On Saturday the John Charles Stadium in Leeds played host to the British University American Football Finals. The Plate game between the Swansea Titans and Royal Holloway Bears, was followed by the Championship game between two unbeaten teams, Stirling Clansmen and Birmingham Lions.
Swansea were favourites in the Plate final and before RHUL knew it they were down and chasing the game. Three first half touchdowns for the Titans were all converted with 2-point efforts to give Swansea a 24-0 half time lead, and a seemingly unbeatable advantage.
In the second half Titans running back went in for two more scores, his third and fourth of the day. His TD’s were separated by a Bears score, which they failed to convert.
With time running down and Swansea side line celebrating, the Bears did manage another consolation score but it was all in vain and the Titans with a 39-12 win were taking the Plate back home to Wales.
The Championship game was a tense affair throughout that went down to the wire. Stirling were favoured but for Birmingham being in the final was just the norm for their schedule as this was their sixth straight title game.
The Lions had the chance to draw first blood, but missed a field goal in the first quarter. Then midway through the second period Stirling had the ball in the end zone only for a penalty flag to be thrown to rule out the score. Half time and we were no closer to finding out who would be crowned champions as the game was tied up with no score on the board.
Stirling opened the second half with real intent and marched all the way down the field for the opening score of the game, Grant Isdale tiptoeing his way inbounds for a great TD catch. With the conversion missed it was the Lions turn to move down the field and they levelled it up with a neat catch and run by Morgan, and when Glover ran in the 2-point try it was Birmingham with the lead, 8-6.
Stirling QB Lewis “Dutch” Stephenson had billed himself as the best passer in the UK and so had to live up to his own hype. He managed this by orchestrating another touchdown drive which he emphatically finished by diving in to the end zone on a keep play. Extra point tacked on and the Clansmen had their lead back.
The lead was extended when US import, and eventual game MVP, Austen Jacks picked off a Glover pass and sprinted in from close range. 20-6 now and the Lions had to answer quickly.
Glover was not to be outdone by his opposite number and he moved his Lions down the field and when he found Rowden for a touchdown the lead was cut to just 5 deep in the fourth quarter.
Birmingham were now in the ascendency and their defence gave them one more chance to win it all. With time winding down inside two minutes they just couldn’t find a way past the Stirling D and when a final 4th down pass fell incomplete that was it.
Stirling had won a thrilling ball game 20-15, and over the course of the season you could say that they deserved the win and title of National Champions, but it takes two teams to make a game truly great, and the Birmingham Lions can hold their heads high.
If you missed the game on Saturday, or want to relive it all again, Gridiron TV will be showing it all in its entirety later tonight at 6.30pm. Go to their website www.gridirontv.co.uk for further details.