On 18 June, the Bulls’ Youth team travelled north to their 3rd tournament of the 2016 campaign, host by Tamworth Phoenix.
Game one saw the hosts take on the Birmingham Lions, and a competitively fought game ended in victory for the Lions, defeating Tamworth 21-12.
It was then our turn to face off against our cross city rivals. The Bulls won the toss and started on offence, marching steadily downfield they took an early lead following a 6 yard run by Josh Ekwulugo. The extra point attempt fell incomplete so the lead was 6-0.
On the Lions first drive they moved the ball 10 yards on a couple of runs, before QB Harry Field launched a deep pass towards Luke Simpson. Bulls DB Mike Wathen almost came up with the interception, but Simpson showed great concentration to make an excellent catch off his laces, and literally strolled the last 2 yards into the endzone as the defence thought the ball was dead.
The Lions attempted the extra point and would have made it but for a huge, last ditch tackle by Safety Jim Brown. The game was now tied 6-6. But not for long, on the very next play the ball was handed off to Josh Ekwulugo and he took it 45 yards to give the Bulls the lead again. A short pass from Matt Cotter to Ben Wildman gave the Bulls the extra point and a 13-6 lead.
Image courtesy of Andy M Neale, aka Whizzyfingers.
Momentum was definitely with the Bulls and on the next play Mike Wathen came up with an interception near midfield and returned it all the way for a pick 6. Or so we thought, however the score was negated due to a holding penalty on the return, but the Bulls offence took over at the Lions 7, and 2 plays later Cotter and Wildman hooked up again for the TD. The extra point attempt was no good but the Bulls lead was now 19-6.
Back come the Lions though, and a good drive was completed in style when Luke Simpson took the jet sweep and scored on a 7 yard run. The extra point attempt was no good and the score was now 19-12 in favour of the Bulls.
Time for one final possession for the Bulls O, and the half ended as it began with Josh Ekwulugo scampering 36 yards for another 6 points, his third of the day. The half ended with the Bulls looking comfortable at 25-12.
The second half started much quieter, dominated by long drives but no scoring. 7 plays for the Lions, before the Bulls 8 play drive ended on the Lions 2. The Lions took over and methodically ground out yardage before Harry Field connected by Jacob Mann with a 7 yard pass and the TD. The extra point was good when Nathan Lester hit Mann who made a great catch low down, and the Bulls lead was cut to just 6 points, 25-19.
Time for ball control from the Bulls offence, and they duly marched downfield, chewing up the clock as they went. However Josh Ekwulugo was ruled to have fumbled on the Lions 1 yard line and it was recovered by the Lions Defence for the touchback.
Bulls’ hearts were now in their mouths as the Lions moved just over halfway with time running out. They were now close enough to throw it into the endzone, but both attempts fell incomplete and the Bulls escaped with the win 25-19.
The final game of the day saw us take on the hosts, Tamworth Phoenix. After winning the toss the offence took the field, and although they moved the ball well could not find the endzone and turned the ball over on downs. But they would soon be back as Phoenix fumbled on their first play and Mike Wathen came up with the ball. The very next play Matt Cotter hit Ben Wildman for the TD, before repeating the trick for the extra point and a 7-0 Bulls lead.
It was a short-lived lead though, as Phoenix moved deep into Bulls territory and Tom Hart ran it in from 6 yards out with a couple of nifty cuts leaving defenders grasping air. They attempted a 2 point conversion but it failed, so the Bulls still lead, but only just. 7-6.
Image courtesy of Andy M Neale, aka Whizzyfingers.
On their next possession the Bulls turned the ball over following a freak interception of a Matt Cotter pass that bounced kindly off a defenders helmet, and Phoenix took full advantage when Tom Hart repeated his earlier effort with another 6 yard TD run. The 2 point attempt failed but the Bulls were now trailing for the first time today, 12-7.
The Bulls offence came back on and following a couple of runs Matt Cotter hit Ben Wildman in stride for a 25 yard touchdown, the extra point was no good but the Bulls were back in the lead, 13-12.
Both teams exchanged possessions at the start of the second half before another Mike Wathen interception at midfield. It looked certain it would be a pick 6 but for an incredible display of effort by Phoenix Wide Receiver Joe Coleman, who ran practically the length of the field to make the tackle at the 1 yard line.
It didn’t take long for the Bulls offence to score though, and with Raval Bath now under centre he drilled a pass to Adam Wyche for the 6 points, before connecting with Ben Wildman for the extra point. Bulls lead 20-12.
Inside the final 2 minutes and Phoenix have possession, and the chance to tie the game, however the Bulls D came up win yet another big play, this time rookie LB Dan O’Brien grabs his first ever interception and almost goes the distance. However, the job was done, QB Bath takes a knee and the Bulls earn another close fought victory.