Pirates dial up conference call to promotion

August 22nd, 2022

Leicester Falcons 21 – East Kilbride Pirates 29

After securing the Divisional title last week, East Kilbride added the Division 1 Northern Conference crown on Sunday, bringing with it promotion to the Premier Division for 2023.

For the second successive game, the Pirates got off to a whirlwind start. Andrew McBride returned the opening kick off out to the EK 38-yard line, and on the first play from scrimmage Quarterback Neil Baptie connected with Struan Bailey for a 52-yard touchdown and Scott McDonald added the extra point. The Falcons went 3-and-out on their opening drive and the visitors quickly doubled their advantage. A 4-play drive ended with Baptie finding Fraser McDonald from 34 yards. Another PAT made it 14-0 in the early stages. After the initial shock, Leicester started to come back into the game, and they reduced the deficit late in the period. A 36-yard pass completion from Yassin Kap found Matt Allinson in the endzone, and although the conversion failed, the Falcons were back in the contest.

The game became much tighter in the second quarter. Leicester had a 41-yard Field Goal attempt, but Danny Burton’s kick was pushed wide right. Later in the period, a Falcons’ pass was batted at the line of scrimmage and recovered by Elliot Sorbie. This set the Pirates up for their third TD of the game. Four successive carries by running back Greg Black moved the ball inside the red zone before Baptie went back to the air. A 4-yard scoring pass to McDonald rounded off the drive, and namesake Scott McDonald tagged on the PAT. The third member of the clan, Brodie McDonald then picked off a Leicester pass to maintain EK’s 21-6 advantage at the break.

The home side received the kick off to the second half and immediately set about getting themselves back into contention. A 6-play drive concluded with a 26-yard TD pass from Kap to Jax Crawford and the 2-point conversion pass was also successful. On the second play of the Pirates’ next drive, a Baptie pass was intercepted, leaving the Falcons with a short field. Leicester needed just three attempts to score, with Kap again doing the damage, this time finding Sam Jenkins with a 13-yard pass. Burton converted to tie the scores at 21-21.

However, just as momentum appeared to be swinging in the Falcon’s favour, East Kilbride hit back. A measured drive moved the ball steadily upfield, reaching the 23-yard line. Baptie then passed to TE Rob Hayes who was tackled short of the goal line. He refused to go down though, and with the aid of his offensive line, pushed the pile all the way into the endzone. A penalty on Leicester made the conversion shorter, so the Pirates went for the 2-point version, which Baptie comfortably carried home.

The final period was a tense affair, with the Pirates’ defence repelling all attempts by the home side. As the clock ticked down, late interceptions by Connor Zahariev and then Ker Stuart allowed EK to hold on for a hard fought win.

Having secured the Northern Conference, East Kilbride will now face their Southern counterparts, the Cambridgeshire Cats in the Division 1 Bowl game at New River Stadium in London on Sunday 4th September

The coaching staff were unable to pick just one MVP on a day when so many players shone. Eventually they agreed to split the award three ways. The Distell International Game MVP award was shared among O-Line/D-Lineman  Mark Stewart, Tight End/D-Lineman Rob Hayes and Defensive Back Ker Stuart.

Report by Bill Campbell
Photos courtesy Katie Stepek


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