The Lincolnshire Bombers bounced back from defeat to table-topping Shropshire Revolution with a dominant performance over basement side Crewe Railroaders on a scorching day in Cheshire.
With temperatures touching 100 degrees, it was the Bombers offence on fire – racking up 46 points and seven touchdowns on the road. Experienced quarterback Andy Bagnall tearing up the Railroaders defence to the tune of five passing touchdowns, a rushing score and over 100 yards on the ground to provide the benchmark for a rousing away performance.
Earlier in the season, when the sides met in Lincoln, it was the Bombers who raced out of the blocks to a 19-0 lead in the first quarter, however, the story was almost a very different one early doors in Crewe.
The Railroaders, fresh from five weeks off, curtailed the Bombers opening drive for just a solitary first down before picking off Bagnall deep in Bomber territory on the second effort – leaving themselves in excellent field position to take an early lead.
However, the Bombers D, facing their own goalline, stood up to the task and not only prevented the early touchdown, but forced the Railroaders out of field goal range with Neil Jefferson’s sack taking them towards centre-field.
Having been bailed out by the defence, the offence kicked into gear and duly marched down the field. Charles Osei started the drive with a 20 yard burst down the middle before a third and long completion from Bagnall to the returning Russell Moore put the Bombers in striking range.
It was the same couple who combined moments later to give the visitors the lead and the successful PAT sent Lincolnshire into the second quarter with a 7-0 advantage.
From that point on, the remainder of the first half was all Bombers.
The defence making another immediate stop with the Railroaders inside runs making no headway into the D-Line of Jefferson, Ben Harris and Matt Benson, with the linebackers sweeping up any stragglers. That allowed the offence to drive again; runs from Ross Wheatley and Andy Bagnall plus a penalty for a facemask drove the Bombers on.
Then, another pass, this time from Wheatley, connected with Moore down the right sideline – pushing the Bombers into the redzone. This time it would be tight end Morgan Page on the end of a Bagnall pass, to send the Bombers further ahead – although the PAT was blocked.
Another quick Railroaders three-and-out was quickly followed by a third Bombers score. Bagnall sending the ball deep to Matt Hale who, just like against the Revs the week before, beat his man deep to pick up the TD.
If the turnaround for the third score was quick, then the fourth was even quicker. Graham Owens forcing and recovering the fumble within Railroaders territory to put the offence back on the field. Leading to Bagnall finding Morgan Page for the second time – on this occasion the tight end bullying his way through two defenders to drive into the endzone. With Bagnall running in the 2pt conversion, the Bombers lead was extended to 27-0 at half-time.
At this point the Bombers were relentless and following more excellent work from the defence and a long punt return from Callum Huckle, the fifth touchdown was soon on its way. A key third down conversion over the middle to Lewis Colver was followed soon after by Bagnall driving over the line himself from 5 yards. The 2pt conversion for a 35 point lead (and the running clock on a hot day) was missed.
After almost three quarters of domination the Railroaders were finally able to respond. Pushed back after big tackles from Ben Harris and Neil Jefferson again, the home side managed to connect with a deep ball to take them onto the Bombers goalline.
They duly punched in the score and added the two point conversion so the Bombers hopes of a shutout were broken as the gap closed to 33-8. As the heat started really taking its toll, the defences tired and Bombers drives became quick marches to the endzone, while the Railroaders were able to produce their own longer dives with the quarterback escaping the pocket to pick up his own yardage.
The Bombers were the next to strike, Ben Harris – unleashed on the offence, picked up one first down (throwing in a hurdle for good measure) before rolling out for the touchdown run from 20 yards to extend the lead to 40-8, before the Railroaders hit back with their own drive against a tiring Bombers D to close to 40-16.
However, the visitors would have the last say, another long touchdown grab by Matt Hale from the arm of Bagnall took the Bombers to a 46-16 lead and the final score, with a last play sack by Ben Pardey wrapping up an excellent away win.
With that result the side moves to .500 for the season and with the prospect of a potentially huge fixture upcoming against the Halton Spartans on July 2nd in Lincoln which could be the crucial factor in determining which side might end the season with a winning record.