Yorkshire Rams 6-6 Birmingham Bulls
To misquote Dinah Washington, what a difference a week makes. Eight days after the heavy home defeat at the hands of East Kilbride Pirates, the Bulls once again played host to another old rival, the Yorkshire Rams.
Both sides of the ball had points to prove as the offense were kept to under 50 yards, whilst the defense allowed the Pirates to rack up almost 500 offensive yards in the 2012 season opener.
Following an offside call on the opening kick-off, WR Teejay Denzel took the ball all the way to the house on the retaken kick, only for a penalty to erase the score. It seemed the offensive troubles from the Pirates game were resurfacing, as the Bulls failed to gain any ground through the first three downs, and after failing to convert on 4th down, were quickly back on the side line.
The defense came out fighting, though. Just two plays in to the Rams opening possession, LB Brendan Cunnane fell on a Rams fumble, bringing the offense back on to the field.
Last week saw the offense complete only 4 of 20 passes. On the Bulls second offensive drive, the very first play saw QB Luke Vojnar hit WR Teejay Denzel for a 32 yard score through the air. Alex Shennan’s PAT was low, however, and was easily blocked by the Rams.
The vast contrast between the Pirates and Rams games was once again evident on the ensuing kick-off. Whereas last week, the Bulls tackling was questionable to say the least, LB Alex Shennan laid out the Rams returner with a huge side line hit that set the tone for a what would turn out to be a tough defensive battle throughout the afternoon.
After the Rams gained big yardage on a couple of runs, both teams exchanged 3 and outs before Rams DB Chris Rushton intercepted a wayward Vojnar pass to bring the Rams offense back on to start the 2nd quarter.
Unable to take advantage of the turnover, the Rams punted into the Bulls endzone, bringing the offense back on at the 20. It looked like another 3 and out for the now stuttering offense, but on third down, the Vojnar-TJ connection struck again for a big gain. Looking for TJ again on the following play, Vojnar’s deep ball was batted down in to the hands of Rams DB William Obubo for their second pick of the day.
Two plays later and the Rams were down at the Bulls’ 6 yard line. After punching the ball in along the ground, a flag on the play for holding brought the ball back. Undeterred, the Rams aired it out to the corner of the end zone to level the score at 6-6.
DB Jack O’Mahony blocked the PAT, which was recovered by G Jordan Butel. A rush of blood to the head saw Jordan suddenly believe he was Troy Polamalu in SuperBowl 43, cutting across field and trying to take it back to the house behind some great blocks.
From the beginning of the second half, both defenses continued to wreak havoc on the opposing offenses. On the Rams opening drive of the half, the Rams were immediately forced in to punting the ball away after Jack O’Mahony dropped an easy INT.
After converting on 4th down courtesy of a QB sneak, Vojnar then threw his third pick of the day, as Rams DB William Obubo returned the ball to the Bulls 38 yard line – his 2nd pick of the day. Immediately though, the Bulls snagged their 2nd pick as rookie corner Tyrone Johnston jumped in front of the Rams receiver.
Both teams exchanged 3 and outs as the 3rd quarter came to a close, a scenario that continued deep into the 4th. Entering the 2 minute warning, the Bulls offense took to the field at their own 45, but immediately turned the ball over via a Vojnar pick, this time picked off by Rams DB Gary Mulvey.
Rather than go for it on 4th down, which if unsuccessful would have seen the Bulls start around the Rams 35 yard line, they decide to punt the ball away with just 31 seconds remaining on the clock.
With just 8 seconds remaining, Vojnar looked like he had just thrown his 5th pick of the day, but the Rams DB (the number evaded me…) saw pay dirt ahead of him, and rather than securing the ball properly, he promptly dropped what would have been a pick six to win the game for the Rams.
With just two seconds remaining, and the Bulls backed up inside their own 15, Vojnar fell on a fumble just short of the end zone, and the game was finished at 6-6.
This tie marks the first game in 13 meetings between the two sides that hasn’t ended in a Bulls victory. The Bulls offense will probably be a little disappointed that they could not continue their early good form throughout the game. However, the defense can take great heart in a much improved performance in the second game of the season.
Next up is another home tie, against 2011 Division 1 Central rivals Leicester Falcons on Sunday 13th May. Family tickets are available through Kerrang! Radio (T&C apply), and a full game preview will be up by mid-week.
UNITED WE STAND!
Picture courtesy of Hannah-Caitlin Dale (@HannahCaitlin)
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