The Saxons have had a better than expected season. In fact it’s totally unbelievable that the team was able to rebuild itself and go undefeated all season. But that is the reality and for the first time in Saxon history the Britbowl beckoned, at the Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield. The opponents for this match up were local boys, the Sheffield Predators. The Predators had of course done exceedingly well to get the final from the Division 2 Central conference. Their performance record only marred by the terrible weather the UK faced this summer with the unprecedented amount of rain fall, which left two Predators games marked down as a draw. That being said both undefeated teams locked horns after a short delay to kick off for the first final of the weekend.

First Quarter

The kick-off is taken by the Saxons and it goes very deep before being caught in the Predators end zone. Lighting fast Running back Bobby Amissah reaches the returner first and tackles him at the 6 yard line. The Predators first play is on the ground and the elusive running back manages to break through the Saxon defence and break off a huge gain. The predators re set themselves on the half way line and in a similar pre snap move run the ball through the trenches but are stopped with a short gain bringing up 2nd and 5. Again and again Sheffield are able to move the ball forward with repeated running plays being ran straight down the Saxons throats. Each run gaining a hand full of yards. With some tricky play action the Predators now reach the Saxons red zone with relative ease as they stay dedicated to the running game. Eventually the Predators take to the air and connect with a good pass and gain approximately 15 yards right down on Saxons 5 yard line. The drive ends with the Predators able to punch the ball home in the Saxons end zone. Sheffield choose to go for it to take an even bigger lead and are successful with that all too familiar pre snap movement that has proven deadly so far. The ball is kicked off deep by the Predators and the Saxons manage to run it back to their 18 yard line before being stopped. Nick Tilbury leads his offence on to the field 8 points down to begin the Saxons first drive. The first play is on the ground and Mike ‘Wheels’ Robinson takes the carry for a short gain. A couple more running attempts leave the Saxons short and Dale Hawes punts the ball away where it rests on the Predators 30 yard line before being touched by the Saxons. On the Predators second drive the Saxons defence now seem accustomed to the Predators ground game and they get the stop handing over possession to the Saxons Offence. The Saxons start this drive with a short pass which finds its mark for a short gain. Tilbury then tries the run handing the ball off under centre to running back Derek Hylton but he is stopped at the line of scrimmage. On the third play Nick Tilbury take the snap from the shot gun and passes the ball to Tyre Jones who breaks a tackle to run free into the Predators end zone for a touchdown. The Saxons kick the PAT but it is no good leaving the score at 8 – 6. The kick goes deep once again and the Predators return the ball to about their 10 yard line before the Saxons special team descends on them with a solid gang tackle. Sheffield takes to the ground again and tears off more chunks of yardage before switching to a pass. This enables the Saxons pass rush to force a bad pass which is picked off at the Predator’s 20 yard line. The ball is returned to the 3 yard line but play is brought back to the 20. Bobby leads this assault with a run to the right which is stopped just after the first down marker. The Saxons go back to the air and gain some solid ground before handing it off to Derek who runs it in with ease to put the Saxons into the lead. This time the Saxons go for the two points but are stopped on the ground making the score now 8 – 12. The kick off bounces in the Predators end zone and goes out of bounds for a touch back. The Predators remain on the ground and slowly march the Saxons back to their end zone. More running plays move the ball forward before the Predators switch to the air in the Saxons half for a long pass. The Predators running back runs unchallenged until he reaches the 3 yard line and is brought down just inside the Saxons end zone. Sheffield opts for the two points again but this time is stopped by a ferocious D line. The score is now 14 – 12. Sheffield kicks the ball back to the Saxons which is returned to the 20 yard line. Wheels takes the hand off and run for a short gain before the whistle is blown for the end of quarter.

Second Quarter

Bobby gets the ball from Nick and runs for a short gain. The Saxons drive is unsuccessful and the ball is punted away. The Predators try to pass the ball but it is intercepted at the 20 yard line and nearly ran into the end zone by middle Linebacker Jonathan Palmer. The Saxons first attempt from the 1 yard line is stopped but the pass on the second attempt is good and Tight end Jason Bradshaw catches the ball in the end zone for a touchdown and the Saxons get the two point conversion making the score now 14 – 20. The Saxons kick another deep kick off but this time it bounces out of bounds before the end zone. The predators start their drive from the 35 yard line. More running plays from the predators push the ball down the field yard by yard. Eventually the Predators are stopped and punt the ball away which lands in the Saxons end zone. The Saxons drive begins with another pass which is carried forward for nearly 10 yard before being stopped at the 30 yard line. The next play is a disaster for the Saxons and the ball carrier is dropped with a loss of ground. Peterborough is forced to punt the ball away and it sails out of bounds at the Predators 38 yard line. Once again the Predators employ their starburst-esque running plays with good results for them and get the ball deep into Saxon territory before and elaborate run with a dive at the end sees the Predators score again. Sheffield kick the PAT and put themselves into the lead again at 21 – 20. The kick-off is fielded at the Saxons 4 yard line and run back well before being pushed out of bounds at the 35 yard line. More dazzling passing plays gain the Saxons yardage quickly and slot receiver Andre Primer makes the catch before running into the Predators end zone unchallenged for the score. The PAT kick is good and the Saxons take the lead once more at 21 – 27. Peterborough kicks the ball deep and the returner from Sheffield is flattened at the 15 yard line. Sheffield go straight for the pass which is intercepted in traffic by the Saxons and returned to the Predators 45 yard line. Tilbury continues his dominance of the air and with two passes put the Saxons back into spitting distance from the Predators end zone. Two bad plays on the ground and the Saxons are back to the 15 yard line. A bad snap and the Saxons are placed at the 21 yard line and go for the field goal. The kick is good and the Saxons extend their lead to 21 – 30. Another deep kick sees the Predators take to the field at the 20 yard line after the touch back. The Predators try the long pass but it is intercepted by the Saxons with a short gain. Nick Tilbury executes the draw plenty brilliantly and the Saxons gain a massive chunk of yardage. Another long pass and the Saxons have possession on the Predators 10 yard line. The ball is passed again by Tilbury but there are flags on the play for pass interference. With time nearly over in the half the Saxons choose the field goal but it is no good. The officials signal the end of the first half.

