11th December 2001 - Sweet revenge for England over Scotland
ENGLAND enjoyed sweet revenge over traditional rival Scotland with a 14-0 victory to
lift the Sky Sports NFL Sunday Trophy at Saffron Lane Stadium in Leicester, erasing the
memory of their loss to the Scots a year ago.
The under 19-year-olds battled for the annual trophy in a clash that will be televised
during future regular season coverage of the 2001 NFL season on Sky Sports. A youthful
Scotland side struggled to prize open an England defense that held a sizeable weight and
height advantage to shut out the visitors from north of the border.
In last years meeting in Glasgow Scotland stormed to a 44-2 victory, but there
was to be no free-scoring repeat as both sides struggled to hold onto the ball in crisp
conditions and turnovers regularly halted offensive drives.
Team Europe candidate Jordan Falconer, who plays junior ball for East Kilbride
Pirates intercepted a tipped pass early on to put the Scots in commanding field position.
But as quickly as Scotland mounted an offensive threat, the English defense, led by MVP Paolo
Bandini of the Warwick University Wolves, came up with a turnover of its own.
All the scoring came in the second quarter as a ground attack led by the elusive
rushing of London Blitz running back and offensive MVP Lennox Johnson led England
to within striking distance of the endzone. London Os passer Luke Smith capped his
final international appearance at junior level with a quarterback keeper from a yard out
to open the scoring and Pete Rogers of Tees Valley added the extra point.
"This is the perfect way to end my junior career," said Smith, who will turn
20 in the summer. "This makes up for last year when I missed the game up in Glasgow
because I was having my wisdom teeth removed. I know the other lads came back from that
loss upset at the score, so Im pleased for them that we won."
Scotland was haunted by another turnover and England took full advantage as the
dominant Johnson carried the ball to the 4-yard mark. A holding penalty pushed England
back five yards, but gave Smith the space to drop back and pick out Os wide receiver Graham
Warby in the corner of the endzone with a lofted pass for a second touchdown. Rogers
was again true with the PAT.
Scotland might have produced an instant comeback before halftime, but two promising
drives stalled short of the endzone. Quarterback Robbie Paulin of the Moray Firth Dolphins
fumbled and Os defensive lineman Christopher Wavenbwei recovered, then on fourth down a
Paulin pass aimed for Team Europe prospect wide receiver Mark Squires was batted down by
London Blitz defensive back Tim Tang.
"Im delighted for the lads who have worked long and hard for this win,"
said England head coach Simon Newnham. "Last year we endured a long and
delayed train journey to Scotland and were demoralised by a heavy defeat. Now they can
erase the memory of that loss and enjoy victory."
Former Scottish Claymores wide receiver Scott Couper coached the Scotland
wideouts and said: "Im proud of those kids. They played their hearts out and
although there was a definite mismatch size wise, they learned a lot and theyll
bounce back. Just as England was the younger and less experienced team last year, we are
this time, but that means in 2002 well have a wiser and very hungry team looking to
recapture the trophy."
Chairman of the British American Football Association Gary Marshall presented
the Sky Sports NFL Sunday Trophy to MVPs Johnson and Bandini and had words of
encouragement for players on both sides.
"What we saw here today is that there is a promising future for the game in this
country," he said. "Two young teams fought hard and proudly represented their
country and these players will carry the game forward and hopefully continue to enjoy
playing for many more years.
"This might have been a game of two teams on opposite sides of the ball, but when
they all come together in the form of Great Britain next summer and take on the rest of
Europe, I can see there will be a great combination of talent."
Great Britain join five other nations to contest the 2002 European Junior Championship
next year and will include coaches and players from both England and Scotland in an
attempt to wrestle the championship from the grip of reigning champion Germany.