Pirates Edge It In Nail-biting Finish
June 15th, 2023
East Kilbride Pirates 14 – Leicester Panthers 13
In Sunday’s early kick off, the Pirates junior side set the tone for the day with an impressive 59-0 win over Manchester Titans that included 4 TD’s for running back Oscar Lai and 3 for wide receiver Arran McDonald. There were also scores for Ben Grove and Jackson McCawley.
Possibly inspired by the Under 19’s, the Senior side got off to a quick start and took the lead on their second possession. After a short Leicester punt went out of bounds at midfield, EK put together a sharp, 5-play drive capped by a 7-yard pass by Cameron Dunn to Struan Bailey. Scott McDonald duly added the PAT for a 7-0 lead. The home side were in the driving seat but couldn’t press home their advantage. A 41-yard Field Goal attempt by McDonald was blocked at the line of scrimmage and the period later ended with a Dunn pass being picked off by the Panthers.
The visitors capitalised on the turn over and leveled the scores with an 18-yard pass by Tom Jarratt to Matt Allinson and the subsequent Extra Point by Will Brooks was good. Neither team threatened the endzone for the remainder of the second quarter and they went in all square at half time.
Despite an early Kilian Voigt interception, the Pirates couldn’t generate any sustained offensive momentum as the seemingly endless third quarter dragged on. They were gifted an opportunity however when a Leicester punt rebounded off one of their own linemen and Brodie McDonald fell on the loose ball at the Panthers 15-yard line. It took just two Dougie Meechan carries to reach the endzone, scoring from 12 yards. McDonald again converted to restore the home side’s advantage.
Unfortunately East Kilbride also had their own tale of woe in the punting game. A long snap sailed way over Scott McDonald’s head, and although he recovered the loose ball, it gave Leicester great field position at the 5-yard line. Despite holding out for the first three Downs, the home defence was breached when Jarratt ran the ball home on 4th-and-goal from the 2. Brooks conversion attempt was pushed wide of the left upright, leaving EK with the narrowest of leads as the third quarter ended.
In a tense final quarter the game ebbed and flowed as possession changed hands several times. On one play a Dunn pass was intercepted, only for the returner to fumble the ball and see it recovered by Max Barry. Leicester’s next drive also saw them cough up the ball. Sean Dickie forcing the fumble that was recovered by Aaron Callaghan. East Kilbride were last to have possession and were happy to let the clock run out for the win.
The MVP Award was shared by Lineman Rob Hayes who played both ways throughout the game and Struan Bailey for an impressive display at wide receiver, particularly with yards after the catch.
Next weekend, all roads lead to Manchester. On Saturday (17th) the EKP Women’s team take on tournament host Manchester Titans and Teesside Steelers. Then on Sunday the Juniors have their return fixture before the seniors face the reigning Britball Champions at Belle Vue stadium.
Report by Bill Campbell
Photos courtest Duncolm Sports Photography. You can find a full gallery here.
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