Claymores make the big plays count

American football

Scottish Claymores 20 Frankfurt Galaxy 17

There is a saying in that offenses will win games, but defenses win championships. If that is the case, then the Scottish Claymores will be difficult to stop this season.

Yesterday the Claymores struggled all afternoon against an intense Frankfurt Galaxy, only to be kept in the game by their defence, which made a series of big plays at crucial times.

Ironically an absorbing, physical contest was decided by Scotland's two kickers. First McCallum, who had missed two earlier attempts, converted an awkward 46-yard field goal with just one second remaining, giving the Claymores a 20-17 lead. Then as the Galaxy attempted a desperation kick- off return, the final tackle was made by Gavin Hastings, the former Scotland rugby union captain who has now converted to gridiron.

The game was completely different from the teams' first meeting two weeks ago, when Scotland dominated their opponents on the way to a comfortable 20-0 victory. There was little between them this time, with both defenses performing magnificently.

Galaxy were the first to open their account when Chris Hall intercepted a Steve Matthews pass and returned it for a touchdown. Matthews, allocated to the Claymores by the Kansas City Chiefs, had a trying afternoon, throwing four interceptions and giving up a fumble.

However, the Galaxy were unable to make little impression themselves, the quarterback Steve Pelluer eventually wilting in the face of a relentless onslaught, to be replaced in the fourth quarter by Brad Bretz.

The only offensive player to shine was Sean LaChapelle. The Claymores receiver, also on loan from the Chiefs, pulled in a 52 yard scoring pass from Matthews late in the third quarter, his fifth touchdown of the season, levelling the scores at 10 apiece.

Then Scotland defence took over. The safety George Coghill made his fifth interception of the year, returning Bretz's errant pass 32 yards for a touchdown, and the Claymores held a seven-point advantage.

That looked to be sufficient, until Bretz found the receiver Jay Kearney with a 44-yard touchdown with less than a minute remaining. Overtime seemed inevitable until LaChapelle caught two Matthews passes to move the Claymores into field goal range.