2000 Season

2000 Scottish Claymores Game by Game

Date Opponent Result Record Attendance
04/16/2000 (Sun) Amsterdam Admirals W, 28-9 1-0-0 8,726
04/22/2000 (Sat) @ Frankfurt Galaxy W, 17-14 2-0-0 32,459
04/29/2000 (Sat) @ Berlin Thunder L, 24-20 2-1-0 7,913
05/07/2000 (Sun) Berlin Thunder W, 42-3 3-1-0 8,912
05/13/2000 (Sat) @ Rhein Fire L, 22-10 3-2-0 30,537
05/21/2000 (Sun) Frankfurt Galaxy L, 31-30 OT 3-3-0 9,127
05/27/2000 (Sat) Barcelona Dragons W, 28-0 4-3-0 8,827
06/03/2000 (Sat) @ Amsterdam Admirals W, 42-10 5-3-0 10,867
06/10/2000 (Sat) Rhein Fire W, 31-24 6-3-0 10,126
06/18/2000 (Sun) @ Barcelona Dragons L, 28-25 6-4-0 8,200
06/25/2000 (Sun) Rhein Fire L, 13-10 6-5-0 35,860

2000 Scottish Claymores Roster

No Surname Firstname Position Height Weight Birth College How Acquired
88 Abe Nachi TE 6-0 254 13/01/1970 Nihon University National Japan
66 Abernathy Chad G 6-5 302 02/07/1976 Arkansas Waivers 00
86 Allen Tremayne TE 6-2 241 09/08/1974 Florida D12-00
15 Ballantyne Jon P 6-3 206 29/07/1969 None National Australia
46 Bayne Chris DB 6-6 210 22/03/1975 Fresno State D5-00
75 Benoit Jermaine DE 6-3 235 11/07/1975 Central Florida National England
39 Blackwell Kory CB 5-11 185 03/08/1972 Massachusetts NFL Giants
21 Blenman Rowelle WR 5-10 185 12/03/1967 Harper College National England
89 Brady Rickey TE 6-4 265 19/11/1971 Oklahoma D6-97
62 Cavil Ben G 6-2 310 31/01/1972 Oklahoma FA00
81 Couper Scott WR 6-0 170 06/01/1970 Strathclyde University National Scotland
5 Crandell Marcus QB 5-11 209 06/01/1974 East Carolina NFL Chiefs
65 Curry Scott T 6-5 304 25/12/1975 Montana NFL Packers
13 Daft Kevin QB 6-2 203 19/11/1975 UC Davis NFL Titans
74 Dingle Antonio DT 6-2 315 07/10/1976 Virginia NFL Panthers
78 Douglas Rome T 6-6 301 12/10/1976 Southern California Trade 00
35 Eafon Kelvin RB 5-11 215 18/11/1974 Arizona D17-00
50 Finkes Matt LB 6-2 258 12/05/1975 Ohio State D7-99
63 Gamble Jason OL 6-3 309 12/09/1975 Clemson D10-00
84 Gibson Damon WR 5-8 183 25/02/1975 Iowa D11-00
54 Glover Phil LB 5-11 254 17/12/1975 Utah NFL Titans
67 Green Cornell T 6-6 324 25/08/1976 Central Florida D4-00
8 Hart Robert K 5-10 171 04/11/1974 Murray State National England
38 Hawthorne Duane CB 5-10 178 26/08/1976 Northern Illinois NFL Cowboys
53 Hesse Jon LB 6-4 250 06/06/1973 Nebraska NFL Rams
90 Mason Michael DE 6-3 275 04/03/1974 Kentucky State D20-00
22 McClellion Central DB 5-11 193 15/09/1975 Ohio State D3-00
45 McElmurry Blaine S 6-0 195 23/10/1973 Montana NFL Jaguars
19 Mitchell Deon WR 5-10 185 30/04/1976 Northern Illinois NFL Cowboys
65 Newell Mike C 6-4 300 22/07/1976 Colorado State NFL Packers
29 Ray Marcus S 5-11 220 14/08/1976 Michigan NFL Raiders
80 Sanford Sulecio WR 5-10 190 23/03/1976 Middle Tennessee State NFL Bears
97 Scarlett Noel DT 6-3 315 21/01/1974 Langston NFL Patriots
76 Scifres Steve G 6-3 300 22/01/1972 Wyoming FA00
4 Sellers Donald WR 6-0 195 30/12/1974 New Mexico NFL Rams
96 Simmons Rasheed DE 6-5 259 17/09/1975 Maryland NFL Panthers
55 Smith Brian LB 6-1 248 25/02/1978 Alabama-Birmingham NFL Falcons
33 Snell Ben RB 6-2 225 24/07/1976 Ohio Northern NFL Ravens
44 Sochart Peter RB 6-3 253 05/01/1974 Stevenson College National Scotland
28 Stacy Siran RB 5-10 195 08/06/1968 Alabama D5-95
27 Stecker Aaron RB 5-11 207 13/11/1974 Western Illinois NFL Bucs
7 Sunaga Takayuki QB 6-2 211 25/05/1968 Nihon University National Japan
40 Tarver Hurley DB 6-0 186 30/11/1975 Central State Oklahoma NFL Packers
85 Tate Willy TE 6-2 243 08/07/1972 Oregon NFL Bucs
20 Taylor Cordell DB 5-11 186 22/12/1973 Hampton NFL Bears
56 Taylor Ryan LB 6-2 250 11/12/1976 Auburn NFL Browns
77 Tenner Jason OL 6-5 310 17/08/1977 Villanova NFL 49ers
92 Threats Jabbar DE 6-5 279 26/04/1975 Michigan State D6-00
91 Tovo Tom DE 6-4 290 20/07/1971 None National England
99 Ward Chris DE 6-3 274 04/02/1974 Kentucky D1-00
26 Williams Gregg S 5-10 191 12/03/1976 North Carolina FA00

2000 Scottish Claymores Statistics

Passing Att Cmp Pct Yds Avg Lg TD TD% Int Int% Sack Loss Rating
Kevin Daft 185 111 60.0 1231 6.65 65t 19 10.3 3 1.6 27 158 107.3
Marcus Crandell 121 65 53.7 754 6.23 37 5 4.1 4 3.3 8 50 72.8
TOTALS 306 176 57.5 1985 6.49 65t 24 7.8 7 2.3 35 208 93.7
Rushing Att Yds Avg TD Lg
Aaron Stecker 176 774 4.4 7 59t
Ben Snell 48 259 5.4 1 24
Kevin Daft 29 163 5.6 1 20
Marcus Crandell 12 51 4.2 2 13
Sulecio Sanford 1 12 12.0 0 12
Siran Stacy 6 12 2.0 0 4
Damon Gibson 2 3 1.5 0 3
Takayuki Sunaga 1 0 0.0 0 0
TOTALS 275 1274 4.6 11 59t
Receiving Rec Yds Avg TD Lg
Aaron Stecker 36 276 7.7 4 39t
Donald Sellers 27 353 13.1 5 34
Rickey Brady 26 333 12.8 4 26t
Damon Gibson 23 378 16.4 3 65t
Sulecio Sanford 23 275 12.0 3 29
Scott Couper 15 149 9.9 3 24
Tremayne Allen 8 69 8.6 2 18
Willy Tate 7 64 9.1 0 20
Ben Snell 5 20 4.0 0 11
Rowelle Blenman 4 43 10.8 0 20
Deon Mitchell 2 25 12.5 0 14
TOTALS 176 1985 11.3 24 65t
Kickoff Returns Num Yds Avg FC TD Lg
Sulecio Sanford 13 420 32.3 0 1 95t
Damon Gibson 13 260 20.0 0 0 43
Deon Mitchell 3 77 25.7 0 0 39
Kory Blackwell 3 40 13.3 0 0 28
Hurley Tarver 2 30 15.0 0 0 19
Ben Snell 1 11 11.0 0 0 11
TOTALS 35 838 23.9 0 1 95t
Punt Returns Num Yds Avg FC TD Lg
Damon Gibson 22 328 14.9 9 0 42
Sulecio Sanford 6 143 23.8 0 0 80
Deon Mitchell 3 20 6.7 0 0 12
TOTALS 31 491 15.8 9 0 80
Punting Punts Yds Avg Lg TB In20 Blk Ret Yds Net
Jon Ballantyne 55 2146 39.0 60 10 17 0 15 192 31.9
TOTALS 55 2146 39.0 60 10 17 0 15 192 31.9
Kicking PAT FG 0-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ Lg Pts
Rob Hart 34/34 7/11 0/05/61/11/40/042 55
TOTALS 34/34 7/11 0/0 5/6 1/1 1/4 0/0 42 55
Defense Sacks Loss Ints Yds Avg TDs Lg
Chris Bayne 0.5 -- 0 0 0 0 0
Jermaine Benoit 2.0 -- 0 0 0 0 0
Kory Blackwell 0.0 -- 1 1 1.0 0 1
Antonio Dingle 7.0 -- 0 0 0 0 0
Matt Finkes 1.0 -- 1 6 6.0 0 6
Phil Glover 3.0 -- 1 13 13.0 0 13
Duane Hawthorne 0.0 -- 4 51 12.8 0 27
Jon Hesse 3.0 -- 2 60 30.0 0 32
Michael Mason 7.0 -- 0 0 0 0 0
Central McClellion 0.0 -- 1 1 1.0 0 1
Blaine McElmurry 0.0 -- 4 89 22.2 0 52
Marcus Ray 0.0 -- 1 35 35.0 0 35
Noel Scarlett 2.5 -- 0 0 0 0 0
Hurley Tarver 1.5 -- 0 0 0 0 0
Ryan Taylor 1.0 -- 1 2 2.0 0 2
Jabbar Threats 7.0 -- 0 0 0 0 0
Tom Tovo 3.0 -- 0 0 0 0 0
Chris Ward 5.5 -- 0 0 0 0 0
TOTALS 44.0 0.0 16 258 16.1 0 52

