Belgium: Limburg Shotguns hold on to early lead en route to decisive win over Ghent Gators

The Limburg Shotguns took command early in their game against the Ghent Gators and didn’t let up despite a strong second half showing by the visitors, cruising to a comfortable 51-32 win this past weekend at Beringen Mine Stadium in Beringen, Belgium.

The Gators provided some excitement from the first play, starting the game off with an onside kick that actually went the Shotguns’ way. With windy conditions defining much of the play, the Shotguns kept the ball on the ground and turned to veteran running back Jaycen Taylor to lead the offense. He logged a touchdown on the first drive, a sign of what was to come throughout the contest.

The Shotguns were just getting started. On the Gators’ very first drive, they fumbled, allowing Taylor another opportunity to dominate on the ground. He spun his way down the field, putting the Shotguns in field goal position. Jerome Bottin cashed in on the kick.

The 10-0 lead did not deter the Shotguns from continuing to pile on the Gators. Linebacker Timo Daniëls snagged a pick for the second Gator turnover in as many drivers. Before the end of the first quarter, Taylor had his second touchdown. He had made three key plays in three drives for the Shotguns, who took a 17-0 lead.

Limburg ball carrier #10 evading Ghent tackler Photo: 66 Photography

Though it was only the end of the first quarter, and it looked as though the Gators could recover, they continued to struggle into the second period. Shotguns safety Jakob Skolik put his mark on the game with a pick-six, extending the lead to 24 and putting the Shotguns in position to cruise to a blowout win.

From there, however, the Gators responded. Stephen Amant led them to a touchdown, which they followed up with a two-point conversion. This cut the lead to two possessions, keeping the Gators within striking distance despite a tough start.

And despite this first sign of good fortune, the Gators’ long day dealing with Jaycen Taylor showed no signs of stopping. Taylor worked his way through the Gator defense for his third touchdown of the day. Still, the Gators offense was finally on point, and they scored back-to-back touchdowns through wide receivers Senne Keuppens and Thomas Lezy. They went into halftime down just 20-31 in a shootout.

The Gators, it seemed, had found a rhythm offensively. Though they still couldn’t stop the Shotguns offense, they were able to put points on the board at will. Touchdowns from Thomas Lezy and Amant, as well as a score from Shotguns quarterback Oskar Sardyga, reduced the Limburg lead to 38-32 with one quarter of play left.

The valiant Ghent effort, however, gave out. The slow start was too much to overcome. They were forced to throw the ball time and again in windy conditions, and Skolik logged his second pick of the game. The Shotguns, of course, turned to the man who had led them all game: Jaycen Taylor. He scored his fourth and final touchdown of the game, securing a Limburg win with an 85-yard scorcher.

Michel Eeman, the chairman and linebacker for the Shotguns, discussed the Limburg mindset going into the game.

“We missed a number of important players and knew it could be a difficult game. We were able to bring the game to a good end with willpower. Finally, I hope that the many injuries are not too bad so that we can play at full strength against the Groningen Giants next weekend.”

The Limburg Shotguns now have a week to prepare for their away game against the Groningen Giants on March 26 in the BNL competition.