Article by Tom Green…
Last weekend the Highland Wildcats traveled down to Doncaster and won BritBowl XXVIII, achieving the ambitious goal set by head coach Robbie Paulin at the start of the season. They also managed to achieve a perfect season by not losing any of their 15 games throughout the campaign. Here is the story of the tournament.
Highland Wildcats 25-13 Pennine Panthers
Grass Pitch 3, Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster
|1ST HALF||2ND HALF||FINAL SCORE|
HW 6-0 PP – Seumas Ross (Wildcats) 11 Yard Rushing Touchdown
HW 12-0 PP – Seumas Ross (Wildcats) 12 Yard Rushing Touchdown
HW 13-0 PP – Mark Pyper (Wildcats) 1 Extra Point
HW 19-0 PP – Stig McArthur (Wildcats) Defensive Touchdown
HW 19-6 PP – Victor Oderinde (Panthers) Rushing Touchdown
HW 19-12 PP – Daniel Wester (Panthers) Receiving Touchdown
HW 19-13 PP – Tyler Broad (Panthers) 1 Extra Point
HW 25-13 PP – Seumas Ross (Wildcats) 38 Yard Receiving Touchdown
The Wildcats went into the first game of Britbowl not knowing what to expect as the Panthers managed to knock out the Woodham Warriors in the playoffs during their qualification.
The Panthers had possession of the ball during the first drive of the game but they couldn’t get out of their half of the field due to the pressure put on them by Stephen McMeechan and both Wildcats corner backs. When the Scottish Champions turned the ball over on downs they immediately put the Panthers under pressure and it resulted in Seumas Ross rushing the ball in for a 12 yard touchdown. This put the score at 6-0.
The Panthers then managed to get the ball into the Wildcats half and started to earn field position with a strong rushing game. However Jordan Anderson at linebacker didn’t relent and managed to stop the Panthers running backs from getting close to the end-zone which eventually led to the ball being turned over. When the Highlanders got the ball back, Euan Crawford threw the ball 33 yards to Mark Pyper on 3rd down to put the team in a healthy field position. From here Ross rushed 12 yards to score his second touchdown of the day. Pyper then received added an extra point onto the board and put the Wildcats 13-0 ahead.
On the very next play after the touchdown Stig McArthur intercepted a loose pass from the Panthers Quarterback to score only his second defensive touchdown of the campaign. Unfortunately the conversion attempt was no good but the score was now 19-0 and it looked bleak for the Pennine Panthers. The Panthers however were not going to give up that easily and on the following drive they scored there first points of the game with a huge rush by Victor Oderinde before the end of the half to leave the score at 19-6. The Panthers then stopped the Invernessians on the following set of downs to end the half 19-6 to the Wildcats.
The Momentum stayed with the team from Yorkshire in the second half as they managed to get back possession of the ball by intercepting Crawford. They then followed up the interception with a touchdown 3 plays later as Daniel Lester managed to receive the ball in the endzone for a touchdown. The extra point was complete as Tyler Broad caught a difficult catch for the Panthers in the Wildcats endzone. This put the score at 19-13 and meant the game was going to have a tight ending.
TheHighland Wildcats offense however didn’t panic and scored one of the touchdowns of the day when Crawford launched the ball up field into the hands of Seumas Ross to score a 38 yard receiving touchdown. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful but as the score was now 25-13 the Panthers would have to score twice without reply in able to win the game.
The Wildcats defense was not going to allow that to happen and the squad stepped up their game. On the following set of downs Pyper and Anderson shut down the Panthers running game giving the Wildcats possession of the ball with not much time remaining on the clock.
The last drives of the game were shut out by the Wildcats defense and the game ended 25-13 to the Wildcats. This meant that they had to play the Cornish Sharks in the semi finals to earn a spot in the final.
Scores in the other Quarter Finals
East Kilbride Pirates 12-6 Marlow Wolves
Kent Exiles 19-12 Leicester Falcons
Cornish Sharks 27-21 Chorley Buccaneers
Highland Wildcats 40-27 Cornish Sharks
Grass Pitch 2, Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster
|1ST HALF||2ND HALF||FINAL SCORE|
HW 6-0 CS – Seumas Ross (Wildcats) 23 Yard Receiving Touchdown
HW 8-0 CS – Mark Pyper (Wildcats) 2 Extra Points
HW 8-6 CS – Ben Tyler-Guy (Sharks) Touchdown
HW 14-6 CS – Seumas Ross (Wildcats) 45 Yard Rushing Touchdown
HW 20-6 CS – Seumas Ross (Wildcats) 45 Yard Rushing Touchdown
HW 22-6 CS – Mark Pyper (Wildcats) 2 Extra Points
HW 28-6 CS – Mark Pyper (Wildcats) 2 Yard Receiving Touchdown
HW 34-6 CS – Seumas Ross (Wildcats) 45 Yard Rushing Touchdown
HW 34-12 CS – Ben Tyler-Guy (Sharks) Touchdown
HW 40-12 CS – Mark Pyper (Wildcats) 19 Yard Rushing Touchdown
HW 40-18 CS – Ben Tyler-Guy (Sharks) Touchdown
HW 40-20 CS – Richard Scorse (Sharks) 2 Extra Points
HW 40-26 CS – Ben Tyler-Guy (Sharks) Touchdown
HW 40-27 CS – SHARKS 2 Extra Points
After the quarter final victory the Wildcats went on to face the Cornish Sharks in the semi finals of Britbowl. This game, as well as being for a place in the championship game, was also between the most northern team in Britain and the most Southern team in the BAFANL (Newquay – home of the Sharks – and Inverness are separated by 486 miles of British mainland).
