Rams Grind It Out To Win Opener
The Yorkshire Rams kicked off their season in winning style with a nervy 11-8 win over local rivals the Sheffield Predators. Under a break in the adverse weather, the Rams received the opening kickoff. Things started slowly for the Back & Gold and they were forced to punt early on. However, swarming Rams defence got the ball back straight away after a quick 3 and out. Although Yorkshire were unable to make the breakthough, the hosts started to move the ball well. After a missed field goal and another long drive that was stopped in the red zone, it was clear that the Rams were edging the battle for field position.
With time running out in the 2nd quarter, Yorkshire took control of the ball on their own 30 with just over 2 minutes to go. Through a mixture of penalties, and gains in the air from quarterback Jacob Hardy to receivers James Sharrock and Alex Harrison, the Rams found themselves knocking on the door once again with seconds to go. Finally the Middleton outfit was able to pierce a chink in the Predators armour as running back Alex Hughes powered his way into the end-zone on a bruising 5 yard run. Jonny Dudley was able to put the PAT over via the post to send the Rams into the break 7-0 up.
Into the second half the battle for field position continued with the strong Rams defence able to pin their opposition deep in their own territory. With the Predators lining up to punt, an errant snap led to a safety and extended the Rams lead to 9-0. This soon became 11-0 after history repeated itself one drive later, with another long snap going awry. Next it was the home team’s turn to get edgy, as staggeringly a 3rd punt snap was misfired in the end-zone, to set up 11-2 with plenty of time on the clock.
With the start of the 4th quarter, Sheffield began to find some life of their own on offence. They were able to pick chunks off and move down the field to find themselves in the Rams redzone for the first time on the day. Things started to look bleak however as an errant 4th down pass was picked off by Safety Chris Lawton, his second of the day and one of 4 interceptions for the Yorkshire defence. Momentum swung back the other way shortly after with a botched snap gifting the ball back to Sheffield inside the Rams half. This time the Predators would not be denied as the rumbled their way into the end zone to send the away sideline into raptures. The 2PAT was stopped well short however as the Yorkshire defence stood strong once again to wrap up the ball carrier.
With time running out, it was time for the home offence to step up after a stuttering second half, and they did just that. Incisive running from rookie running back Elliot Jackson and quarterback Henry Wareham was able to bleed the clock. as well as putting the Rams back in scoring position. With a 1st down all the way on the Predators 5 yard line, the Rams were able to kneel out the final minute to preserve the all important win.
Also on the day, the Pennine Panthers (Rams) Juniors were also able to get the better of the Sheffield Predators. A convincing 36-0 victory marked the Panthers’ first ever competitive game at the under 19 level, and came off the back of the under 16s impressive form in a recent Youth tournament. The Rams seniors will next be in action a week on Saturday when they travel to play the Lancashire Wolverines on the 24th of May. Kick off 2:30pm.