LANCASTER BOMBERS 18 – 6 YORK CENTURIONS
Images: Peter Iveson
Two scores in the first quarter from Lancaster Wide Receiver Jazon Klaus dashed hopes of a York Centurion’s victory on Roses Friday.
In the biggest match of either universities’ season and with Lancaster keen to avenge a defeat earlier in the year, the game had all the makings worthy of a classic. But the combination of some squalid Yorkshire weather, dropped passes and defensive lapses leading to big plays undoubtedly contributed to York’s downfall.
On a day in which starting Quarterback Tim Blades struggled to ignite the White Rose, his assessment of York suffering from “mental errors, which lead to Lancaster pulling off some lucky plays” was encapsulated in a first quarter to forget.
Right from the opening kick-off, York were on the back foot; Klaus finding blocks down field to rip off a monster eighty yard kick return for the opening score. Dogged defence in the consequent possessions saw York force Lancaster into consecutive three and outs and – after some excellent work from the Special Teams unit– York gained excellent field position with Lancaster driven back to their own two yard line. Yet on the biggest stage of the year, York must have felt as if it was Groundhog Day instead of Roses Friday as Klaus notched his second long distance score.
With Lancaster’s Canadian Quarterback Len Dewhit forced from the pocket trying to avoid being sacked, his hopeful heave down the side line eluded the York secondary, falling into the hands of a grateful Klaus, who sprinted the remaining distance to grab a spectacular ninety six yard score.
There is a saying in Football that “defence wins championships”, but York’s offense wasn’t able to give them the chance, Blades struggling to escape a consistent Lancaster pass rush. York were able to see out the half with the deficit limited to twelve points, most notably with a magnificent stop on their own six yard line after Lancaster rolled the dice to try and convert on fourth and short, but the gap should have been less. In what was perhaps York’s best shot at a first half score, Wide Receiver Zef Rucinski was left to rue a mental lapse; turning the Lancaster Cornerback inside out with his route running, before dropping what should have been a regulation catch and, at least, a considerable gain in yardage.
The opening to the third quarter saw no lift in the weather, or the amount of production on the offense for either side as Lancaster began to fall foul of the officials, notably drawing a fifteen yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct after converting a rare first down. Then, almost out of nowhere, Lancaster landed the knockout punch. After York’s replacement Quarterback Kyle Taylor, marched the Centurions downfield only to fall short on a crucial fourth and one, Klaus completed a stellar performance, this time cutting through the middle of the York line on a handoff to race away for a sixty yard run and touchdown.
York’s reward for persistence did come late in fourth quarter and in the space of two jaw-dropping plays. First, Tight End Gareth Dowse showed brilliant awareness to haul in a one handed catch close to the side line for a big gain, before Tom Marks went thirty yards on bludgeoning run in the consequent play to nab York’s solitary score for the day. It would prove scant consolation to a York side that sensed a missed opportunity as they exited the field.
Despite the defeat, the 2010/2011 will be looked back upon as the season remains the Centurion’s most successful in their short history, finishing the season with a 4-4 record in the British Universities American Football League (BUAFL) and a playoff berth.