Tuesday, 29 January 2013

UCLan Edge Out The Stallions In Close Battle

UCLan managed to hold off a late Stallions charge to overcome their Staffordshire opponents 10-8 in horrendous wind.

The snow may have cleared but the weather still heavily effected the game with gusts of wind having a say from the off. Dale Spence muffed the opening kick off but he recovered, broke three tackles and returned the ball to midfield.

But, with the pass game limited because of the wind, running the ball was countered with strong blitzing and the teams exchanged possession numerous times.

The Rams finally looked to be gaining headway with strong rushing by Joe Nicholson and quarterback Jamie Coulston. As they pushed into the Stallions’ redzone they were halted and on 4th and 1 and against the wind the home side decided to go for it, but Stallions’ safety Conor Scutts brought Nicholson down in the backfield on a great blitz to turn the ball over on downs.

A couple of Stallions’ plays later and the ball was back in UCLan’s hands after one of Double Coverage’s Ones to Watch, Sam Bloomfield, intercepted Matt Smith. Bloomfield easily took the pick to the house but a block in the back call brought it back.

Some strong Nicholson running and a Coulston completion to Ryan Crompton moved the chains after an early false start penalty.

However the Rams couldn’t capitalise as a false start, then a recovered fumble in the backfield and an incomplete resulted in third and very long. Coulston attempted to convert deep but was picked off by Gary Richardson.

The Stallions began to move the ball with a strong running game but Bloomfield stripped the ball and recovered. The home team immediately capitalised, with Stuart Robinson carrying the ball through the middle of the field for a 40-yard touchdown. With the PAT good the Rams led 7-0.

Both teams continued to struggle on offence, with Ste Lythgoe sacking Smith on the next drive before half time.

The wind continued to wreak havoc in the second half with a fumble on the opening drive allowing the Rams’ Brendan Walkin to recover and take it to the Stallions’ 4-yard line before being tackled.

UCLan couldn’t fully capitalise though, with strong defence from the Stallions forcing the Rams to go for the field goal. With a 10-0 lead the Rams were looking good, but Staffordshire were not about to roll over.

Strong running by the away team’s Travis Bilham got the Stallions rolling but another fumble, recovered by the Rams’ Kris Parker saw them stutter again. However Coulston threw the ball back to Staffordshire, Adam Campbell grabbing the pick.

The Stallions would immediately capitalise, with Smith hitting Lewis Bayley over the middle and the receiver ran well for the score. The sweep to the left saw the away team convert the two-point attempt and leave the score at 10-8.

The fourth quarter was a defensive battle as each team cancelled each other out. But as time ticked down the Stallions began to gain momentum. With three minutes left on the clock the Rams gave away a pass interference. The Stallions ran well, inching into the Rams’ half. With 1:06 left on the clock though the Rams stepped up their defence.

On 4th and 7 the Stallions had to go for it, but a muffed hand off saw the Rams get to the running back in the backfield and force the turnover on downs to win the game.

By Nathan Sharrocks

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