Belfast Trojans, Carrickfergus Knights convincing winners in Week 8 of the Irish American Football League

In Week 8 of the Irish American Football League in what was time to switch attentions onto the Shamrock Bowl North Conference, three teams in the division were all in competitive action this past weekend.

The Belfast Trojans and Carrickfergus Knights held the joint top spot in the division with the same record, however the Knights victory over the Trojans two weeks ago gave them the edge. The South Dublin Panthers who followed closely behind were hoping to add another scalp to the Trojans losing streak, whereas the North Kildare Reapers were targeting their first win of the season as they welcomed the Carrickfergus Knights south of the border.

  Belfast Trojans (2-2) 9 – South Dublin Panthers (1-3) 0 

Photo courtesy of Bob Given Photography.

Under the blistering heat in Belfast, the Trojans overcame a resolute Panthers outfit 9-0 in a defensive battle at Deramore Park. In a match that would have telling implications in the cluttered Shamrock Bowl North Conference, a win for either side would greatly improve their chances of making the playoffs.

The Trojans started brightly as they looked to bounce back from two straight defeats. After pinning the Panthers inside their own 10 from the opening kickoff, they forced a punt from the opposition as penalties pushed the Dubliners back within their own end-zone. With strong field position, Belfast looked to capitalise on the early errors from the Panthers.

That wasn’t to be the case however as on the resulting drive, the Panthers intercepted the ball to switch the possession. After a long reception brought the Panthers within field goal range, quarterback, Tosan Memuduaghan was intercepted by defensive back Scott Morrow, his first of three on the day, that killed what looked to be a promising drive from the opponents.

Stealing momentum, the Trojans made their way downfield and took the first score of the game as fullback Neil Montgomery stormed in from close range. Kicker Jack McLaughlin converted the XP to give Belfast a slim 7-0 lead. Into the second half, the Trojans defence continued to stutter the Panthers attack with a strong run defence that held the Dubliners to little yards all game. However, with the Belfast offence unable to add points to their total, the Panthers were still within reach of coming back.

As minutes continued to count down, the Panthers threw caution to wind and went for broke. A long aerial pass down the sideline was intercepted again by Morrow, who returned to ball to the 5 yard line. Despite the offence failing to score on the drive, once the Panthers resumed possession of the football the Trojans defence’s excellent pressure forced a safety that all but sealed the win.

The Trojans return to winning ways and will now switch focus to their next home against the Carrickfergus Knights. The Panthers have now lost 3 of their last 4 games with top spot in the SBC North slipping away. A victory against the North Kildare Reapers on May 21st could change that.

  Carrickfergus Knights (2-2) 62 – North Kildare Reapers (0-4) 6 

Photography by Charisse Mae Ducao.

The Knights impressive form continued as they travelled to Kildare and put on a show as they ran out convincing 62-6 winners. The victory helps keep Carrickfergus in pole position in the North division with the final playoff stretch looming. Meanwhile the Reapers struggles continue as another heavy defeat fears to derail their season.

Knights QB Spencer McDowell was outstanding throughout the game as he passed for 5 touchdowns and rushed for 1. He also completed 100% of snaps at both quarterback and linebacker. Receptions on the day came from the receiving quartet of Conrad Smith, Chris Ireland, Jordan Clinton and Marty Caskey who scored twice.

McDowell and Damon Ashmore both rushed for scores whilst featured back Gareth Millar both opened and completed the scoring with two rushing touchdowns of his own. Caskey also completed 8 of 9 PAT’s to round out the scoring.

The Reapers did manage to end their scoring drought with a consolation attempt by Jeff Ganley that brought the match to 14-6, but the Knights kicked up a gear and put on a solid display that see’s them stretch their record to (2-2). North Kildare now have a serious task ahead of them. Although playoff football is still a mathematical possibility, their current form has seen them concede 213 points whilst only scoring 12 points over 4 games; the worst in the league in both categories.

They have managed to pull off some major scalps over the big sides in recent years and they will need some of that magic if they are to avoid enduring a winless season, and potentially demotion. That task will start with the trip to Dublin to face the South Dublin Panthers as the Knights travel across city to face the Belfast Trojans in 2 weeks in a big North division clash.

Scott Morrow
Scott is an aspiring Sports Journalist who enjoys writing about all things American Football. He is a regular contributor to AFI Review and also writes for both NFL Ireland and Double Coverage, and currently plays for the Belfast Trojans. He also supports the Green Bay Packers.
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