Game 5: Napier Knights @ Centurions

Edinburgh Napier Knights brought an impressively sized squad, and an impressive 5-0 record, to York on a mild Wednesday afternoon. In truth York were still slightly battered and bruised after grinding out a win against Edinburgh Predators only three days earlier, starting QB Tom Lathem couldn’t make it through the warmup. The coaches ensured that this hadn’t fazed the squad. York took the ball but couldn’t do much with it, other than throw an ugly interception on the first play that got returned dangerously close to the redzone by Napier. They sent on their offence and the size differential was painfully obvious, they ran their full back downhill with the ball as they crashed out a few three and four yard gains. DT Bart Hayden dragged the ball carrier down for a loss and then LB Dan Denby stuffed him just past the line once more. A Fake run Quarterback rollout pass nearly outfoxed the Centurions but FS Stephen Bates was able to recognise it and bring down the Tight End, who must have been about 6ft 8in, before he could do any real damage. Disappointingly they converted their fourth down and moved in position to score. The Fullback was walled first by Bates and then by LB Rafe Hunter Hallet but on the third down they broke through, Rookie SS Jacob Beaman unable to bring the guy down in time. The point after attempt was a dreadful kick and Napier assumed a 6-0 lead.

After the fireworks of the first drive there was not a lot else to write about in this game. Both teams attempted to run fake punts, both teams failed to successfully run fake punts. The Centurions turned the ball over a couple of times, Napier’s security was significantly better but was not much of a factor as they offered very little offensively for the rest of the game. Rookie RB Jacob Bilsborrow continued his linear running style and found some joy every so often. C Alan Gray and RG Ben Grainger fought hard in the trenches and dealt with the rotation on Napier’s D-line admirably. Needing something, the Centurions went for it in a risky fourth down situation but were unable to convert. Napier took the ball field goal range and bulldozed up the middle for a further 4 yards in three downs, DT Tom Hodgson and DE Ben Matthew throwing their weight around to close up running lanes. The Napier kicker remembered what he was supposed to be doing and split the uprights for a field goal to make it 9-0.

QB Theo Hewit couldn’t spark the team late on and tossed another Interception to close out the game, Napier found a crease and even lateraled it a couple of times but mercifully the returner was brought down before the scoreboard was affected.

Napier Knights proved why they were undefeated with some stellar defensive play in the game. By their own admission, their Offence was rattled after the first drive as they could not get much going and were held to only 23 yards on the day. Alas York could not capitalise but kept pace with a now-promoted side, the Centurions’ attention turned to dismantling the Lancaster Bombers at the end of the week and completing 3 fixtures in an 8 day stretch.

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