Article by Tom Green…
The Highland Wildcats went down to Doncaster on Saturday and became the 3rd team in Youth Britbowl History to retain their UK Championship. During the tournament the Wildcats managed to score 120 points whilst only concerning 51. So without further ado, here is the story of Britbowl XXIX.
Highland Wildcats 34-19 Kent Exiles
Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster
|1st Half||2nd Half||Final Score|
HW 6-0 KE – Euan Crawford to Stig McArthur (Wildcats) 24 Yard Passing Touchdown
HW 8-0 KE – Stephen McMeechan (Wildcats) Safety
HW 14-0 KE – Mark Pyper (Wildcats) 45 Yard Rushing Touchdown
HW 20-0 KE – Euan Crawford to Mark Pyper (Wildcats) 2 Yard Passing Touchdown
HW 22-0 KE – Euan Crawford to Stig McArthur (Wildcats) 2 Extra Points
HW 22-6 KE – Jack Street (Exiles) Touchdown
HW 28-6 KE – Euan Crawford to Stig McArthur (Wildcats) 2 Yard Passing Touchdown
HW 28-12 KE – Sam Crawford (Exiles) 45 Yard Rushing Touchdown
HW 34-12 KE – Alex Roberts (Wildcats) 21 Yard Rushing Touchdown
HW 34-18 KE – Sam Crawford (Exiles) 45 Yard Rushing Touchdown
HW 34-19 KE – Exiles Extra Point
The Wildcats started off their defense of Britbowl against last year’s runners up the Kent Exiles in a re-run of Britbowl XXVIII. Last year the Wildcats won the encounter 22-13 after going behind 7-6 at half time.
The Wildcats started off the game strongly by scoring on their opening drive when Euan Crawford threw a 24 yard passing touchdown to wide receiver Stig McArthur. The extra point attempt which followed the touchdown was no good but it was the start that the Wildcats needed to take control of the game.
On the following drive the defense forced the Exiles back onto their one yard line and then scored a safety when linebacker Corin Robinson tackled the Exiles running back in the endzone. The Wildcats as a result of this then had possession of the ball and took advantage of it straight away with a 45 yard rushing touchdown from veteran running back Mark Pyper. The conversion attempt was no good but it put the reigning champions in a domineering position.
The Exiles were shut out on the following drive which gave the Wildcats possession of the ball. They then used this immediately to great effect with two big rushing plays by running back Kyle Holleyoake (the first was a 29 yard run and the second was a 13 yard run) to set up another touchdown. This touchdown was thrown by Euan Crawford to Mark Pyper to increase the Wildcats lead to 20. The 2 point conversion attempt which followed was successful as Crawford found Stig McArthur in the endzone. This was the final score of the half and it meant that the Wildcats went into half time 22-0 up.
Kent seemingly dead and buried started to stage a comeback and were the first to score in the first half. This touchdown was scored by Exiles player Jack Street. The conversion attempt which followed was no good but it put the Exiles back into contention. Unfortunately for Kent though Euan Crawford and his offense had different ideas and moved the ball to the Exiles 2 yard line where Crawford threw a 2 yard touchdown pass to receiver Stig McArthur. The conversion attempt was no good but it meant that the Wildcats had an unassailable lead.
The Exiles didn’t give up though and scored again when Exiles running back Sam Crawford ran for a 45 yard touchdown on a break away. The conversion attempt was no good but it put the Wildcats in a weaker position. Unfortunately for Kent the Wildcats scored another touchdown this time it was by rookie running back Alex Roberts with a 21 yard rush. Kent then went on to score one more touchdown on a breakaway run when Sam Crawford ran the length of the field (the 1pt conversion attempt was good) but it was unfortunately for them too little, too late.
