University of West England Bullets capture BUCS Premiership crown

By Brad Duff

The University of West England Bullets defeated the University of Nottingham Gold 34-27 in the BUCS Premiership National Championship.

From the moment the game started, it was clear it was going to be a battle, with Nottingham’s defense forcing UWE to go 3 and out, an unfamiliar experience for UWE.

Nottingham had the ball moving on offence, with runs from Robby Rowell and George Dominguez gaining first downs.

Shortly after however, Rowell rolled left on a play action and looked over the middle, only to be picked off by UWE’s Dante Sparaco in the redzone.

UWE got the ball back and had clearly flipped a switch kicking the drive off with a huge completion, Hamish McClure splitting the safeties to find Jersey Eickhorst deep in Nottingham territory.

McClure found Ethan Fischler in stride setting up first and goal, before hitting Fischler yet again, who adjusted well to a lofted ball in the endzone, putting the Bullets on the scoreboard. Karekin Brooks found the endzone on the conversion, making the score 8-0 in favor of UWE.

Nottingham’s next possession was not a long one, with Rowell tucking and running downfield, only to be met by Sparaco who stripped the ball. Jax Crawford recovered the fumble, putting the ball back in the hands of Hamish McClure.

McClure almost single headedly took the Bullets into the redzone, causing problems for the Nottingham defense with his legs. He then hit Sparaco on the run in the back of the endzone, who had quickly asserted himself as a key playmaker on both sides of the ball. Brooks mishandled the snap on the conversion, keeping the score at 14-0.

The subsequent Nottingham possession started well, with a 40-yard rush from Dominguez putting them in Bullets territory. They were unable to capitalise on this however, as a Dennis Johnson tackle-for-loss and a Harrison Kane sack brought up a turnover on downs.

McClure started the next drive with a 40-yard rush of his own, which UWE managed to turn into another score by picking up another first down on the ground and setting up a QB sneak, which Sparaco punched in. The two-point conversion was converted by Brooks making the score 22-0.

Following a kick-off return touchdown by Tofunmi Lala that was called back for a hold, Nottingham’s offense took the field.

The Gold were quick to make up for the could-be special teams score; Robby Rowell hit Jonathan Mbanefo over the top of the UWE secondary for a 62-yard touchdown. A successful PAT attempt made the score 22-7.

Things continued to go Nottingham’s way, with Khalid Adisa forcing a fumble on the kickoff and Isaac Foster getting the recovery.

The offense was unable to move the ball, but kicker Danylo Szlachetko Blackburn split the uprights from 45 yards out putting the score at 22-10.

After another UWE 3-and-out, Rowell found Finley Old on a deep ball to take Nottingham to the 3 yard line. Despite a huge tackle-for-loss by Dennis Johnson and Jax Crawford, Nottingham made the most of their field position, ending the drive with Rowell trucking his way into the endzone. Nottingham went for two but came up short, keeping the score at 22-16.

With just 18 seconds left in the half Nottingham managed to get the ball back in UWE territory, thanks to a strip sack from Benjamin Koudougou. Szlachetko Blackburn showed off his range with an impressive 47-yarder to end the half 22-19 to UWE.

With all the momentum going their way, Nottingham started the half with some big carries from Rowell and Dominguez, but this was short lived, as Amrit Chatha made a big tackle-for-loss, followed by a strip sack.

UWE drove down the field before Hamish McClure hit Ethan Fischler in stride down the sideline for a 40-yard touchdown. Another mishandled snap on the conversion keeps the score at 28-19.


After a missed Nottingham field goal, McClure went to Eickhorst on a screen, which he ran 30-yards into the endzone.

With the score at 34-19, Nottingham managed to get the ball back with a fourth down stop just inside the two-minute warning.

A long Robby Rowell set George Dominguez up for a five yard rushing touchdown.

With the successful two-point attempt bringing the game back to a one score difference, Nottingham went for the onside kick but were unsuccessful, allowing UWE to finish the game in victory formation, winning the game 34-27.

Unsurprisingly, Dante Sparaco was named MVP, finishing the game with one forced fumble, one interception, one receiving touchdown and a rushing touchdown.

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