2000 NFL Europe League Standings

Team W L T Pct PF PA Home Away
Rhein Fire 7 3 0 .700 279 209 5-0-0 2-3-0
Scottish Claymores 6 4 0 .600 273 165 4-1-0 2-3-0
Barcelona Dragons 5 5 0 .500 194 212 2-3-0 3-2-0
Amsterdam Admirals 4 6 0 .400 206 243 3-2-0 1-4-0
Berlin Thunder 4 6 0 .400 189 249 3-2-0 1-4-0
Frankfurt Galaxy 4 6 0 .400 206 269 1-4-0 3-2-0

Scottish Claymores: No.27 powers Scotland again as Claymores sink Admirals

Murrayfield, April 16 - TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS allocated running back AARON STECKER revived a Scots tradition wearing the famous No.27 of Siran Stacy to power the Scottish Claymores to a 28-9 victory over the Amsterdam Admirals at Murrayfield on Sunday.

TE Rickey Brady catches his first touchdown as a Claymore
Photo: Dave McRitchie
Game MVP Stecker caught two touchdown strikes from Tennessee Titans allocated quarterback KEVIN DAFT, the first on a 13-yard hook up before connecting on a 35-yard score to give the Claymores a winning start to their 2000 NFL Europe League season.

Daft, a pre-med student from UC-Davis, looked smart under the gun in his professional start shrugging off an early interception to throw four precision touchdown passes to sink the Admirals.

Local hero SCOTT COUPER, the Claymores' Glaswegian wide receiver, also delighted the 8,726 crowd who braved rain and cold, by hauling in a 13-yard pass from Daft for his sixth career touchdown.

Returning tight end RICKEY BRADY put the icing on the cake for the Claymores midway though the fourth quarter shrugging off two would-be tacklers to turn a short Daft pass into a 20-yard touchdown reception.

The stunned Admirals offense could only get on the scoreboard with two Silvio Diliberto field goals from 22 and 18 yards and a Jose Cortez kick from 35 yards.

Scott Couper shrugs off the coverage to make the endzone
Photo: Dave McRitchie
The Hounds of Scotland - the Claymores hard-hitting defensive line - started string stuffing out two Admirals attacks with Chris Ward and Phil Glover recording sacks on quarterback Jim Kubiak which forced the Admirals to opt for two Diliberto field goals from 22 and 18 yards and a 6-0 lead.

The Scots offense found it more difficult to get started with quarterback Kevin Daft throwing an interception on his first pass, picked off by Admirals cornerback Antonio Banks.

The Claymores defense continued to apply the pressure with Carolina Panthers allocated tackle Antonio Dingle forcing a fumble after sacking Kubiak deep in Amsterdam territory to end the first quarter.

Scotland opened their account at the start of the second quarter when Tampa Bay allocated running back Aaron Stecker powered the Scots into scoring range before latching on to a 13-yard touchdown pass from Daft.

Kicker Rob Hart converted his 52nd consecutive PAT giving the Claymores a 7-6 lead with 12:26 left in the half.

Criner's men continued to roll on their next possession when Glaswegian receiver Scott Couper latched onto another 13-yard scoring pass from Daft in the corner of the endzone to send the 8,726 Murrayfield crowd wild. Hart was good again with the extra point and Scotland led 14-6 with 8:51 in the half.

QB Kevin Daft had a number of scrambles
Photo: Dave McRitchie
The Admirals offense were finding it tough to find get into the endzone with heavy pressure from the Claymores' Hounds. Ward bit hard inside the two-minute warning sacking Kubiak for an eight-yard loss.

The Dutch did get on the scoreboard though, when Joe Cortez converted a 35-yard field goal with 58 seconds remaining to end the first half at 14-9 in Claymores favour.

The Claymores offense exploded to start the second half with Bucs rusher Stecker darting downfield before latching onto a 39-yard touchdown strike from Daft for the running back's second score.

Daft added to his touchdown pass tally midway through the fourth quarter hitting tight end Brady on a 20-yard scoring link-up. Hart kicked the PAT and the Claymores ran out the clock 28-9 winners.

Claymores silence Waldstadion to go 2-0 in NFL Europe League

QUARTERBACK Kevin Daft led the Scottish Claymores to another memorable victory in the Waldstadion on Saturday night as Jim Criner's team upset defending World Bowl champions Frankfurt Galaxy 17-14 to silence a hostile 32,459 German crowd and go 2-0 in the NFL Europe League.

Duane Hawthorne makes the game-clinching interception
Photo: Dave McRitchie
The Tennessee Titans allocated triggerman threw one touchdown pass to Kansas City Chiefs running back Aaron Stecker before running in a second Scottish score himself on a seven-yard bootleg play late in the fourth quarter.

English kicker Rob Hart redeemed himself following an earlier field goal miss to slot through a 42-yard field goal as time expired in the third quarter. The Claymores fifth victory in six trips to the Waldstadion was sealed late in the fourth quarter when cornerback Duane Hawthorne intercepted Galaxy quarterback Ted White with one minute remaining in the game.

Phil Glover notices the lack of volume from the Galaxy fans
Photo: Dave McRitchie
"This is a huge win for us," said Dallas Cowboys allocate Hawthorne. "Frankfurt Galaxy looked to be the best team coming out of the preseason training camp. We wanted to come in here and make a statement playing in a hostile environment and come out with a win. Thankfully, we were able to do that."

Head coach Criner was delighted with the big win which propels the Claymores to 2-0, dumping pre-season World Bowl favourites Galaxy to 1-1, however, he was disappointed with the way his team played in the first half which finished with the score tied at 7-7.

"The way we played in the first half, if you had told me we'd come away with a 17-14 victory I wouldn't have believed you," said the head coach. "However, we talked to the players at half time about the mistakes we were making and once we adjusted and played our style of football things fell into place for us."

It was a scrappy start to the game for the Scots, however the Claymores defense made their presence felt nullifying Galaxy's first attack when linebacker Matt Finkes picked off a Ted White pass after it was popped out of the grasp of wide receiver Todd Floyd by hard-hitting Claymores defensive backs Kory Blackwell and Hurley Tarver.

Aaron Stecker scores the first Claymores touchdown
Photo: Dave McRitchie
The Claymores couldn't capitalise on the early turnover and gave Frankfurt long periods of possession with their offense failing to find a first quarter rhythm.

