Yorkshire Rams 24 Newcastle Vikings 19
Elliott Jackson, left, scampered for two touchdowns, with Keimar Stuart and Chris Peel adding one apiece, in a tense 24-19 win at John Charles Stadium.
On the other side of the ball, the defence had to come up with some big plays and Tyler Broad racked up three interceptions, with James Lewsley producing a key knockdown on a late Vikings fourth-down attempt.
After turnovers ended the Rams’ first two drives, the third produced points as Jackson took a hand-off heading left before cutting back the other way and racing clear for a 58-yard score. A wayward snap meant the extra point failed.
Newcastle responded through Jacob Shotton’s catch and they added the kick for a 7-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The extra point this time was blocked and Newcastle’s Connor Joyce set off looking for a defensive two-point conversion, with several home players in pursuit and right tackle Phil Gatenby eventually chasing him down to make the tackle.
Diira Ejibe’s touchdown made it 13-12 at half-time, the Rams this time blocking the extra point but Lewsley out of luck as he attempted to scoop the ball up for a return.
Again the score went unconverted and a scrappy passage of play followed before Broad picked off Vikings quarterback Nick Whitehead once more and returned the ball all the way to the 18-yard line.
This time Jackson was the man to capitalise with a short-range run between the tackles, but after James Hudson pulled the conversion attempt wide to leave the score at 24-13, Ejibe’s second score set up a tense final quarter.
Broad looking to make things more comfortable via what turned out to be a chaotic punt return. He was tackled around the Newcastle 10-yard line, fumbled, recovered the loose ball and was hauled down by the ankle, only for the play to be brought back in any case for a block in the back.
Penalty flags against the Rams had become a mounting source of frustration, which came to a head when dissent on the sideline from defensive coach Tom Hammett led to a 15-yard penalty.
A final Broad pick snuffed out one late Vikings attack and, after the Rams went three and out, the second-year player dropped one desperate long heave from Whitehead only for Lewsley to break up another and allow Rams QB Taylor Umland to kneel the game out.
Rams MVP Awards
Offensive MVP: Elliot Jackson
Defensive MVP: Tyler Broad
Rookie of the Day: Spencer Hind, right
Ram of the Day: Phil Gatenby
Photos from http://www.alexdanielphotos.co.uk