INVERCLYDE Goliaths senior kitted American football team travelled to Wishaw to play Clyde Valley Blackhawks for the final game of the regular season.
Blackhawks had, the previous week, sealed their fate as the undefeated division champions, however Goliaths still had the chance of taking second place if they won the game, to secure play-off football in their inaugural season in the national leagues.
Goliaths entered the match as underdogs having lost the previous encounter with Blackhawks 20-6. In the first quarter, Blackhawks won the coin toss, electing to receive the ball for the opening play. After a fair return from the opening kick-off, Blackhawks set about their work in an efficient manner, moving the ball with relative ease through their power running game. They made short work of their first possession punching in the first touchdown (TD) from short yardage, the extra point being blocked resulting in a score line of 6-0 in favour of Blackhawks.
Goliaths were unable to make use of their proven run-based offence, being stifled and shut out over the remainder of the quarter. In the second quarter, the Goliaths defence were performing well. Early star performances from Martin Munsie and Steven Mercer ensured that Blackhawks were unable to pass the ball, seeing them gain very few yards through the air.
On the offensive side of the ball, Goliaths showed glimpses of great play but a stout Blackhawks defence and fundamental errors held them from any scores. A late interception of the Goliaths quarterback saw a very short yardage field given to Blackhawks, however their tempers flared and they were penalised with a 15-yard penalty. The penalty did not hold them back from the end zone, and they fired a pass down the middle to their wide receiver who ran the rest of the short distance for a score. The field goal attempt went wide.
A passionate team talk at half-time from head coach McClintock clearly struck a chord with the team who, in the third quarter, were gang-tackling at will on defence, flowing well to shut down the power running of Blackhawks. The Goliaths offence did not take long to find their proven run game, delivering a multitude of long yardage plays. The Goliaths were knocking on the door of the Blackhawks endzone after an athletic hurdle by running back Scott Little saw a massive 25-yard gain down field, supported by clutch catches from John Murphy and Kevin McAdam.
Powering through the middle of the defence Bud McFerren scored Goliaths’ first points of the game, leaving Blackhawks with a small 12-6 lead. Clock management was the order of the fourth quarter for the Goliaths with momentum on their side. The defence was shutting down anything Blackhawks had to offer with their early buoyant mood migrating to frustration which posed them problems.
Goliaths were pulling the strings on offence, moving the ball from their own 20-yard line the length of the field. Running back Davie Orr pulled the Goliaths down field with strong running for a significant first down. As the Goliaths approached the Blackhawks endzone, Scott Little took the ball and rumbled through the Blackhawks defence to bring the score level.
The Goliaths head coach opted to go for two extra points and trusted Scott Little to do the hard work again, taking the ball into the endzone to take the score line to 14-12 in the Goliaths’ favour. The defence snuffed out everything Blackhawks pushed their way, seeing out the remaining minutes in the quarter to clinch victory.
Goliaths have gone from strength to strength in their rookie season, gaining a seeding of #5 in the British American Football Northern Leagues, ensuring they have play-off football to extend their season. Goliaths travel south to Lincolnshire on Sunday 11 August to face #4 seeds Lincolnshire Bombers.
Most valuable players (MVP):
Defensive MVP -– Steven Mercer
Offensive MVP -– Kevin Gray
Inverclyde American Football continue to recruit players for senior (18-plus) and junior/youth (12 to 18 years old). For more information email the committee at firstname.lastname@example.org or find the club on Facebook by searching for Inverclyde American Football.