Keeping possession of the ball for so long finally paid off for Frankfurt three minutes into the second quarter when White evaded a charging Scots defensive line to fire a seven-yard touchdown pass to Floyd. German kicker Ralph Kleinmann converted his extra point attempt and Galaxy led 7-0 with 12:07 to play in the first half.

It took the Claymores offense until just before half-time to finally engineer a scoring drive. Tampa Bay Buccaneers allocated running back Stecker showed some remarkable elusive running skills when he capped a nine-play, 52-yards scoring assault latching onto a short pass from Daft at Frankfurt's eight yard line. The speedy rusher ghosted through five would-be tacklers and into the endzone for a stunning touchdown with 20 seconds left before the break.

Rob Hart made good with the extra point allowing the Claymores to go into the new half level at 7-7.

The English barefoot kicker had a chance to extend the Scots lead further at the start of the third quarter after Daft had moved the Claymores into scoring range scrambling deep into Frankfurt's territory. But following a penalty, Hart could not convert a 41-yard field goal pulling his attempt wide left.

Sulecio Sanford makes a grab
Photo: Dave McRitchie
Galaxy immediately punished the Scots re-taking the lead on a five-play, 61-yard scoring drive with White lobbing a 15-yard pass into the corner of the endzone to be scooped up by veteran wide out Mario Bailey for the German's second touchdown. Kleinmann converted the extra point and Frankfurt were ahead with 6:38 remaining in the third quarter.

The Claymores weren't about to roll over though and Stecker took up the pursuit bursting downfield on a 32-yard run before Daft took off on a 15-yard scramble in between firing short, telling passes to tight end RICKEY BRADY.

The Tennessee Titans allocated quarterback took charge from the seven yard line scrambling right and into the endzone for the Claymores second touchdown. Hart made amends for his miss converting the extra point to tie the scores up again at 14-14 with 2:42 to play in the third.

The Claymores defense stepped up the pressure on Frankfurt's next possession forcing White into another error - the quarterback throwing a second interception, this time to Titans allocated linebacker PHIL GLOVER.

Rob Hart kicks the 42 yard field goal that put the Scots ahead for the first and only time
Photo: Dave McRitchie
Kicker Hart took advantage of the turnover booting a 42-yard field goal to put the Claymores into the lead for the first time in the game at 17-14 as the third quarter expired.

The teams traded possessions throughout a bruising fourth quarter before Hawthorne ended any Galaxy hope of a comeback picking off quarterback White.

Claymores quarterback Daft, who finished the night with 15 completions from 24 attempts for 132 yards, also contributed 54 yards rushing on nine runs including his seven yard touchdown sprint. Running back Stecker added 72 yards rushing on 17 carries while tight end Brady hauled in four catches for 75 yards.

Those three key performances helped contribute to a total of 243 yards on offense for the Scots while their stingy defense contained the Galaxy attack to just 149 yards.

"I think No.13 looked a little like No.2 tonight," said coach Criner referring to Daft and Claymores 1999 standout quarterback Dameyune Craig. "I think our opponents have to be very concerned about keeping him contained now."

The travelling Scottish support cheers the team following the victory
Photo: Dave McRitchie
Daft said: "It took us a while to get going. We're just glad we finally did. Our defense really did keep us in the game again. We knew what we had to do and thankfully we went out and did it in the second half.

"I think our coaches did a tremendous job. There was some great communications and adjustments from upstairs. We had also prepared really well for this week and thankfully it all paid off."

Criner concluded: "Our success in Frankfurt is down to a number of things - luck perhaps, but also the way we prepare for this game and the way our players respond to the hostile environment and such an enthusiastic crowd.

"I think potentially we can be a very competitive football team, however, it's far to early to talk about anything other than our next game."

In other Saturday NFL Europe League action Amsterdam Admirals upset Rhein Fire 23-20 in overtime.

Claymores blunted by Thunder as Scots go down fighting in Jahnstadion

THE Scottish Claymores went down fighting suffering their first loss of their 2000 NFL Europe League campaign losing 24-20 to Berlin Thunder in a hard-fought and penalty-strewn match in the Jahnstadion on Saturday night.

Aaron Stecker fights for extra yardage
Photo: Dave McRitchie
The Scots are now looking forward to avenging the loss this Sunday at Murrayfield in the return match against ther Berliners who joined the Claymores at the top of the NFL Europe League standings at 2-1 with the win in front of a crowd of 7,913.

Rhein Fire also moved to 2-1 in the NFL Europe League standings after a dramatic 34-27 victory in front of 43,124 fans inside the Rheinstadion in Dusseldorf.

A two-yard touchdown catch by tight end Tremayne Allen from Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Marcus Crandell and a five yard scoring grab from Chicago Bears allocated wide receiver Sulecio Sanford from quarterback Kevin Daft, along with two Rob Hart field goals, were not enough for the Claymores to maintain their undefeated start to the season.

Thunder held on for victory, following three Jaret Holmes field goals - one of 50 yards worth four points and a touchdown from wide receiver Anthony Ladd - after a decisive and controversial touchdown from German defensive back Robert Yancey.

Kevin Daft outruns a defender
Photo: Dave McRitchie
Leading 17-13 the Claymores were driving at Thunder's 23-yard line at the start of the third quarter when running back Ben Snell fumbled the ball which was recovered by Yancey at the 18-yard line. The national defender looked to have been downed by two Claymores players, however, the officials ruled the play alive as Yancey leap to his feet and ran the recovery 80-yards into the endzone for a touchdown.

The Scots fought back with a 25-yard field goal from Hart at the start of the fourth quarter and the defence kept up the pressure with Jacksonville Jaguars allocated safety Blaine McElmurry intercepting Thunder quarterback Scott Milanovich twice. But the Claymores couldn't capitalise with Tampa Bay Buccanneers running back Aaron Stecker running out of time and yards as he slipped nine yards short of the endzone as time expired.

"We have to give a lot of credit to Berlin," said Claymores head coach Jim Criner. "They had their football team well prepared and did an extremely good job. We were beaten tonight by a football team that wanted it more than we did and executed better than we did.

"Against a good football team like Berlin you cannot give up the number of defensive and special teams penalities that we did and turnover the ball as much as we did and still hope to win."

Stecker gets manhandled by the Thunder Defense
Photo: Dave McRitchie
An indisciplined display from the Scots defensive unit saw them rack up the majority of 11 fouls to lose 75 yards. The Claymores offense fumbled the ball a total of three times, giving up possession twice, allowing the Thunder offense to be on the field ten minutes longer than the Scots, even though the Claymores attack outgained Berlin 271 to 263 in total yardage with running back Stecker rushing 15 times for 127 yards and Daft completing 13 of 24 passes for 103 yards and one touchdown.

"The only positive I can take out of this is that we still had a chance to win the ballgame in the fourth quarter, " admitted Criner. "For two weeks in a row we've had more than our fair share of mistakes and penalities. We have got to be a more disciplined football team."

Thunder took the early initiative when kicker Holmes booted a 50-yard field goal four minutes into the game to give Berlin a 4-0 lead. And it wasn't looking good for the Scots on their next possession when quarterback Daft was taken out of the game winded following a late hit by Thunder defensive end Mike Sutton.

The penalty assessed placed the Claymores deep in Thunder territory. Crandell replaced the injured Daft to direct a six-play 37-yard scoring drive, capped with a two-yard touchdown strike to tight end Allen. Hart kicked the PAT and the Claymores led 7-4.

Coach Criner looks on as another opportunity goes by
Photo: Dave McRitchie
Thunder tied up the score at 7-7 at the start of the second quarter when Holmes converted a 33-yard field goal. The see-saw scoring battle continued when, following a 49-yard pass interference penalty in favour of wide out Damon Gibson after he was impeded by cornerback Troy Saunders, Hart kicked a 27-yard field goal to make it 10-7 to the Claymores with 11:47 remaining in the half.

Berlin switched starting quarterback Eric Kresser for Tampa Bay Buccaneers allocated passer Milanovich who made his presence felt directing a 60-yard, seven play scoring drive firing a four-yard touchdown pass to wide out Ladd.

