Yorkshire Rams 20 Lancashire Wolverines 29
Two long Keimar Stuart touchdowns and one from Tyler Broad were not enough to prevent James Schofield’s hat-trick winning the game for the visitors from across the Pennines.
For the second week running, a minute’s silence preceded the game at John Charles Stadium after Rams linebacker Lysander Code, right, lost his mother to cancer during the week. The team also wore black armbands in her honour.
All seemed to be going to plan when a strong defensive effort, with Steven Godward and Broad to the fore, snuffed out Lancashire’s opening drive and from the Rams’ first play on offense, Stuart found some excellent blocking and sprinted 67 yards for a touchdown, below.
The extra point failed despite kicker Jeff Quartey‘s attempts to rescue a high snap but Matt Doherty‘s interception immediately put the Rams back in good field position. The visiting defence held firm, though, to prevent any addition to the early scoring.
A goal-line stand, inspired by the returning Charlie Gough, prevented a Wolverines touchdown but a safety followed when a Lancashire linebacker tackled running back Amit Singh in his own end zone, making it 6-2.
It was the start of a turnaround as the visitors scored 21 unanswered points in the second quarter, with quarterback David Mead running for one touchdown and throwing another to Schofield either side of a costly interception by opposite number Ben Green.
Green picked up good yardage with completions to Taylor Umland and Faheem Hasan, with a pair of excellent catches, but the drive stalled.
Broad‘s interception, completed despite a hefty collision which left team-mate Jacob Barner winded, snuffed out one Wolverines drive but left the Rams at their own one-yard line and after James Hudson’s punt unfortunately struck Broad, the visitors were left with a short field.
Mead hit his favoured target for a second touchdown, awarded despite Schofield making the catch while airborne and landing on his back on the out-of-bounds line at the back of the end zone. Mead ran in the two-point conversion and long completions to Umland and Hasan were to no avail as the half ran out on the Rams.
Schofield’s third score extended Lancashire’s lead but Broad returned the subsequent kick-off for a touchdown, right, to launch a determined third-quarter fightback. Stuart ran in the two-point conversion.
Hudson picked up a sack after good initial pressure by Godward and Stuart was denied a touchdown by a penalty for a block in the back. He would get his score on a 63-yard run shortly afterwards, after Broad’s audacious punt return.
Umland’s two-point attempt was stopped to leave the Rams in a two-score game and despite a Chris Lawton pick and some determined tackling by Code and others, there was no way back.
Regardless of the defeat, the Rams’ team spirit remained on show in an emotional post-match huddle centred on Code, whose courage and performance in the circumstances would certainly have made his mother proud.
The Rams now move on to Sunday’s away game with the Northumberland Vikings, which will be live-streamed from 1pm on the Vikings TV Facebook page.
Rams MVP Awards
Offensive: Keimar Stuart
Defensive: Jacob Barnor
Coaches: Charlie Gough
Ram of the Day: Tyler Broad
Photos by John Dermott