Opening day win as Pirates return to Premier Division
April 18th, 2023
Merseyside Nighthawks 00 – East Kilbride Pirates 34
With their off-season woes behind them, East Kilbride opened their 2023 campaign with a visit to Merseyside Nighthawks. The Pirates tried to catch the home side napping by going for an onside-kick on the opening kick off. Unfortunately the ball trundled out of play, leaving Merseyside with great field position. They failed to take advantage and a Ker Stuart interception quickly ended the drive. Both defences held the upper hand in the early exchanges with offensive momentum at a minimum. Late in the period however, East Kilbride broke the deadlock on their third possession. QB Neil Baptie converted on 3rd Down when he found wide receiver Fraser McDonald with a 47-yard scoring pass. Scott McDonald converted and the Pirates held a 7-0 lead which they took into the second quarter.
The second period continued in much the same vein, with neither side coming close to scoring and the first half ended with the score still showing a 7 point advantage to the visitors. The third period started with the teams exchanging punts before EK increased their advantage. A 9-play drive was rounded off by a 9-yard pass by Baptie to Gus McIntosh in the corner of the endzone. McDonald converted once more for a 14-0 lead. A Ryan Miller interception brought the Nighthawks’ response to a premature end and the Pirates retained possession as the game moved into the final quarter.
On the first play after the turn around Baptie again connected with McDonald, this time from 55 yards, with the big receiver dragging defenders into the endzone in his determination to score. The
PAT was good once more as the Pirates started to edge clear. A Rob Hayes fumble recovery soon had the ball back in EK hands, but on this occasion they had to settle for a 21-yard field goal by Scott McDonald. Another Merseyside fumble, this time recovered by Kilian Voigt, immediately regained possession at the 6-yard line. From there, Neil Baptie comfortably ran the ball into the endzone, and that, along with McDonald’s PAT stretched the lead to 31-0. McDonald later closed out the game with another field goal (27 yards).
So a winning start for the Pirates, but still plenty of room for improvement as they prepare for sterner tests throughout the season. Game MVP honours went to linebacker Liam Coyle.
Next up is the first Home game of the season, and it’s against nearest rivals, the Edinburgh Wolves on May 7 kicking off at 2pm at GHA Rugby Club.
Game report by Bill Campbell
Photos courtesy Duncolm Sports Photography
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