But the Claymores hit back quickly on their next possession when rusher Stecker cut loose 53 yards down the sideline setting the Scots up in great scoring position. Daft then fired a five-yard touchdown pass to Sanford who dived in at the corner of the endzone for the score. Hart made good with the extra point and the Claymores took a 17-14 lead into the break.

Stecker's 127 yards on the ground are a team high this year
Photo: Dave McRitchie
It looked good for the Scots at the start of the second half when safety McElmurry intercepted a deep Kresser pass. Daft then drove the Claymores downfield handing off to Stecker and passing to tight end Rickey Brady, however, the Scots were robbed of possession and a score when Snell fumbled the ball at Berlin's 18-yard line. The ball was recovered by Yancey who looked to be tackled on the ground at the Thunder 20. But the officials waved play-on as Yancey returned the fumble 80-yards for a controversial score. Axel Kruse converted the PAT and Berlin took a 21-17 lead with 11 minutes left in the third quarter.

Berlin were driving with confidence now, but had to settle for a 33-yard Holmes field goal extending their lead to 24-17 with 5:11 remaining in the third, following a sack on Kresser for five-yard loss by defensive end Michael Mason.

The Claymores were given a boost at the end of the third quarter when cornerback Central McClellion picked off an errant Milanovich pass at Berlin's 40-yard line. Hart converted the turnover into points booting a 25-yard field goal to bring the score back to 24-20 with 12:55 remaining in the game.

McElmurry then came up with a huge play for the Scots intercepting quarterback Milanovich for the second time at midfield. Once again though, the Claymores offense couldn't capitalise with Daft sacked for a loss by Thunder end Jonathan Brown before Stecker slipped up at the nine-yard line with the clock running out on the Claymores.

Revenge is sweet for Claymores

Scottish Claymores 42, Berlin Thunder 3
REVENGE was sweet indeed for the Scottish Claymores at Murrayfield on Sunday when they racked up a commanding 42-3 victory over Berlin Thunder to go 3-1 at the top of the NFL Europe League standings while gaining payback for a controversial 24-20 defeat in Berlin the previous week.

Release the Hounds! The Claymores D line was dominant against Berlin
Photo: David McRitchie
A stunning first-half flurry of touchdown strikes - two from Tennessee Titans allocated quarterback Kevin Daft to tight end Rickey Brady, and another from Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Aaron Stecker gave the Scots an insurmountable 21-3 half-time advantage.

The Claymores consolidated in the second half adding a glorious 65-yard touchdown pass from Daft to Damon Gibson in the third quarter and another two scores from game MVP Stecker -a six-yard TD run and a two-yard scoring canter during a fourth-quarter, two touchdown onslaught - to delight the 8,912 at Scotland's national rugby stadium.

LB Phil Glover tackles Thunder running back Brian Shay
Photo: David McRitchie
However, it was Scots hard-hitting defense which took most of the honours in avenging the Claymores only loss of the 2000 NFL Europe League season - the Myrel Moore coached unit hounding and harassing the Thunder offense with four interceptions and five quarterback sacks.

Jacksonville Jaguars allocated safety Blaine McElmurry led the defensive assault intercepting Berlin starting quarterback Eric Kresser on Thunder's first possession. Dallas Cowboys allocated cornerback Duane Hawthorne added insult to injury picking off Kresser on consecutive series to set the Claymores offense up for glory.

Afterwards, Claymores head coach Jim Criner, said: "This was as complete a game as I can remember as the Claymores head coach. We enjoyed a very solid football game, both offensively and defensively."

However, Criner added: "We still have a very long season to go. We must stay focused. We've got a big game coming up next week in Rhein. You win championships on the road and it's going to be an incredibly important game for us."

Aaron Stecker scores one of his three touchdowns
Photo: David McRitchie
Stecker was awarded the game MVP award after notching up 81 yards on 20 carries and three touchdowns. Daft was 9 of 17 for 139 yards passing with three touchdowns while Brady led the receivers with three catches for 56 yards and two touchdowns.

Defensively, Hawthorne made six tackles and two picks for 51 yards with McElmurry, five tackles, and Cleveland Browns allocated linebacker Ryan Taylo, four tackles, also posting interceptions. Tennessee Titans allocated linebacker Phil Glover led the Scots hard-hitting defense with eight stops with former Thunder defensive end Mike Mason posting six tackles and two sacks.

The Claymores were all fired up on Berlin's first possession when McElmurry - who came up with two interceptions against Thunder the previous week - picked off Eric Kresser again at the Scot's five-yard line returning the interception to midfield.

CB Duane Hawthorne makes a touchdown saving tackle on Damon Dunn
Photo: David McRitchie
The Scots capitalised on the turnover six plays later when Aaron Stecker swept into the endzone from one yard out for the Claymores first touchdown. Rob Hart kicked the extra point and the Claymores led 7-0 with 6:33 left in the quarter.

The Claymores cause was boosted further on Berlin's next offensive drive when Duane Hawthorne intercepted Kresser returning the pick to Thunder's 30-yard line.

Two plays later, quarterback Kevin Daft fired a 27-yard touchdown pass to tight end Rickey Brady who made a diving catch in the endzone for the Claymores second score with 3:55 remaining in the first. Hart kicked his 60th consecutive PAT to give the Claymores a 14-0 advantage.

Aaron Stecker celebrates to the crowd from the endzone
Photo: David McRitchie
Hawthorne came up with a second big play on Thunder's next possession intercepting Kresser for a third time at the Claymores 37 ending the first quarter.

Once again, the Claymores took advantage of the mistake - this time at the start of the second quarter when Daft threw up a wobbly pass for Brady to latch on to in the back of the endzone. Hart kicked the extra point and the Claymores took a commanding 21-0 lead with 12 minutes left in the half.

Berlin got on the scoreboard four minutes later when kicker Jaret Holmes booted a 47-yard field goal to make it 21-3.

Thunder had another chance to score just before the break driving down to the Claymores two-yard line, however, the Scots hard-hitting defense hounded Thunder quarterback Scott Milanovich with linebacker Jon Hesse and defensive end Chris Ward breaking up Berlin's desperate fourth down attempt as the first half expired.

Thunder got a break at the start of the second quarter after recovering a punt return fumbled by Damon Gibson. The Germans couldn't capitalise on the turnover when Holmes missed a 24-yard field goal.

Rickey Brady makes the grab in the endzone
Photo: David McRitchie
The Claymores made a swinging cut late in the third quarter when Daft fired a glorious 65-yard touchdown pass in stride to wide receiver Damon Gibson who sliced down the middle of the Thunder defensive secondary to bound into the endzone for the score. Hart kicked the PAT and the Claymores increased their lead to 28-3 with four minutes left in the third quarter.

Cleveland Browns allocated linebacker Ryan Taylor came up with an interception on an errant Milanovich pass deep in the Thunder territory at the start of the fourth quarter allowing quarterback Marcus Crandell to hand off to Stecker at the six yard to pile on another touchdown for the Scots. Hart's PAT made it 35-3 to the Claymores effectively ending the match as a contest with 13 minutes still to play.

Stecker wasn't finished though and piled on the misery for Thunder from three yards out dancing into the endzone for his touchdown hat-trick. Hart was again perfect with the points after to give the Claymores sweet revenge at 42-3.

Thunder head coach Peter Vaas said: "We have to move on from this defeat. Today we got a good thrashing from a good football team. We have to close our eyes, forget about it and start afresh tomorrow."

Drake fires back to haunt Claymores in 22-10 Rheinstadion defeat

Rheinstadion, May 14 - Scottish Claymores 10, Rhein Fire 22
FORMER Scottish Claymores wide receiver KEVIN DRAKE came back to haunt his old team in Dusseldorf's Rheinstadion on Saturday night, fuelling Rhein Fire to a 22-10 victory over the Scottish Claymores in front of 30,537 fans.

Willy Tate fights for extra yardage
Photo: Dave McRitchie
The Claymores could only respond with a stunning 59-yard Aaron Stecker touchdown run and a 29-yard field goal from Rob Hart as Drake, who was not protected by Claymores head coach Jim Criner after the 1999 season only to be drafted by Rhein Fire, made the Scots pay by hauling in two key touchdown passes from quarterback Danny Wuerffel on another night of misery for the Claymores in the hostile Rheinstadion.