The Wildcats, on a high from their victory over the Panthers, started off the game well with Seumas Ross receiving a 23 yard pass from Euan Crawford to open the scoring. Mark Pyper then scored two extra points and the score became 8-0 to the Highlanders.
On the next drive the sharks responded quickly with a touchdown from Ben Tyler-Guy despite the Wildcats nose tackle Stephen McMeechan forcing a fumble on 3rd down of the drive. The Cornishmen were unable to convert the extra point attempt which meant the Highland Wildcats still had the lead in the game.
Seumas Ross on the play after the cornish touchdown rushed the full length of the field to score his 5th touchdown of the tournament. The conversion attempt may have been incomplete but the touchdown meant that the Sharks would have to score two touchdowns to stay in spitting distance of the Scottish champions.
The Sharks and Wildcats then cancelled each other out in the next two drives and it left the Wildcats on the ball with little time remaining till the half time interval. Ross then rushed the full length of the field for yet another touchdown. This time the two point conversion attempt was successful (Mark Pyper was the scorer) and it left the score at half time at 22-6 to the Wildcats.
The Highland side then continued to show their dominance in the game by two touchdowns without reply. The first of which was scored by Mark Pyper who received a 2 yard pass from Crawford. The second of the touchdowns was another 45 yard rush by Seumas Ross who was on top form throughout the tournament.
The Sharks did eventually score a second touchdown due to a well executed pass from the Sharks quarterback but this touchdown did not swing the game back in there favor.
Mark Pyper ended up scoring his second touchdown of the game when he rushed 12 yards past the tired Cornish defense. Unfortunately the conversion attempt was no good but it didn’t really matter as they were leading 40-12 late into the second half.
The Sharks were not however going to give up and Ben Tyler-Guy got into the right positions at the right time to score two more touchdowns. One touchdown was converted for two extra points and the second was converted for just the one. This changed the momentum of the game in the Sharks favor.
Unfortunately for the Sharks it was too little, too late and by the time the final whistle has blown the score was 40-27 to the Highland Wildcats. The Wildcats would then go on to play the Kent Exiles in the championship game.
The Score in the other Semi Final
Kent Exiles 12-6 East Kilbride Pirates (The game went to sudden death)
Highland Wildcats 22-13 Kent Exiles
The Arena, Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster
|1ST HALF||2ND HALF||FINAL SCORE|
HW 6-0 KE – Seumas Ross (Wildcats) 12 Yard Rushing Touchdown
HW 6-6 KE – Jay Vijayshankar (Exiles) Touchdown
HW 6-7 KE – Exiles Extra Point
HW 12-7 KE – Jordan Anderson (Wildcats) Defensive Touchdown
HW 14-7 KE – Stephen McMeechan (WIldcats) Safety
HW 20-7 KE – Seumas Ross (Wildcats) 4 Yard Rushing Touchdown
HW 22-7 KE – Mark Pyper (Wildcats) 2 Extra Points
HW 22-13 KE – Jay Vijayshankar (Exiles) Touchdown
After a long and entertaining day of youth football it all came down to the final game in which a year of hard work and sacrifice would be tested. For many of the young Wildcats squad this would be the first time they have played in a stadium but the rookie players were not unnerved by the daunting experience.
The first three drives of the game were nervous affairs for both teams with the Wildcats defensive unit holding their own thanks to top class performances from Haris Ryalls and Jordan Anderson who delivered unrelenting hits onto the opposition. The game remained scoreless as both teams went into the two minute warning.
The Highland Wildcats managed to open the scoring just after the two minute warning when Seumas Ross scored a 17 yard rushing touchdown to lift the spirits of the tiring team. However the Invernessians decided to go for a two point conversion and it was unsuccessful but the score was now 6-0 to the Scottish champions.
The Exiles then made the Wildcats pay for the conversion attempt when Jay Vijashankar scored a touchdown which was then converted for a one extra point. For the first time in the playoffs the Wildcats were behind. The score remained 7-6 to the Exiles as the teams went into the half time break.
The Highland defense then went onto the field to attempt to stop the Exiles from gaining positive yardage and Stephen McMeechan produced a vital sack which changed the momentum of the game.
On the following drive the Wildcats were turned over on downs but the defense had sparked into life. Two plays after the turnover, Jordan Anderson recovered a loose ball from the Exiles and scored a spectacular defensive touchdown to put the Highlanders back in the lead. They may have failed to score the conversion attempt which followed but more importantly than that they had a lead.
Two drives later on the first play of the 12th drive of the game Stephen McMeechan tackled the Exiles in the endzone for a safety. As well as getting the two points for the safety the Highland offense now had an opportunity to use the ball. This resulted in a 5 play drive resulting in Seumas Ross scoring a touchdown from the Exiles 4 yard line. Mark Pyper then converted the touchdown for 2 points and the score was 22-7 as the teams went into the two minute warning.
The Exiles then pushed the defense to the limits and Jay Vijashankar ended up scoring another touchdown for the Exiles. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful but the score was 22-13 and the game was out of reach for the South East division champions.
On the next drive the Wildcats took a knee for the remaining plays of the game to run the clock down.
The Wildcats were crowned UK champions and returned home 24 hours later with the Britbowl in hand to a fantastic welcome from family and friends!
Article by Tom Green…