Stirling Clansmen 10-7 Durham Saints
As the two best university teams in the country faced off, fans were expecting a thriller. Durham were unbeaten in their last ten games, and it was the Clansmen’s fourth consecutive final. The game did not disappoint.
A low scoring first half saw the Clansmen lead 3-0. Kicker Kerr Thomson converted a 31 yard field goal to put up the only points, scored on the Clansmen’s first drive.
That’s not to say it was a quiet half though, as it was all about the run game. Powerback Thomas Campbell looked unstoppable as he consistently picked up first downs, and quarterback Donat Garcia also gained his fair share of yards.
The Clansmen had another chance at points early in the second quarter, but a field goal narrowly missed, slipping to the left of the goalposts.
The Durham quarterback also gained a lot of yards by scrambling out of the pocket and gaining rushing yards. This seemed to be the only way Durham could move the ball, and late into the second quarter he managed to get the his side into field goal range.
Bence Kovacs blocked the kick though, which was returned to midfield where Clansmen chewed out the rest of the first half clock.
The only other talking points of the half came from the Clansmen defence. Emmanuel Bawa, running back as well as safety, got an interception, and Josh Penny broke up a certain touchdown in the endzone.
The second half continued with the same intensity, and the same game plan from each team: ground and pound the football. A methodical drive from Durham saw them eventually set up with a first and goal on the Stirling six yard line.
After some solid stops and a flag, Durham was set up on the fourth and goal from the 11 yard line. They opted not to kick the field goal, but Clansmen quarterback Will Underwood ensured the pass went incomplete.
After the long drive from Durham, Clansmen took the game into the final quarter.
Stirling punted the ball, and Durham set their offense to start on the Clansmen 42 yard line, which saw the side eventually score their first points.
For their only passing gain of over ten yards, the Durham quarterback managed to find his wide receiver who came down with the ball through a double team after running a post route.
This play set them up with a first and goal from the four yard line. On their first play, a quarterback draw, Durham claimed their first touchdown of the game. A converted PAT saw Durham lead 7-3.
The Clansmen had ten minutes to claw their way back into the game. Quarterback Donat Garcia and running back Thomas Campbell lead the team, penetrating Durham’s defence to pick up several first downs.
They managed to convert on three fourth down opportunities in a single drive. Felix Klein was perhaps most impressive, catching the ball on a drag and making the first down by mere inches.
The eventual score was a quarterback draw from Donat Garcia, who hit the outside and barrelled into the endzone for the Clansmen touchdown. Thomson was good on the PAT, which gave Stirling a 10-7 lead, with only 3.15 left on the clock.
The Durham offense retaliated with tremendous field position. A great kick return set up Durham on the Clansmen 39 yeard line, and it was all or nothing.
The Clansmen defence were pinned to their own 22 yard line with two minutes left, at second down, and each team had two timeouts left.
After some quick gains on the ground, Durham took first and goal from the Clansmen six yard line with 1.11 on the clock. A holding call eventually set up third and goal from 16 yards out. After a fade to the endzone was well broken up by cornerback Penny, Durham was on fourth and goal from the 16 yard line.
The field goal unit, and the Clansmen’s field goal block unit, stepped on the field. A converted field goal meant that the game would be going to overtime. A miss would result in the Clansmen winning the title.
With only four seconds left on the clock, Durham called their final timeout and opted to kick a field goal. However, some immense pressure from the Clansmen forced a fumble on the snap and the kickholder was blown up in the backfield. Clansmen had won the British National Final.
The MVP conversation is tough. Penny was immense on defence, preventing the receiver he was covering from any catches and breaking up two potential touchdowns in the endzone.
One of the most clutch plays of the final came from a combination of Donat Garcia and wide receiver Prince.
The quarterback precisely threw the ball on a plate for Prince, who had burned the cornerback defending him. This helped the Clansmen chew a lot of clock, as they were set up in good field position.
Clansmen’s ‘muscle in the middle’ Masayila marked his final performance with a heavy hit to Durham’s running back for a loss of four yards. A massive Kovacs sack in the third quarter halted a Durham drive.
Campbell was also elite, breaking through several tackles and posing a constant threat to the Durham defence.
The MVP went elsewhere though, to Clansmen quarterback Andres Donat Garcia. He commanded the winning offense on the ground and made some critical passes in the air, and even scored the winning touchdown.
The Clasmen’s superb performance brought the team their third National Championship. It was Coach Victor Peredo’s first championship as Head Coach, and he has vowed to continue the success.