The Drake-inspired victory, in which the former Arizona Cardinals wide out caught scoring passes of nine and 55 yards, propelled Fire to a 4-1 record and sole possession of the lead in the NFL Europe League. The loss dropped the Claymores to second spot in the standings at 3-2 alongside Amsterdam Admirals who defeated Berlin Thunder 24-21 in overtime.

Kevin Daft tries to avoid the Rhein pass rush
Photo: Dave McRitchie
In Saturday's other Week Five match, the Barcelona Dragons (2-3) upset Frankfurt Galaxy (1-4) by beating them 42-26 in the Waldstadion.

After downing his old team, the Claymores, jubilant Drake said: "This was bitter-sweet for me. I still have a lot of good thoughts for the Claymores and it was nice to see so many old faces from last season.

"But this was also a big win for us - the Claymores have a great team this year. They are aggressive and play hard every down. We were both out there playing for first place and thankfully my new team came out and played above themselves and we came out on the winning side."

And the former Claymores catcher tipped his new team and his old team to meet in the World Bowl, saying: "This could possibly have been a World Bowl dress rehearsal. Both the Claymores and Rhein seem to be playing the best football at the moment, but there's still a lot that can happen - teams win and lose every week in this League and we'll just have to see how it works out. It would be a great Bowl game though."

National player Tom Tovo registers a sack on Danny Wueffel
Photo: Dave McRitchie
Disappointed Claymores head coach, Jim Criner, said: "It was a tough day for the Claymores. The first half was the hard-fought battle we thought it would be. Towards the end of the second quarter we didn't play quite as well. They took advantage of this and ran with it. We have to compliment the Rhein coaches who did a very good job."

The match started off impressively for the Claymores when Tampa Bay Buccaneers allocated running back Stecker broke through three would-be tacklers at the line of scrimmage to bolt 59 yards through the Fire defense and into the endzone for the Scots first score. Rob Hart kicked the extra point and the Claymores led 7-0 with 11:17 to play in the first.

Stecker would go on to finish on the losing side after piling up an impressive 110 rushing yards on 20 carries. He was also his team's leading receiver with eight catches for 44 yards.

The Claymores defensive line put some heavy pressure on Rhein quarterbacks Wuerffel and Matt Lytle with defensive end Mike Mason and defensive tackle Tom Tovo sacking the passer for big losses. The pressure also resulted in Wuerffel rushing three of his passes which were lucky not to be intercepted by Claymores defenders - linebackers Jon Hesse, Matt Finkes and safety Marcus Ray.

WR Sulecio Sanford tries to break a Fire tackle
Photo: Dave McRitchie
But Rhein fired back just before the break when Wuerffel aired out a 35-yard sideline pass to former Claymore Drake. That set up a 31-yard scoring strike to Dallas Cowboys allocate Jeff Ogden who beat fellow Cowboys allocate and Claymores cornerback Duane Hawthorne to make a tumbling touchdown grab at the back of the endzone.

A botched snap on the extra point gave Fire punter Rodney Williams a moment of glory when he picked up and the ball and ran into the enzone for two points to give Rhein an 8-7 half-time lead.

The Claymores offense was finding it difficult to settle and give quarterback Kevin Daft the protection he needed - Rhein's defensive line bringing their own brand of fire to bear on the Claymores passer.

Drake came back to torment his old team further at the start third quarter when he latched on to a nine-yard touchdown pass from Wuerffel. Manny Burgsmuller kicked the extra point to extend Rhein's lead to 15-7 with 11:12 to play in the period.

Scott Couper is wrapped up after making a catch
Photo: Dave McRitchie
Rusher Stecker powered the Scots into scoring range on their next possession, but, once again, the protection for Daft broke down and the Claymores had to settle for a 29-yard field goal booted by Hart to pull the scores back to 15-10 with 6:55 remaining in the third quarter.

Criner was eager to get his offense moving at the start of the fourth quarter and substituted quarterback Marcus Crandell for Daft.

But the Kansas City Chiefs allocated passer found the going just as tough and, after being sacked for a loss by another former Claymore - defensive end Larry Fitzpatrick - he threw a deep pass intended for Scott Couper which was intercepted by Fire cornerback Stephen Fisher with 11 minutes remaining.

Drake's revenge was complete on Fire's next play from scrimmage when Wuerffel fired a 55-yard touchdown strike to the former Arizona Cardinal to compound the Claymores misery. Burgsmuller's kick was good and the Claymores were looking for a miracle 22-10 down.

But the game was put on ice for the Fire when Stecker uncharacteristically fumbled the ball only to watch it shoot into the hands of Rhein linebacker Jamie Beasley with less than three minutes remaining.

"When we had possession we did not do a good job of finding our receivers and completing the pass," admitted Criner afterwards. "We allowed Rhein to play too many players against the run because we couldn't pass the ball as effectively as we should have in the second and third quarters.

QB Marcus Crandell had the Claymores in position for a late score
Photo: Dave McRitchie
"You also have to give Rhein credit for the way they punted the ball pinning us deep in our own territory, giving us the long field and making life difficult for us. The other key factor in their win was their ability to keep the pressure on our offensive line."

Criner explained his thinking behind the quarterback substitution, saying: "We were not moving the ball effectively and I think we could have done a better job of getting the ball to the open receiver. That's why we made the decision to bring Marcus in.

"I was very pleased with way we began to move the ball in the fourth quarter and with the way Marcus played in a relief role. I was also pleased with the way our receivers got open in the fourth quarter."

Daft finished the game 7 of 14 for 45 yards while back-up Crandell was 14 of 23 passes for 131 yards and two interceptions.

Claymores fall to Galaxy in overtime

Scottish Claymores 30, Frankfurt Galaxy 31 (OT)
DESPITE a valliant fight-back and two DONALD SELLERS touchdowns, the Scottish Claymores went down 30-31 in overtime to defending World Bowl champions Frankfurt Galaxy who claimed the inaugural Orbital Software Cup at Murrayfield Stadium.

Sulecio Sanford is tackled after making a catch, one of his 3 for 43 yards
Photo: Dave McRitchie
With less than four minutes remaining in extra time, Claymores head coach JIM CRINER gambled on a two-point conversion play after a nine-yard touchdown catch from newly-returned wide receiver Sellers.

But Tennessee Titans allocated quarterback KEVIN DAFT had to watch in agony as his endzone pass intended for tight end RICKEY BRADY sailed above his target's head, dropping the Claymores to an agonising one point loss in front of 9,127 fans at Murrayfield.

Afterwards, head coach Criner explained why he and his coaching staff had opted to go for two instead of one, saying: "With the time remaining in overtime, I wasn't confident we'd get the ball back as Frankfurt were moving it so well. We had the receiver open, we just didn't throw a good ball.

Donald Sellers led Claymores receivers with 8 catches
Photo: Dave McRitchie
"The thing I probably regret the most, and it doesn't make a difference now, was not taking the field goal when we went for it earlier in the third quarter on fourth down."

The head coach was referring a fourth-and-one gamble when the Claymores elected to go for the first down, instead of the field goal, down at Frankfurt's 16-yard line.

Criner's decision to go for glory instead of tying the scores in overtime was backed by Galaxy head coach DICK CURL, who said: "Jim made the right decision. If I was him, I would have done the same thing."

The heartbreak loss dropped the Claymores (3-3) into a chasing pack of teams behind NFL Europe League leaders Rhein Fire (4-2) and lifted Galaxy to 1-4. Berlin Thunder (3-3) helped narrow the chasing pack by defeating the Fire 25-21 in overtime on Saturday, while Barcelona Dragons beat Amsterdam Admirals (3-3) 22-16 on Sunday. The Claymores face the 3-3 Dragons at Hampden this Sunday.

Against Galaxy, it was the Claymores fired out of the starting blocks with Daft slinging a 46-yard pass to Damon Gibson landing the Scots at the Galaxy three yard line. Three plays later Daft fired a five-yard touchdown strike to Chicago Bears allocated wide receiver Sulecio Sanford. Rob Hart kicked the extra point and the Claymores led 7-0 with 8:41 remaining in the quarter.

