Pirates claim victory over Wildcats

April 30th, 2019

Highland Wildcats 20 – 42 East Kilbride Pirates Junior

The East Kilbride Pirates Junior team set sail for the opening game of their 2019 season to the familiar waters of Inverness – home of the Highland Wildcats.  Bught Park is a beautiful setting for a game of gridiron, the facilities are excellent, and the welcome always warm and friendly.  It’s a pity more BAFA U19 teams don’t make the journey up to the Highlands to enjoy it, as there’s a feeling the Wildcats could be getting sea-sick of the sight of the Pirates coming to plunder.

Both teams had obviously recruited well during the off-season, enjoying a mix of graduates from their youth programs joining the more seasoned players in the large rosters on show.

EKP kicked off and after only fiv  e plays had the ball back in their hands, thanks to an interception from rookie DB Joseph Crawley.  However, the Pirates’ offense failed to capitalise on this and were forced to punt.  The Wildcats again handed the ball back after a failed 4th down attempt and then on the Pirates second play of their second drive, disaster struck.  Last season’s MVP and game day captain, running back Jack Cochrane, made a signature, sweeping run for good yardage, only to pick up a nasty ankle injury after an innocuous tackle on the sideline.  This led to a long injury delay whilst he received treatment from the medics on site.

The game restarted and the loss of their talisman seemed to spark life in the Pirates.  A courageous, 45 yard clutch pass from Scott McKigen to rookie receiver Michael Paton on 4th down, set up 1st and goal.  From there Rory Hutton ran in for the TD, with Mathew Black adding on the 2PAT, bringing the 1st quarter to an end at 0-8 Pirates.

In the 2nd quarter, EKP’s impressive run game behind the ever-solid O-line started moving through the gears.  After a long drive from their own 7 yard line, aided by some defensive penalties, it was left to Mathew’s twin brother, Greg Black to run in the TD from 30 yards with Michael Paton adding the 2PAT from a pass from McKigen.

The Wildcats next drive lasted only two plays before Duncan ‘Donuts’ Doherty made an acrobatic interception and set up good field position for the Pirate’s offensive canons.  Some strong running and flags for pass interference and a personal foul, took the pirates to 1st and goal again.  The Black Brothers then became the Chuckle Brothers, channelling the famous “from me, to you” routine – with Mathew Black running in for the score.

The first half ended with the Wildcats threatening the Pirate’s goal line, only for Crawley to strip the ball from the Wildcat’s receiver’s grasp, when a score looked inevitable. Crawley then recovered the fumble and the teams went in at 0-22 to EKP.

EKP started the 2nd half brightly after receiving the kick, with McKigen again connecting with Paton for a 65 yard touchdown, showing the Pirates’ aerial bombardment ability in addition to their pound and ground run offense.

Pirates are used to the ebb and flow of the ocean, and knowing what a strong outfit the Wildcats are, it should have been no surprise that they were going to try to turn the tide and get themselves back in the game.  Wildcats QB Stuart Sandison connected with Sean McWilliams for their opening TD, with a successful 2PAT follow up.  Bringing the score to 8-28.

This seemed to unsettle the Pirates and after a quick 4 and out the Wildcats were on the scoreboard again.  With Sandison passing to number 10, Jarlath Riley, who pulled in an outrageous, one-handed catch and ran the ball into the endzone.

On the Pirates next drive a fumble handed the ball back to the Wildcats who seemed to have taken the wind from the Pirates’ sails as they drove down the 2 yard line just as the 3rd quarter came to a close.  The momentum was now truly in the Wildcat’s favour and it was down to the Pirate’s defense to find their sea-legs and make a stand.  And wow, did they just do exactly that!  Excellent work from boys in the trenches stopped the Wildcats from punching in the score while the backs covered the aerial threat effectively.  Superb effort from the D, cheered loudly by the Pirates’ large traveling support.

That goal line stand in turn reignited the Pirates’ offense and after a lung busting 68 yard run from his own endzone to the Wildcats’ 30 yard line, Mathew Black set up a strong field position.  A few plays later it was 1st and goal from the 2, and the turn of Robbie MacGregor to score a TD with help from the Pirates’ O-line who pushed him through the plane.  Hutton added a further 2PAT to the Pirates’ tally, bringing the game to 14-36 in their favour well into the 4th quarter, and hopefully giving them plain sailing to the end of the game – or so they thought.

Four plays later the Wildcats scored again, Sandison passing to number 82 Alex Roberts Devine, who thoroughly deserved his TD after very good performance throughout the game.  The score now stood at 20-36.

With the clock against them, the Wildcats attempted on-side kick, failed to go the necessary 10 yards and gave the Pirates good field position for their next drive.  Just when it looked like the offense were going to grind the game out, a fumble gave the Wildcats the ball back and possibly some hope.

That hope soon faded however as the Pirates’ defense stood firm, forcing the Wildcats to 4 and out.  From there it was left to Mathew Black to put the cherry on the top of EKP’s empire biscuit with another rushing TD from 55 yards, stretching the Pirates’ lead to 20-42.

The game ended with the Wildcats fumbling and Lewis Joyce recovering for the visitors.

The Pirates’ post-match celebration was compounded with the news that Captain Jack would be released from hospital and able to join them on the bus back to the home port of East Kilbride.

The Pirates’ Junior team’s next game is Sunday 12 May at home to Yorkshire Academy Assassins as part of a double-header with the senior team, who’re playingg against the Yorkshire Academy Rams in a BAFA NFC1 fixture at GHA Rugby Club in Giffnock.  Head along for a great day of football with the juniors kicking off at 12pm and the seniors at 3pm. Free entry to the junior game, and £3 entry for the senior game (U16s go free!).

Game report by Kerr Girvan


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