Results in the other Quarter Finals
Buckinghamshire Wolves 44-12 Leeds Academy Assassins
Woodham Warriors 32-6 Solent Thrashers
Chorley Buccaneers 13-19 East Kilbride Pirates
Highland Wildcats 24-18 Buckinghamshire Wolves
The Arena, Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster
|1st Half||2nd Half||Final Score|
HW 0-6 BW – Ben Thomas (Wolves) 45 Yard Rushing Touchdown
HW 6-6 BW – Euan Crawford to Stig McArthur (Wildcats) 15 Yard Passing Touchdown
HW 6-12 BW – Ben Thomas (Wolves) 45 Yard Rushing Touchdown
HW 6-18 BW – Ben Thomas (Wolves) Rushing Touchdown
HW 12-18 BW – Euan Crawford to Stig McArthur (Wildcats) 31 Yard Passing Touchdown
HW 18-18 BW – Kyle Holleyoake (Wildcats) 29 Yard Rushing Touchdown
HW 24-18 BW – Euan Crawford to Stig McArthur (Wildcats) 25 Yard Passing Touchdown
The Wildcats entered the stadium for their semi final encounter with the top seeded Buckinghamshire Wolves knowing that this was going to be one of their biggest obstacles to overcome. Victory in this game would send a message to the other teams in the tournament that the Wildcats meant business. On a side note due to competition rules the Wildcats had to play the semi final in white jerseys which were kindly offered to us by the London Blitz to use in the game.
Unfortunately for Robbie Paulin’s men it didn’t start off to well as Buckinghamshire opened the scoring with a 45 yard rushing touchdown from dangerous running back Ben Thomas. The conversion attempt which followed was unsuccessful but this drive showed the Wildcats why they were such a domineering team in the regular season. The Wildcats however were not intimidated and slowly but surely progressed the ball up field with strong rushes from Mark Pyper and Stephen McMeechan. This passage of play set up Euan Crawford who then threw a 15 yard passing touchdown to Stig McArthur to level up the scores. The Wildcats extra point attempt was unsuccessful but it would prove to be crucial later on in the game.
The Wolves then continued to give the Invernessians a battering and Ben Thomas scored another 45 yard rushing touchdown. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful. On the following drive the Wildcats continued to grind their way up field with strong runs from Kyle Holleyoake but no matter how hard they tried they couldn’t quite find the end zone for the rest of the half. Unfortunately for the Wildcats the Wolves could and once again Ben Thomas scored another rushing touchdown to leave the scores at half time 18-6 to the Wolves.
Up against all odds the Wildcats started to find their rhythm and started grinding out the yards with Kyle Holleyoake taking the biggest battering on offense to set up another Wildcats touchdown which was scored by Crawford who threw a 31 yard touchdown pass to McArthur. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful but it put the Wildcats right back into the game. The defensive unit then started to take control of the game by eliminating the break away runs due to excellent work from Robinson and McMeechan to effectively eliminate the running game.
Following this defensive domination Kyle Holleyoake grinded out even more yards to set up himself on the Wildcats 21 yard line. From here he found a gap in the defense and rushed 29 yards to score his first touchdown of Britbowl. The scores were now level and the tension started to build up on both sidelines with neither one of the defenses relenting.
It looked like it would go down to overtime but then Euan Crawford threw a 25 yard touchdown pass down the field to Stig McArthur to take the lead. The side line erupted with noise and the Wildcats now only needed to see off a few Wolves attacks to get into the final. Luckily for the Wildcats the defense stepped up and shut them down leaving the score 24-18 to the Wildcats at the final whistle.
Other Semi Final Result
Woodham Warriors 18-14 East Kilbride Pirates
Highland Wildcats 62-14 Woodham Warriors
The Arena, Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster
|1st Half||2nd Half||Final Score|
HW 2-0 WW – Stephen McMeechan (Wildcats) Safety
HW 8-0 WW – Euan Crawford to Stig McArthur (Wildcats) 12 Yard Passing Touchdown
HW 14-0 WW – Euan Crawford to Stig McArthur (Wildcats) 39 Yard Passing Touchdown
HW 20-0 WW – Kyle Holleyoake (Wildcats) 25 Yard Rushing Touchdown
HW 22-0 WW – Euan Crawford to Colin Hamilton (Wildcats) 2 Extra Points
HW 24-0 WW – Corin Robinson (Wildcats) Safety
HW 30-0 WW – Euan Crawford to Lewis Hilditch (Wildcats) 28 Yard Passing Touchdown
HW 36-0 WW – Euan Crawford to Mark Pyper (Wildcats) 2 Yard Passing Touchdown
HW 36-6 WW – Thomas Gallagher to James Rawe (Warriors) Passing Touchdown
HW 42-6 WW – Mark Pyper to Stephen McMeechan (Wildcats) 32 Yard Passing Touchdown
HW 44-6 WW – Mark Pyper to Ally Gibson (Wildcats) 2 Extra Points
HW 50-6 WW – Connel Kelly to Ryan Lee-Topp (Wildcats) 40 Yard Passing Touchdown
HW 56-6 WW – Kyle Holleyoake (Wildcats) 45 Yard Rushing Touchdown
HW 56-12 WW – Thomas Gallagher to Flyn Leybourne (Warriors) Passing Touchdown
HW 56-14 WW – Warriors 2 Extra Points
HW 62-14 WW – Mark Pyper (Wildcats) 45 Yard Rushing Touchdown
One hour after the victory over the Buckinghamshire Wolves the Wildcats returned to the stadium to play in youth Britbowl XXIX. The Wildcats have played the Warriors once before in the final of Britbowl back in 2011 where the team won 38-34 in a true nail biter which went down to the last 6 seconds. Unfortunately for the the Warriors this final was a bit of a walk over for the reigning champions.