Coach Vince Alcalde chats to QB Kevin Daft during the half time break
Photo: Dave McRitchie
Galaxy hit back immediately when Barnes lobbed a 31-yard scoring pass to wide receiver Corey Thomas capping a five-play, 69 yard scoring drive. Ralph Kleinmann converted the PAT and the scores were tied at 7-7 with 6:12 remaining.

Frankfurt kept up the pressure on the Claymores next possession when defensive end Charles Preston knocked the ball loose from Daft's grasp allowing line colleague Henry Taylor to recover at the Scots 14.

Galaxy capitalised when Barnes connected with tight end Justin Swift who dived into the endzone for an 11-yard touchdown score. Kleinmann's kick was good and Frankfurt took a 14-7 lead with 3:37 remaining in the first.

The Claymores committed a second turnover sin on their next possession when the ball was knocked out of running back Ben Snell's grasp to be recovered by safety Tony Maranto.

Galaxy made the Claymores pay for the error immediately when Barnes unloaded a 33-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Todd Floyd to stun the Scots. Kleinmann's PAT was good and the Claymores were 21-7 behind with two minutes still to play in the first quarter.

Cornerback Duane Hawthorne picked off a league leading fourth pass
Photo: Dave McRitchie
Head coach Jim Criner must have been wondering what he'd done to upset the gridiron gods when, on their next offensive play Aaron Stecker uncharacteristically fumbled the ball which was once again recovered by Taylor at the Claymores 39 to end a disastrous first quarter for the Scots.

Kleinmann kicked a 35-yard field goal to start the second quarter and give the Galaxy a 24-7 advantage with 13:55 remaining in the half.

Like Galaxy, the Claymores were rotating their quarterbacks, and with Marcus Crandell under the gun, the Scots regrouped. The Kansas City Chiefs allocate directed a 13-play, 90-yards scoring drive with big pass gains to returning star Sellers and Sanford.

The drive was capped with a three-yard touchdown run from Stecker, and with Hart's PAT the Claymores were back in the game going into the break 24-14 down.

The Claymores defense made its presence felt at the start of the third quarter with Chris Ward and Antonio Dingle recording sacks on Barnes to kill another Galaxy offensive.

Aaron Stecker had a quiet game by his standards but was hampered by an injury
Photo: Dave McRitchie
The Claymores got within three points of that Galaxy lead at the start of the fourth quarter when Daft threaded an 11-yard touchdown pass to Sellers. Hart's extra point was good and the Claymores were behind 24-21 with 14 minutes remaining in the game.

Galaxy were going in for the kill now and driving down to the Claymores 20-yard line Barnes looked to have time to find a receiver in the endzone. However, Cowboys allocate Hawthorne popped up on the goal-line to make a huge interception in the endzone for the Scots with eight minutes to play in the game.

But despite a 24-yard reception from Sellers, the offense couldn't move beyond midfield and the Claymores were forced to punt to the 19 with six minutes remaining and still three points down. The Germans couldn't move it either and the Scots got the ball back at their own 31-yard line with three minutes to play.

Cue Donald Sellers, who made a stunning 34-yard catch to split the Galaxy defense and set the Claymores up at the Galaxy 19 at the two-minute warning. That gave Rob Hart the chance to put the game into overtime and he did cooly, tying the score at 24-24 with 1:03 remaining.

Galaxy won the vital first possession on the overtime coin toss and struck first with Barnes evading a heavy Claymores rush to find a wide open Mario Bailey in the endzone for a seven-yard touchdown score. Kleinmann kicked the PAT and Frankfurt were back in charge at 31-24.

The Claymores faced a must-score drive now with Kevin Daft back in at quarterback. The Scots got a break when Sellers was impeded as ran down the sideline, setting the Claymores up at Galaxy's 22 following the interference call. Sellers struck gold on the next play as Daft fired a nine-yard touchdown pass to the comeback receiver with 4:47 remaining.

Todd Floyd and Mario Bailey receive the Orbital Software Cup
Photo: Dave McRitchie
With running back Stecker injured, Claymores head coach Criner consulted his assistants and bravely decided to go for two points, but Daft's pass floated out of the back of the endzone and the Claymores fell by one point, 30-31.

"This certainly was a tough one to lose," said the head coach. "I was very proud of the way our team came back. I felt good about our ability to move the ball throughout the game, despite the early turnovers.

"We have to give credit to Frankfurt and Pat Barnes in particular, who did an excellent job of evading the rush."

And Criner concluded: "With the other results this weekend, we're actually no worse off than we were at the beginning of the ball game. We're in exactly the same place - tied for second chasing Rhein Fire who are one game up on the rest of us. The chase is still on ahead of us. It's just a case of who's going to be the best team in the remaining games this season."

Complete Claymores End Hampden Hoodoo By Slaying Dragons

Scottish Claymores 28, Barcelona Dragons 0
THE Scottish Claymores got back to winning ways and finally buried their Hampden Hoodoo at the National Stadium with an important 28-0 shut-out victory over the Barcelona Dragons to register their first win in Glasgow and keep the Jim Criner coached side (4-3) on course for a return to the World Bowl.

Dogs of War Noel Scarlett and Michael Mason celebrate another sack
Photo: Dave McRitchie
A stifling performance from the Claymores defense, led by linebacker Jon Hesse and defensive end Mike Mason, allowed the Scots offense, directed jointly by quarterbacks Kevin Daft and Marcus Crandell, to record the shut-out victory over the Dragons and push the Scots to a 4-3 second place in the NFL Europe League standings.

It was arguably the best showing from a Claymores defense ever which set a new club record of NINE quarterback sacks while also limiting Barcelona's offense to just 84 rushing yards.

The Scots offense scored in all quarters of the game, with receivers Donald Sellers, Sulecio Sanford, local hero Scott Couper - who grew up in nearby Simshill, Glasgow - and running back Aaron Stecker, all grabbing touchdowns.

Siran Stacy is formally inducted into the Claymores Hall of Fame by GM Will Wilson
Photo: Dave McRitchie
The complete performance by the offense and defense added up to a banner day for the Claymores which also saw World Bowl-winning running back Siran Stacy back in Scotland to be formally inducted to the club's Hall of Fame during the half-time break.

Head coach Jim Criner praised his side's bounce back from two defeats, saying: "That's the most complete football game we've played this season. I'm really pleased for our players - they are the guys who have to go through all the hard work and recover from a tough loss like last week.

"That's the personality of this football team though. The way they went about their business in practice this week was unbelievable. It was the kind of effort that will keep us in this Championship race. This was a tremendous performance from our entire team."

The win was a vital one for the Claymores following a heartbreaking 31-30 overtime loss to Frankfurt Galaxy at Murrayfield last Sunday. It keeps them in touch with the NFL Europe League-leaders Rhein Fire who came back from a 20-0 deficit to defeat Berlin Thunder 28-27 on Saturday night.

Aaron Stecker runs into the end zone for a Claymores TD
Photo: Dave McRitchie
The whitewash of Barcelona was their first since 1992 and the first shut-out enjoyed by the Claymores since a 20-0 victory over Frankfurt Galaxy during their 1996 World Bowl-winning season.

The teams traded early possessions and it wasn't until the start of the second quarter when either side had a chance to put some points on the board.

That opportunity came when former Barcelona FC goalkeeper Jesus Angoy attempted a 41-yard field goal midway through the first quarter, but his kick fell short and the stalemate continued.

The Claymores broke the deadlock when Kansas City Chiefs allocated quarterback Crandell came on at the start of the second quarter to ignite the Scots offense by directing a seven-play, 41-yard scoring drive, capped with a 15-yard touchdown strike to Chicago Bears allocated wide out Sanford. Rob Hart kicked the PAT and the Claymores led 7-0 with 8:04 to play in the half.

Both teams again struggled to move the ball trading possessions again, but linebacker Jon Hesse was ready making a huge play for the Claymores with 46 seconds left in the half, picking off an errant Tony Graziani pass and returning it to the Dragons 11 yard line.

Three seconds later, Crandell fired an endzone pass that was caught by a diving Donald Sellers for the Scots second score. Hart converted the extra point and the Claymores took a 14-0 lead into the break.

