Lincolnshire Bombers U16s recover from early nerves
Lincolnshire Bombers Academy started an action packed weekend of American Football, hosting the first of four under-16 tournaments.
Their opposition were local rivals Scunthorpe Alphas along with Gateshead Senators and league leaders Yorkshire Assassins at Memorial Hall, North Hykeham.
The Bombers showed their nerves in the opening game against Alphas as their offence made several mistakes on their first drives.
The Bombers defence, led by captain and GB free safety Rory Humphries, repeatedly stopped the Alphas offence though. Humphries ran back a defensive touchdown and made two interceptions, ably assisted by an interception from corner back Joe Rowles and a sack by nose guard Charlie Cook.
Gradually the Bombers offence improved to take control of the game and win 36-6 with offensive touchdowns from running backs Zach Taylor, Kaehle Toledo and Dave Willumsen, and wide receiver Chris Atkinson.
The Bombers were clearly getting better but still looked ring rusty.
Unfortunately the Senators had to pull out of the tournament due to illness in their squad and the Bombers were left to watch the Assassins cruise to a 41-0 win against the Alphas. The Assassins boasted a number of GB players and it was clear why they were league leaders following three out of three wins in their first tournament in April.
The match against the Assassins followed a similar route to the Bombers' first game with offence struggling to gain any momentum and the defence keeping them in the game.
The Bombers offence threw everything at the Assassins and kept in the game with two touchdowns, one from Toledo and one from wide receiver Kyle Stephenson.
However, with one minute left on the clock it was 19-12 to the Assassins and it appeared they would keep their unbeaten record intact.
But the Bombers are gutsy and after changing formation they started to gain some momentum, led by powerful running from Willumsen and blocking from Cook.
The Bombers had driven down to the four yard line when quarterback Nick Bad dropped back to fire a short pass to running back Toledo. With a successful pass for a one point conversion with seconds left, the Bombers were level.
The Assassins only had time for two plays to score and with the last play of the game they successfully passed to midfield, only for the Bombers defence to quickly smother the receiver.
The sideline were starting to celebrate a last gasp draw when from the melée up popped Bombers cornerback Chris Atkinson with the ball to run back for the game-winning touchdown, for a 25-19 final score.
Academy head coach Alan Chambers said: "Wow, what a finish. The Assassins are a top team, consistently winning their division.
"I am so impressed by the resilience and determination displayed by the players. I am also excited by the what we can achieve this season, we were able to score in a number of different ways with a mixture of players.
"However, we are playing in a new division this year and there are more top teams to play this year. The players need to realise they are going to have to keep improving and keep their focus if they are to realise their potential.”
The Bombers U16 team are now joint top of the North A Division and have another three away tournaments to play to reach the play-offs.
With only the division winners being guaranteed play-off football, the Bombers probably need a perfect season to make the play-offs.
The tournaments get tougher as the U16s are next in action at the Manchester Titans tomorrow (Saturday) where their season could be decided as they take on the remaining unbeaten teams, their hosts and Chorley Buccaneers. The remaining U16 tournaments are in June away at Wigan Bandits and Sheffield Giants.
The action did not end there, with the Bomber' senior team playing the next day and beating South Lincolnshire Lightning comfortably 53-0 to remain unbeaten. They now lead the NFC2 South Division on points scored to keep all Bombers teams unbeaten this season.
Meanwhile, South Lincolnshire Lightning will be hoping to get their season back on track when they host Humber Warhawks at Bourne Rugby Club next Sunday (May 29) at 2pm.