Wolves edge Pirates out for historic win
May 7th, 2018
East Kilbride Pirates 27 – Edinburgh Wolves 28
Back on 11 August 1996, East Kilbride Pirates lost to the now defunct Fife 49’ers. What nobody knew at that time was that it would be almost 22 years before another Scottish team bested the East Kilbride side. That remarkable run finally came to an end on 6 May 2018 as the Wolves triumphed by the narrowest possible margin.
The game started well for the home side. Edinburgh’s opening drive lasted just three plays before Mark Stewart batted a Wolves’ pass up in the air and straight into the hands of team mate Craig Sanders. Sanders then returned the ball 32 yards for the opening TD. A wayward snap meant there was no successful conversion and the lead stayed at 6-0. Edinburgh again failed to move the ball and subsequently punted to bring the home offense onto the field for the first time. A 6-play drive was capped with a 16-yard scoring pass from Neil Baptie to James Lightbody, his first TD for the club. Steven Kane tagged on the PAT to make it 13-0 at that stage. The Pirates’ whirlwind start continued as the Defense again go in on the act. Wolves QB Jamie Morrison threw his second interception as he was picked off by Ryan Miller at midfield. Miller took the ball all the way back to the endzone for the Pirates’ third TD in the opening 10 minutes. Kane again converted, and with no more scoring in the period, EK went into the second quarter 20-0 ahead.
The second period was a much tighter affair, with Edinburgh finally starting to get their game together. Midway through the quarter, they also managed to get themselves onto the scoreboard. Consecutive plays of 15, 12 and 17 yards took them to a 1st-and-goal at the EK 7 yard line. Two plays later and running back Calum Davidson plunged over from a yard out to score. The initial 2PAT pass was broken up, but ruled as Pass Interference before QB Morrison kept the ball and ran in the conversion at the second attempt. Momentum was swinging in the visitors favour, as they again moved deep into Pirates’ territory. However, the home Defense held strong and forced a short Field Goal try which they duly blocked, taking a 20-8 lead to the break.
Once again the Pirates quickly got into their stride after the restart. Just three plays in and Scott Widdowson broke free to score on a 40-yard run that Kane converted. The Wolves bounced straight back though, and rounded off a solid drive with a 21-yard pass from Morrison to George Fell in the endzone, the receiver doing well to snag the pass under pressure. Lloyd Dignan added the PAT to bring the score to 27-15 in EK’s favour. That deficit was reduced even further when another long Edinburgh drive was again capped with a Morrison-Fell TD, this time from 8 yards, after 8 attempts from 1st-and-goal with a 4th down penalty keeping the drive alive. The PAT was blocked, but there was now everything to play for with score at 27-21 going into the final period.
East Kilbride had to punt early in the quarter, forcing the visitors back to their own 10-yard line. Undaunted, the Wolves set about steadily moving the ball upfield. They were assisted by a Pirates penalty for a late hit out of bounds and a further unsportsmanlike conduct call on the sideline for questioning the first decision. Those 30 free yards took the ball over midfield before a further seven plays took the ball to the EK 6-yard line. QB Morrison ran in the tying TD before Dignan stepped up to slot the go-ahead conversion. There was still time for the Pirates to rescue the game but they were unable to sustain any offensive momentum. Their Defense were holding firm, repeatedly forcing the Wolves to punt but time was becoming a major factor. EK had one last chance when they got possession deep inside the 2-minute warning. However, with no time-outs left, clock management was to be their final downfall, spiking the ball to stop the clock but not realising it was 4th Down. This turned the ball over to Edinburgh who were only too happy to kneel it out and take the historic win.
Report by Bill Campbell
Photos by Duncan Gray, Duncolm Photography
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