West Coast Trojans are out of the running for the BAFA National League Division 1 playoffs after suffering their third successive defeat to Yorkshire Rams at Irvine’s Meadow Park on Sunday.
The match was tight in the first half, but turned in the opening minute of the second when 18-year-old Tyler Broad returned the kick-off for a touchdown.
A double over winless Gateshead Senators is all the Trojans have to show for their efforts with one game remaining. The Rams, on the other hand, consolidate their position in second place in the Northern Football Conference and with third-placed Manchester Titans already qualified, should clinch their place in the post-season with victory at home to the Senators this Sunday.
The Trojans got off to a good start in the wet conditions, strong defence forcing several repeat drives in the Rams half before a poorly executed punt play by the visitors on their own goal line saw the home side edge in front with a safety.
The Rams began to take control in offence as the game moved into the second quarter however, and it was no surprise in the closing minutes of the half when quarterback Taylor Umland found Andrew Cheeseman in the endzone to notch the game’s opening touchdown. The two-point conversion was unsuccessful, leaving the visitors leading 6-2.
The hosts then went three-and-out on their next possession before the tourists lined up a field goal attempt from close range, but Jonny Dudley’s kick was charged down and the sides turned around at half time with the Rams leading by four.
This was scarcely to matter as a successful two-pointer after Broad’s touchdown extended the visitors’ lead to twelve points.
The Trojans tried to respond, but found the Rams defence in increasingly determined mood and after linebacker James Hudson intercepted home quarterback Gary McNey’s pass in midfield, the visiting offence did the rest of the work culminating in a touchdown catch from Christian Davies with three minutes left in the third quarter.
There was no further scoring after this, although James Ward-Stead thought he had a touchdown of his own early in the fourth only for his catch to be ruled out for pass interference.
The Trojans are due to round off their season at home to unbeaten Edinburgh Wolves this Sunday, with the Rams doing likewise following the visit of the Senators.
Good performance despite defeat – Trojans assistant coach Ross Wilson
Yorkshire Rams head coach Dave Pawson:
“It was a decent all round performance from the team.
“In our last game we lost our starting and backup running backs for the season, as well as one of our linebackers, so Sunday was a case of getting the other guys up to game speed as quickly [as] possible and tweak our offensive plays accordingly. Fortunately, it worked.
“The return [for the touchdown] in the second half was key. Our returner is just 18 and we moved him into the senior team at the start of the season when we realised the junior squad [weren’t] going to be competing this year. He is steadily growing into his role within the team, and finally managed to return one which he has been threatening to do [all] season.
“Looking at the table a win against Gateshead should put us in the playoffs, but we are taking nothing for granted. They have shown over the last couple of games they can score points, so our defence will have to play well.”