American football: Perfect timing from Parker

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THE SCOTTISH Claymores and the England Monarchs may have suffered a season of disappointment, but they served up a thriller at Murrayfield yesterday afternoon.

Despite trailing three times, the Claymores came out with a 27-24 victory when Gary Parker converted a 21-yard field goal as time expired. The moment was particularly sweet for Parker, one of only a handful of Scotsmen with the team.

"I've been comfortable striking the ball all season, and have been waiting for a chance to make a game-winning kick," said Parker. "It was a huge adrenaline rush, and for a Scotsman, beating an English team is always special."

It was a dramatic encounter. The Monarchs took the lead when Victor Muhammad scored on a five-yard run. Their quarterback, Josh LaRocca, confirmed his growing maturity with a pair of touchdown passes to Alan Allen and Shawn Turner.

However, the Claymores stayed with them, with the contribution of Vernon Turner particularly significant. The former NFL veteran, who has been in Scotland less than a week, rushed for more than a hundred yards, scoring two touchdowns.

Even so, the visitors were still leading with less than two minutes remaining, until Parker tied the scores with a 27-yard field goal.

The game's decisive moment came when LaRocca lost the ball and Brad Keeney recovered, giving Parker his chance of glory. Even then there was more drama: his first attempt was blocked, but the Monarchs had jumped offside, giving him a second opportunity.

"This win means a great deal for the players," said the Scotland coach, Jim Criner. "They understand what the rivalry between England and Scotland means up here, and they were determined to win, not just for themselves, but for these fans."