jordan Melay on a number of occasions to pick numerous yards after the catch, until on 4th down, Melay would tip a catch against Kieran Eaton and catch the rebound and juke his way into the end zone after some missed tackles from the Cougars defence to tie the game at 13-13 at the end of the half.
The Titans would make a stop to start the second half after a Connor Melay interception gave Huxter short yardage to work to try and go ahead but Kieran Eaton had other ideas when he picked off the pass in his own endzone and ran up the sideline while being chased down to score the go ahead pick 6. A few defensive stands would follow with Connor Melay picking up 2 further interceptions and Harry Brailey sacking James Ashmore 5 times, with the Cougars picking up 2 sacks of their own through Luke Madden and Danny Caballero snagging 2 interceptions of his own in a back and forth defensive battle.
James Ashmore on a triple option play would then manage to make a number of Titans Players miss on a 45 yard touchdown run to make it a two score game with minimal time remaining for the Titans to move the ball. They would respond immediately after some missed tackles of their own would see Jordan Melay weave his way past the Cougars defence down the sideline and into the endzone to take the Titans with one score of the Cougars.
With next to no time remaining on the clock, the Cougars would utilise their tricky running game to run out the clock and pick up a valuable victory against the Titans Blue. Game ball goes to Jordan Melay who, despite the loss, picked up a number of yards and snagged two touchdowns, capping a successful individual day (despite the crime against fashion with his game-pants). Special mention to Connor Melay & Harry Brailey who were competing for the SWC defensive player of the year battle both increasing their totals in this game with impressive performances.
The final game of the day on Pitch 2 saw one of the greatest receiving performances of any player in the BAFA National Leagues after the Birmingham Lions took out their anger on the Hereford Stampede following their earlier defeat to the Cardiff Hurricanes.
Tristan Varney would explode, throwing 11 Touchdown Passes and 6 Extra Points with 10 of these touchdowns going to Drew Newiss who also picked up 2 Extra Points as well. The defence would also pile on the misery of the depleted Stampede by notching up 8 Interceptions with 5 coming from Tim Curry to suffocate the Stampede offence who struggled to move the ball for most of this match up.
Jay Jay Spencer was the only shining light in a disappointing day for the Stampede with 2 touchdowns in each of his games today and will be looking forward to getting Steve Hall back for their final game day of the season.
Game-ball in this one goes to Drew Newiss who put the Stampede defenders on skates for the majority of this contest on his way to an impressive performance, maybe one of the best we’ve ever seen.
The last game of the day was played in the aftermath of a great day of flag as everyone had left leaving just the Hurricanes & Cougars Ladies sides plus a crew of a referees from Titans Blue and White.
Andrew Krag took over the QB duties, throwing for an impressive 6 TDs and only 1 Interception. Josh Cranton & Sam Kimish both scored braces in this contest with Chris Jones, Richard Phelps and Drew Smith added to the Hurricanes total. The defence would take advantage of the back up quarterback situation for the Cougars Ladies offence who couldn’t get anything moving against the strong Hurricanes defence with Chad Stephens grabbing an interception and Chris Jones enjoying himself with 4 interceptions including 2 pick 6’s to add the Cougars Ladies misery to finish the day.
Gameball in this contest goes to Andrew Krag for his steller performance under centre in relief of Matthew Thomas showing that the QB depth in Cardiff is not something to be messed with.
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