Prior to what was prescribed as and turned out to be one of Friday’s highlights, York Centurions President Jack Coppack painted a picture of a season that had not gone exactly as planned, however the team and himself felt confident of a good showing against the Lancaster Bombers as “on the day it’s [our record] always 0-0.”
The stage was therefore set for a strong showing from the Centurions with perfect conditions and a large, buoyant crowd ready to put themselves behind a team and a sport that very much suited the theatrics of Roses.
York were delivered an early blow when in their first offensive play, star running-back Dami Oloko was withdrawn from the game with a leg contusion after being brought down following a piercing run down the right-hand side.
York’s running game fell flat from this point onwards, and Lancaster grew into theirs, piling the pressure on and making their way into York territory as the first quarter ended 0-0.
Both teams were lacking a passing game in the first quarter, maybe a sensible decision to combat early jitters given the unusual, elevated status of the contest. However, this did mean that an expectant crowd had to wait until the second quarter for a completed pass, which unfortunately was thrown and caught by a Bombers received and taking across the line into the end-zone to put Lancaster 6-0 up following a failed two-point conversion attempt.
“We will not beat ourselves again!” came the call from Coppack at the sidelines and he could not have asked for a better reaction as the industrious Stephen Bates intercepted a wayward Lancaster pass to roars of approval from his team and supporters.
Immediately following the interception, quarterback Will Muirhead, who had a great game, went long downfield to connect with Kevwe Uwotu who took the ball in for the touchdown. The usually quiet furthest field on 22 acres erupted as York drew level with Lancaster, and after a failed two-point conversion went into halftime level at 6-6.
Unfortunately, the Centurions seemed to fizzle out in the second half, with Will Muirhead being sacked more time than a lifetime of presents from Father Christmas. A disastrous highlight was after being sacked for a second time in a row to bring around fourth down, the punt was fumbled resulting in a safety and giving Lancaster an 8-6 lead.
This ruinous set of downs proved to be York’s undoing as the defence became more and more porous and Lancaster started to run in touchdown after touchdown with York losing a grip on a game that was once within their grasp.
Stephen Bates did his best to stop the rot, chasing down the Bomber’s running back and catching him 3 yards from the end zone as the 3rd quarter came to an end.
Credit must be due to the Lancaster defence as they did their best to remind their York counterparts of their namesakes connotations with the continued sacking of Muirhead, but this did not stop York displaying some of their succinct offensive plays. An in-route on the left hand side was pulled off seemlessly right in front of the majority of the White Rose contingent resulting in at least a 20-yard gain. However, it was all a little too late and Lancaster emerged victorious to claim all four points on offer with a final scoreline of 26-6.
I caught up with a somewhat dejected Jack Coppack after the game and he had this to say: “Thanks to the home support for keeping us going throughout the game, glad we could give them that spectacular touchdown by Kevwe Uwotu. Our quarterback had a good game, and we started well but then tailed off. It’s a shame that we couldn’t keep the momentum going.”