On the opening drive of the game Stephen McMeechan made his presence known immediately by getting behind the line of scrimmage and got held in the endzone. This resulted in the Wildcats getting a safety and possession of the football. It didn’t take long for the Wildcats to use that possession as Euan Crawford threw a 12 yard touchdown pass to Stig McArthur for the opening touchdown of the game. The Warriors offense were unable to score during the first half and the Wildcats made them pay by scoring 22 more points before the end of the half.
The first of these points was scored by Euan Crawford who threw a 39 yard passing touchdown to Stig McArthur (the conversion which followed was no good). Following this touchdown Kyle Holleyoake decided that he wanted a bit of the action and rushed in for a 25 yard rushing touchdown. This was then converted by Euan Crawford who threw a 12 yard pass to Colin Hamilton for 2 extra points.
Throughout the game whilst the defense was on the field the Wildcats sideline was a wall of noise that helped the team stop the Warriors offense from being effective. Corin Robinson stepped up throughout the tournament and scored a safety after Kyle’s touchdown which also gave the ball back to the offense. This was then used to great effect with rookie Alex Roberts and 2nd year running back Kyle Holleyoake slowly setting up the offense on the Warriors 16 yard line. Whilst here Euan Crawford threw a 16 yard pass down field to rookie receiver Lewis Hilditch to score another touchdown. The conversion attempt was no good but it left the score at half time 30-0 in favor of the Wildcats.
The Wildcats continued to dominate in the second half. The first of their second half touchdowns was scored by Crawford once again who threw a 2 yard pass to Mark Pyper to increase the Highland lead. After this score the Warriors finally managed to make a break through Thomas Gallagher who managed to find James Rawe in the endzone for a Woodham touchdown. Unfortunately for Woodham this didn’t change the momentum of the game as the Wildcats kept on scoring.
The next Wildcats touchdown was scored on an option play (In this case where the ball is given to the running back in the back field to either pass or run with it) where Mark Pyper threw a 32 yard pass to Stephen McMeechan for a touchdown. On the extra point attempt which followed the Wildcats ran another option play where Ally Gibson received a 12 yard pass from running back Mark Pyper for two extra points. The had already played some rookies in the first half but now took on some of the dedicated development players such as up and coming quarterback Connel Kelly who on his first ever pass in a UK Championship threw a glorious 40 yard touchdown pass to Ryan Lee-Topp for a touchdown.
Following this touchdown and a Woodham offensive drive Kyle Holleyoake stepped up and delivered a 45 yard rushing touchdown to give the Wildcats a 50 point lead. It wasn’t all doom and gloom for Warriors as they managed to get a consolation touchdown when Thomas Gallagher threw a pass to Flyn Leybourne (the two point conversion attempt which followed was good) but it wasn’t enough to change the outcome of the game.
Following this touchdown Mark Pyper played his last play at youth level and ran in for a 45 yard rushing touchdown to complete the job and bring back the championship.
3rd Place Playoff
East Kilbride Pirates 20-74 Buckinghamshire Wolves
5th Place Playoff
Leeds Academy Assassins 24-36 Solent Thrashers
7th Place Playoff
Chorley Buccanneers 7-19 Kent Exiles