Third Quarter

The Saxons receive the ball and begin the half with a long pass to Dale Hawes who after a fantastic display of speed and agility gains plenty of yards before being tackled at the Predators 15 yard line. Peterborough struggle to make a play and Quarterback Cameron Field is eventually sacked at the 18 yard line. The Saxons kick the field goal which is good and brings the score to 21 – 33. The kick-off is fielded at the Predators 5 and returned to about the 20 yard line. Its business as usual with the Predators running the ball through the trenches before being stopped by the Saxons defence. As Peterborough take possession the heavens open and heavy rain sets in. This doesn’t deter the Saxons passing game and once again they manage a deep pass in the middle of the field to be caught deep in Predator territory. The Saxons try to run the ball into the Predators end zone but to no avail. An incomplete pass signals the ends of Saxon possession and the Predators get the ball back. The Predators demonstrate their tenacity with the ground game and the Saxons defence try equalling this with true grit and determination. The ball is still moving towards the Saxon end zone but very slowly indeed. The Predators execute an impressive sweep play and gain a large amount of ground and are looking threatening again. Another run puts the ball just inside the Saxons red zone. More running gains little and the Predators running back suffers from an unfortunate slip on 4th down to give the Saxons the ball inside of their 10 yard line. The Saxons try to run the ball but are stopped and on the second run Bobby is brought down in the Saxon end zone for a safety. The score now is 23 – 33. The kick goes deep but the Predators manage to run the ball back to their own 40 yard line. The Predators progress is steady and the third quarter comes to an end on the Saxons 20 yard line.

Fourth Quarter

The Predators gradually move the ball towards the Saxons end zone before a sweep play finally put the Sheffield team into the end zone for a touchdown. The two point conversion is good and the score is now 31 – 33. Predators to kick off and the ball bounces out of the Saxons returners hands and he struggles to find some room to manoeuvre. The tackle is finally made at the Saxons 5 yard line. On the first play the ball slips from the Quarterbacks hands and it is recovered in the Saxons end zone by a Predator defender for the safety. The Predators tie the game in this nail biter to 33 – 33. Saxons kick the ball into the Predators end zone for a touch back. The Predators move the ball with some success but have to punt the ball away. The Saxons struggle to put together their passing play and in turn have to punt the ball away from their own 5 yard line. The Predators begin this drive from their own 40 yard line. More running plays move the ball into the Saxons half before a fumble is recovered by the Saxons. The Saxons begin their drive looking for the pass but the Quarterback is sacked. On second down the pass is completed for a short gain and lateraled back to Wheels who gains a few more yards before being tackled. It is not enough and the Saxons are forced to punt again. The Predators take possession from their 23 yard line. Sheffield tries to change the pace of the game and make a long pass to mid field. The Predators resume their running plays and begin to slowly move the ball down field. The clock runs as they get inside the Saxons 10 yard line. With only four seconds remaining the Predators attempt a field goal to ensure victory but the Saxons defence manage to get in the way of the ball and it is no good.

Overtime

The British American Football Association play by NCAA rules and so to decide the winner of the game each team is to take the ball on the 25 yard line and attempt to score. If they fail to score then the possession is passed to the other team and the process repeats itself until a team scores. Whoever does is the overall winner. The Peterborough Saxons take possession first. The first play is a pass but it is incomplete. The second attempt is again but the pass rush forces a bad pass which falls incomplete. On 3rd and 10 the ball is passed but this time intercepted by the Predators. The first play is a run through the middle which gain about 5 yards. Second and 5 sees another run from the Predators for another gain. On third and three the Predators run again but its short and brings up 4th and 1. The Predators make it over the line for a fresh set of downs. With a sweep the Predators make it to the 5 yard line before being shoved out of bounds. The chains are brought on for the measure and it brings up 1st and goal on the 5. First down and it’s a run to the right for a 2 yard gain. On second and three the Predators run a sweep to the left and running back Darren Gayle makes it inside the pylon for the winning touchdown. Final score 39 – 33 to the Sheffield Predators.

Words by Jamie Carter