Sulecio Sanford opens the scoring with a spectacular diving grab from Marcus Crandell
Photo: Dave McRitchie
Claymores legendary running back Stacy was honoured with a special presentation at half-time - general manager Will Wilson formally inducting the famous No.27 into the Claymores Hall of Fame to the delight of the 8,827 fans attending.

Stacy's presence must have inspired the Claymores of 2000 going into the third quarter with the defense coming up with another huge play midway through the period. Dragons quarterback Corey Sauter was sacked by Mason who forced a fumble which was recovered at the Barcelona 38-yard line by Cleveland Browns allocated linebacker Ryan Taylor.

Daft moved the Claymores into scoring range with a 20-yard pass to tight end Willy Tate before running back Aaron Stecker dived down to the Dragons goalline. Stecker finished off the five play, 38-yard scoring drive himself jumping over the pile and into the endzone for the Claymores third touchdown. Hart hit the PAT and the Claymores took a 21-0 lead at the end of the third quarter.

Hometown hero Scott Couper caught 3 passes, including a 9 yard TD
Photo: Dave McRitchie
The crowd roared their approval at the start of the fourth quarter when Glaswegian wide out Scott Couper latched on to a nine-yard Crandell pass in the endzone for his second touchdown of the season. Hart added the extra point and the Claymores went into an insurmountable 28-0 lead.

Kory Blackwell continued to pile misery on the Dragons on their next possession intercepting Graziani at midfield. But the Claymores couldn't capiltalise with Hart missing on a 42-yard field goal attempt with four minutes remaining.

Jon Hesse added another sack late the fourth while Hawthorne broke up a vital fourth down pass from Graziani to finish the contest.

Hesse said: "Our defense was real focused today. We came out and took care of business."

Claymores' six sinks Admirals

Olympisch Stadion, Amsterdam
Scottish Claymores 42, Amsterdam Admirals 10
THE Scottish Claymores claimed the inside track on the road to World Bowl 2000 with a record-breaking 42-10 win over the Amsterdam Admirals at the Olympisch Stadion in the Dutch capital on Saturday night.

Scott Couper celebrates scoring the opening touchdown
Photo: Dave McRitchie
The victory - the second-biggest in Claymores' history - moved the Jim Criner coached side into prime position to return to the World Bowl they last won in 1996, and a 5-3 standing in the NFL Europe League.

Touchdowns from six different players - including one from Tampa Bay Buccaneers allocated running back Aaron Stecker, a stunning 95-yard return for touchdown from Chicago Bears allocated wide receiver Sulecio Sanford, a seven-yard scramble from Kansas City Chiefs allocated quarterback Marcus Crandell and scores for three more wide outs - Glasgow's Scott Couper, Donald Sellers and Damon Gibson - combined with a crushing defensive display to power the Scots to one of their most important victories in their six-year history.

Head coach Jim Criner praised his team, and said: "That was one of our best ever performances. It rivalled our 20-0 win at Frankfurt during the 1996 season that helped us clinch hosting the World Bowl.

Aaron Stecker fights for extra yardage
Photo: Dave McRitchie
"We challenged our players coming into Amsterdam. We knew it would be a hard-fought game. They rose to the challenge. In all honesty though, I didn't expect us to get up on top as quickly as we did. Things just worked out extremely well for us."

The Scots got off to a stunning start when, on the Admirals third play, quarterback Ron Powlus' pass was tipped by defensive tackle Antonio Dingle and intercepted by linebacker Jon Hesse who returned it to the Dutch five yard line.

Glasgow's Scott Couper made perhaps the easiest catch of his six-year professional career when, left unmarked, he collected a five-yard scoring pass from Tennessee Titans allocated quarterback Kevin Daft. Rob Hart kicked the extra point and the Claymores took a 7-0 lead with two-and-a-half minutes gone.

The Claymores kept the early momentum rolling their way on their next possession with big gains recorded by Stecker and tight end Tremayne Allen. Donald Sellers capped a 12-play scoring drive hauling in a 15-yard pass from Daft for his fourth touchdown of the season. Hart was again good with the extra point and the Scots held a 14-0 lead with five minutes to play in the opening period.

TE Tremayne Allen makes a catch against Amsterdam
Photo: Dave McRitchie
The Claymores defense continued to pressure the Dutch attack at the start of the second quarter with another Powlus pass tipped at the line, this time intercepted by Jacksonville Jaguars allocated safety Blaine McElmurry at the Admirals 21 to set the Scots up in scoring range.

Quarterback Crandell, again rotating with Daft per quarter, linked up with tight end Allen who carried tacklers and the Scots down to the Admirals five. Crandell then took charge himself, scrambling into the endzone around the left side of his line for the Claymores third touchdown two minutes into the second quarter. Hart converted the PAT and the Scots led 21-0.

The Admirals got on the scoreboard seven minutes later when Frank Biancamano kicked a 29-yard field goal to make it 21-3. But the Scots struck back immediately with a killer blow - Chicago Bears allocated wide receiver Sulecio Sanford slicing through coverage to return the restart kick a heart-stopping 95 yards for another Claymores touchdown. Hart was good again with the PAT and Criner's men were in charge 28-3 with four minutes left in the half.

Siran Stacy returns to the Claymores sideline
Photo: Dave McRitchie
Crandell piled on the misery for the Dutch defense firing a 37-yard pass to Damon Gibson inside the two minute warning, before finding the wide receiver again in the endzone on a 26-yard scoring strike to take the Claymores into the break 35-3 in front.

The half-time tally set a new NFL Europe League points margin record - the 32-point difference eclipsing the Claymores own record of 28 set in Berlin in Week 2 of the 1999 season - and equalled the record for most points scored in a first half of a game also set by the Claymores in Berlin last year.

Aaron Stecker kept stacking up the yards and points at the start of the third quarter powering deep into Admirals territory on a 39-yard run before turning a short swing pass from Daft into an eight-yard touchdown score diving into the endzone six minutes into the new half. Hart maintained his perfect point after record and pushed the Claymores further in front at 42-3 with 9:43 remaining in the third.

The Admirals got a consolation score with three minutes to play in the third quarter after Daft saw his streak of 147 passes without an interception end after being picked off by Amsterdam cornerback Rico Clark who took the ball back 29 yards for a touchdown. Biancamano added the extra point to make it 42-10.

Aaron Stecker gets tackled after making positive yardage
Photo: Dave McRitchie
The Claymores had the luxury of running out the clock in the fourth quarter - World Bowl '96 hero Siran Stacy marking his return from retirement wearing his new No.28 with six carries for 12 yards.

Claymores current No.27, Stecker, finished the game with 18 carries for 94 yards adding two catches for 15 yards including his eight-yard score. Gibson led the receiving corps with four catches for 91 yards and one touchdown as the Scots offense racked up 387 yards to Amsterdam's 199.

Defensively the Claymores dominated with sacks from Mike Mason and Hurley Tarver as well as the two key interceptions from McElmurry and Hesse, who led the defense for the second week running with a six tackle, two pass defense, one interception performance.

Jim Criner's side next face Rhein Fire at Hampden Park this Saturday, June 10 before ending the regular season with a trip to Spain to take on the Barcelona Dragons on June 17. World Bowl 2000 will take place in Frankfurt's Waldstadion on Sunday, June 25. In other NFL Europe League weekend action Barcelona Dragons defeated Berlin Thunder 22-9 in the Jahn Stadion, Berlin.

Claymores' World Bowl bound

Scottish Claymores 31, Rhein Fire 24
THE Scottish Claymores are going back to the World Bowl.

Jabbar Threats sacks Fire QB Danny Wuerfell
Photo: Dave McRitchie
Barring a Barcelona miracle that is, where the Dragons would have to overcome a 126-points deficit and claim two victories in their last two games - including a win over the Scots in the Montjuic Stadium next Saturday.

Jim Criner's side all but booked their tickets to the Waldstadion in Frankfurt on June 25 in front of a crowd of 10,126 at Hampden on Saturday with a thrilling and memorable 31-24 victory over Dusseldorf's Rhein Fire - the team the Scots will most likely face in NFL Europe League's Championship Final.

However, the Scots had to wait until the last 23 seconds of the match to secure victory over the battling Fire, with running back Aaron Stecker diving into the endzone from three yards to grab victory.

