A confident Clansmen side again delivered this weekend, with a convincing 41-12 victory over Sheffield Hallam Warriors. This means the Stirling side have beaten every team in the division, and at the midway point of the regular season find themselves at 4-0, meaning they are top and in pole position for the number one seed in the playoffs.
Despite kicking the ball, the Clansmen got off to a perfect start. After a strong start from the defence forcing a three and out, the offence took over on their own 12 yard line. After a nice run from the quarterback Garcia to pick up the first down, he threw a deep pass that was caught by wide receiver Lightbody, for a 57 yard touchdown. The PAT was converted, giving Stirling an early 7-0 lead.
On the next drive, however, after a nicely executed fake punt gained them a lot of yards, Sheffield eventually ran in for a touchdown, giving them their first points of the match. However, a fumble on the PAT led to Stirling holding a narrow one point lead. These turned out to be the only scores of the quarter, meaning it was 7-6 lead for the boys in green.
The Clansmen again scored quickly to start off the second quarter. Again, on only the third play of the drive they converted. This time Garcia threw to Crowe, who found himself open in the middle of the pitch and ran it in for a 36 yard touchdown. Again Atkinson converted on the PAT, and Stirling had a 14-6 lead. The rest of the quarter was quiet, with a missed field goal from the Warriors and a fumble from the Clansmen being the only talking points for the rest of a half which ended 14-6 in favour of the Clansmen.
The third quarter gave the game only one score, a touchdown for the Clansmen. Stirling thought Crowe had scored a punt return, but there was a flag on the play meaning it did not count. However, it did give them great field position, starting them on the Sheffield 20 yard line. After a rushing gain of 19 from running back Campbell, a short one yard scramble from Garcia extended the lead. A missed PAT meant 20-6 for the Clansmen heading into the final quarter.
The excitement arrived in the fourth quarter. For his third interception in as many games, free safety Hopkinson ran a pick back for six points. After intercepting the ball on his own 17 yard line, he ran through the defence, showing good reading of the play and some nice blocking by his teammates. Atkinson then converted the PAT, making it 27-6.
Trailing by 21 points, the Warriors knew they would need to score quickly to keep themselves in this one. They did just that on the following drive. After starting in good field position following a strong kick return, they scored from a 25 yard throw to their tight end who done well to beat his man. This time, a failed two point conversion led to the score now standing at 27-12.
From here, Stirling took over, scoring another two touchdowns with both PATs converted. The first touchdown was scored from a 22 yard pass caught by wide receiver Samuelsson for his second touchdown of the season. This was set up by some nice rushing yards from Crowe and Lubangu. The final touchdown of the game was an eight yard run from Lubangu, his first touchdown for Stirling. Some excellent blocking from the offensive line opened a gap that Lubangu sprinted through, for the last score of the game.
The MVP for this match went to Ashley Hopkinson. Not only did he grab himself a 73 yard pick six, but he also made a lot of hard tackles and broke up a lot of passes, whilst leading the defence from the safety position.
This result means that the Clansmen have won all their home games in 2015 and that they have beaten all the teams in their division this season. However, next week could prove to be their toughest challenge yet, as they travel to Durham Saints, who will be seeking revenge after having victory stripped from them in the dying moments of the previous encounter. The Clansmen are a confident side however, and will be fighting to maintain their 100 percent start to the campaign.