The biggest game of the season. The loser of this Roses 2017 preview would end the season with a losing record and would be subject of all the trash talk leading up to Varsity. Storm Doris had battered Lancaster’s field but realistically it isn’t proper BUCs football if you don’t sink a few inches into the pitch every step. Starting QB Tom Lathem remained on IR for the fixture as did CB Zyen Ubaid and star DT Joe Atkinson, a couple of rookies stepped into the lineup and took up the Centurion standard.
The opening kickoff got the tracks rolling with a nice return from WR Yuki Shiroo and some violent blocking. Offence were in no mood for niceties as a short pass freed up WR Max York to skip through the Bombers defence. He was brought down by the Bombers Cornerback that had failed to cover him initially, his pursuit was filled by nothing but guilt and embarrassment. York threatened to stall on the one yard line but RB Kevwe Uwotu didn’t fancy that and forced the ball in for the opening score. FS (Now maybe Fullback) Stephen Bates came in for the goal line heavy set and helped C Alan Gray and LG Ben Grainger (returning to face his former team as an honourary captain) clear a way for big FB/RB/QB Dalton Weir to slam home to the two point conversion.
The Bombers did not lie down however, they but together a good drive. Their pulling guard swept up LB Andrew Chudnovsky and exposed a gap which the running back hit at speed. He displayed surprising elusiveness for one of the smaller backs we’ve faced. The Bombers drove to the nine yard line before LB Dan Denby forced a fumble but could not recover it for an important turnover. Lancaster out foxed the York Defence with a QB Keeper, Bates channelled his inner torpedo (Having been raised in the Harry Rackham school of tackling) and halted him at the one yard line. Big DT Satnaam Singh came in for the goal line stand, Lancaster responded with a dreadful High-Low block that saw their TD get chalked off and were given a 15 yard penalty flag instead. Ultimately York’s defence stood firm.
Dalton Weir had a couple of nice plays including dropping the boom on to a Bomber in the hole for a nice 4th down conversion. Rookie RB Jacob Bilborrow clocked his first career reception on a very dodgy tipped pass, he went full deer in the headlights after catching it and got drilled. The Bombers recovered possession and drove downfield to score, again finding joy as the run gaps weren’t getting stuffed quickly enough, the two point attempt was dropped by their wideout. What followed was a bit of a farce, York stuffed Lancaster with minutes to go in the half. Lancaster’s punt unit came on as did York’s return team. However due to some negligent Chain Crew officiating (I am only allowed to say that they were supplied by Lancaster) it somehow remained 3rd down after a lengthy conversation from the officials. This extra down was inevitably converted into a huge first down pass and then another for a long pass brought up a score for the Bombers who took a 14-8. Details deliberately vague, there was an incident after the Touchdown that resulted in a lot of penalty yards and an ejection. This also meant Lancaster kicked off at the Centurions own 30 yard line, as coaches and players desperately attempted to line up an onside unit the kick sailed out of bounds and the penalty flags rained down. A very British University American Football play if there ever was one. The Bombers took their lead into half time and seemed to have some sort of dance off to celebrate it.
The second half was a midfield joust for much of it. Max York resumed kick return duty as Shiroo received a nasty knock. The Bombers Steams player had been watching a little too much NFL as he attempted to stop a punt rolling into the endzone by popping it up in the air. It went straight to Max York who rumbled 40 yards down field after CB Ben Faulkner blindsided a bomber and knocked him into next week, Bates also blocked a Bomber into the Centurions players box. Sadly one Lancaster player slipped through and brought Max York down to stop him scoring what could have been a 99 yard touchdown. Offense then kicked into gear again, the Offensive Line who had struggled with Lancaster’s pash rush and six front all game gave QB Theo Hewit a clean pocket to throw from and he popped one to the back of the Endzone. Max York was already being tackled way before the ball arrived but he extended out a single paw and plucked the ball out of the air. After rolling over and the referee seeing he maintained possession, the touchdown was signalled and York were back at level pegging. A questionable play call for the two point conversion saw Hewit get knocked out the game. Step forward rookie Dalton Weir.
The referees called for calm and sportsmanship as the speaking captains went out for the coin toss. Having correctly called heads, Bates was immediately giving a warning for over celebrating. York took the ball and had passing on their mind. After a couple of plays Lancaster’s red sea defence parted and Dalton Weir delivered a strike to Max York for the OT Touchdown. The two point attempt was probably the biggest calamity of a play imaginable with approximately 75% of the Offence doing the wrong thing.
It fell to Defence to hold them out and take the win. LB Rafe Hunter Hallett continued to add to his tackle tally and LB Dan Denby dialled up some more timely blitzes to drag the Bombers to 4th and long. Lancaster called a timeout and defence drew their breath, they promised themselves and the team just one more play. Rookie DE Shaz Altaf bull rushed the Offensive Lineman and forced the quarterback to throw a skyward duck that trickled harmless to the ground as York took the victory. The sideline was overjoyed to take the win and condemn Lancaster to a losing season but it was marred by the knowledge that the Centurions did not play up the standard they are capable of and ultimately the game was too close comfort. With time to iron out the mistakes and the missing players to get healthy the Centurions cannot wait the do battle with Lancaster on home turf at Roses 2017.