A hat-trick from the departing Danny Miller and a heroic performance from a depleted defence got the 5-2 Nottingham Caesars back on track with a 34-6 win over Shropshire Revolution.
In his final game of the regular season, the NTU student ran for 107 yards in tough conditions and also picked up a sack on defence.
Miller opened the scoring as the Caesars began with now customary vigour, but the visitors hit straight back. Rob McLean found Andren Morgan in the back of the endzone on a big fourth down pass, but the missed PAT maintained a one point advantage for the Big Cee.
As the rain bucketed down on the Harvey Hadden and a defensive battle ensued, thoughts were cast back to the infamous “Swamp Bowl” against Lancashire Wolverines, and the visitors could have taken the lead going into half time after a big run set up a 32-yard field goal attempt.
However, a brilliant block from the defensive line was recovered first by Dave Hine, with lateral pass to Andrew Wilkins on the run-back returning possession to the Caesars.
As the second half began, the home team began to find some real rhythm on offence, and Miller capped off their opening drive by churning the ball in from two yards out.
The resulting Shropshire possession ended abruptly with a fumbled snap which was recovered by Dave Hine, and a pair of long runs by Miller set up a Dan Johnson field goal with the game in the fourth quarter.
That score seemed to demoralise the visiting Revolution, and another Johnson field goal off the back of some fine running from Simon Dale gave the Caesars a two-score cushion.
A three-man sack early in the Revolution’s return drive forced McLean to attempt a long pass, but Andrew Wilkins forced the ball out of the quarterback’s hands and into those of fellow linebacker Tim Davies, who ran the ball in the remaining ten yards for his first career score.
There was still time for Miller to complete his hat-trick after yet more pressure from the Caesars linebacker unit forced McLean to attempt to give up a safety by intentionally grounding the ball.
With every point counting for the Big Cee, the penalty was declined and the ball spotted at the point of Jimmy Smith’s recovery, leaving time for Miller to complete his hat-trick and the Caesars’ scoring with a two-yard run – his 12th touchdown of the season.
The result moves Nottingham to second place in the division with a 5-2 record, but more importantly saw all three phases of the ball but in good performances, with the special teams tackling of rookie Lee Rowley a particular plus point.
The Caesars now travel to Telford for a re-match with Shropshire next Sunday knowing that a win will continue their push for the play-offs.
It was a good day all round for the Caesars as the Junior team maintained their unbeaten record with a 47-8 win over Leicester.
Danny Miller – 29 carries for 109 yards, 3TDs, 1 sack
Simon Dale – 3.5 tackles, 5 carries for 39 yards
Andrew Wilkins – 4 tackles, 1 sack (forced fumble)
Jimmy Smith – 2 tackles, 1 fumble recovery
Tim Davies – 1.5 tackles, 1 fumble recovery (TD)