Stecker's score broke a 24-24 deadlock in the dying seconds after the Tampa bay Buccaneers allocate had been set up for glory after Chicago Bears allocated wide out Sulecio Sanford recorded a stunning 80-yard punt return.

Ben Snell runs in for a Claymores TD
Photo: Dave McRitchie
But it was the Claymores defense - and the self-styled Hounds of Scotland defensive line - who were the heroes of the day tying a team record for sacks with NINE quarterback takedowns to snuff out the Fire attack.

Delighted Claymores head coach JIM CRINER, said: "This was a big game and I'm very proud of our players in the way that they rallied back. This was a tremendous effort by our team and the kind of an effort that you would expect out of a championship-calibre team.

"We are capable of being one of the two teams in the big game. Nothing is definite, but I would be willing to say that Barcelona couldn't beat us by 126 points.

"We made some mistakes on offense and gave Rhein some points, however, defensively we were playing too well to let this one get away from us."

Duane Hawthorne breaks up a pass intended for Kendrick Nord
Photo: Dave McRitchie
The Claymores got on the scoreboard first when Kevin Daft linked up with Donald Sellers on a five-yard touchdown pass finding the receiver in the back corner of the endzone for his fifth score of the season. Rob Hart kicked the PAT and the Claymores took a 7-0 lead with 2:45 remaining in the first quarter.

Rhein fired back at the start of the second quarter with the help of some holding calls and a 13-yard touchdown pass from Danny Weurffel to former Claymores wide out Kevin Drake.

Manny Burgemuller's extra point kick bobbled on the upright but dropped over to tie the scores at 7-7.

The Claymores' defense held on Rhein's next possession with Antonio Dingle sacking quarterback Matt Lytle deep in Fire territory.

Working a short field after the punt, Crandell directed a three-play scoring drive with Donald Sellers and Aaron Stecker adding big gains before the Kansas City Chiefs allocated quarterback dumped a short two-yard touchdown pass to running back Snell. Hart again kicked the PAT and with 7:35 remaining in the half the Claymores were back in front 14-7.

The Hounds of the Claymores defensive line were off the leash now and former Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Weurffel was knocked out of the game sacked by Jabbar Threats.

Jabbar Threats gets Matt Lytle in his sights
Photo: Dave McRitchie
Lytle had to return from the trainer's table but fared no better in front of the on-coming rush when he tasted Hampden turf after being sacked by first Rasheed Simmons and then Mike Mason, forcing Rhein to punt.

The Claymores couldn't capitlaise though when Crandell was intercepted by Fire linebacker Jamie Baisley. The Scots defense kept up the pressure after the turnover with Tom Tovo registering on the sack-o-meter downing Weurffel ato finish the half 14-7.

Rhein fired first at the start of the third quarter when a recovered Wuerffel led his offense downfield before scrambling into the endzone from 10 yards out for the touchdown.

The German's continued to have problems with their extra point attempt - this time a high snap resulted in holder Rodney Williams attempting to run for two. Unlike his previous try in Dusseldorf he was stopped this time by Marcus Ray and Rhein were still one point behind at 13-14.

The Claymores got a huge break two minutes later when Chris Ward knocked the ball lose from Weurffel's grasp to be recovered by linebacker Jon Hesse at midfield.

Sulecio Sanford's 80 yard punt return set up the game winning score
Photo: Dave McRitchie
Again, the offense couldn't move the ball but it wasn't too long before the Claymores got the ball back again when Jabbar Threats blocked a Williams punt, recovered at Rhein's 13 yard line by safety Chris Bayne.

The offense did take advantage this time with Stecker softening up the Fire defense before Daft shot a seven-yard touchdown strike to tight end Rickey Brady. Hart was good again with the PAT and the Claymores took a 21-13 lead with 4:40 to play in the third.

Wide out Damon Gibson got in on the action on the restart kick forcing a fumble and recovering the ball for the Claymores. Again the offense faltered, but the defense stepped up again with Bayne knocking the ball loose after Kendrick Nord caught it with Threats making another big play for the Scots recvering the ball at Rhein's eight to end the third quarter.

The Claymores opted for a 23-yard field goal to start the fourth quarter which English kicker Rob Hart slotted through perfectly to move the Scots into a 24-13 lead.

Rhein weren't dead though and Weurffel got his team back in the game firing a 17-yard touchdown pass to Drake before linking up with Kendrick Nord on a two-point conversion pass to make it 21-24 with ten minutes still remaining in the fourth quarter.

Aaron Stecker squeezes into the endzone for the winning TD
Photo: Dave McRitchie
Rhein got a break on their next series when, after the Claymores defense held them, Damon Gibson fumbled his punt return handing possession back to Fire at the Claymores 33.

Former Claymores kicker Peter Elezovic was sent on to hit a 38-yard field goal which he did to tie the scores at 24-24 with four minutes remaining.

It was nerve jangling stuff as the Claymores tried to move the ball and run out the clock, but the attack was stifled by Rhein at their 30-yard line and the Scots had to settle for a 43-yard field goal attempt. However, Hart's kick drifted wide left and Rhein had a chane to steal the game with 1:38 remaining.

Cue the Hounds of Scotland with Noel Scarlett and Simmons combining to stop Weurffel and Rhein in their tracks forcing Fire to punt.

Sulecio Sanford made the play of the day returning Williams punt 80 yards to Rhein's one yard line. Two plays later Stecker converted with a three-yard touchdown run, Hart making amends with the extra point to give the Claymores a stunning 31-24 victory.

Claymores fight-back falls short in Montjuic

Scottish Claymores 25, Barcelona Dragons 28
THE World Bowl-bound Scottish Claymores will have to bounce back from defeat to win their second NFL Europe League Championship in Frankfurt next Sunday after rounding off the regular season with a narrow 28-25 loss to the Barcelona Dragons at the Estadi Olimpic de Montjuic.

Marcus Crandell celebrates his 2 yard touchdown run
Photo: Sean Ryan
Touchdowns from wide receiver Damon Gibson, tight end Tremayne Allen and quarterback Marcus Crandell as well as a 37-yard field from Rob Hart were not enough to slay the Dragons as former Claymores running back Jesse Haynes came back to haunt his old team with two touchdowns on another night of disappointment for the Scots in Catalonia. The Claymores have never won in the Montjuic and this sixth failure meant they finished the 2000 season with a 6-4 standing.

Head coach Jim Criner must now lift his squad in time for next Sunday's World Bowl in Frankfurt's Waldstadion where the Claymroes will face Rhein Fire.

"We can make a million excuses why we played so poorly, but I'm not going to - we just played very badly," said Criner.

"This one came as a bit of surprise for me. We had practised well all week and I thought we were in good shape, but after a great start we played very flat on defense and shot ourselves in the foot with a number of needless penalties."

With the race to the World Bowl already finalised last week, the result was largely a meaningless one save for the crucial momentum going into next weekend's final.

"As far as our preparations for the World Bowl go, I don't think this will affect the way we get ready for next Sunday's game negatively," said coach Criner. "If anything this could be a positive for us. If our players have the character that I think they have then we will bounce back from this.

Aaron Stecker is brought down by a number of Dragons defenders
Photo: Sean Ryan
"We made many mistakes and hopefully we can just get this one out of our system and get ready to play in next week's game in the way that befits a World Bowl contender."

The Claymores enjoyed a stunning start to the game as Kevin Daft spotted an unmarked Gibson streaking down the left sideline on the Claymores' first offensive play. The Tennessee Titans allocated quarterback wasted no time in firing a 52-yard touchdown pass and the Claymores were ahead with just nine seconds gone. Rob Hart kicked the PAT for an early 7-0 Scots lead.

However, the Claymores failed to maintain their momentum when Daft was sacked by Mark Menga on the Scots next possession - the linebacker recovering the quarterback's fumble to set the Dragons up in Scottish territory.

Ex-Claymore Haynes turned the turnover into points making his old team pay on a 22-yard tackle-breaking touchdown run. Former FC Barcelona goalkeeper Jesus Angoy was successful with his extra point and the game was tied at 7-7 with six minutes to play in the first quarter.

The Scots fired back at the start of the second quarter with running back Aaron Stecker - chasing Siran Stacy's single season club rushing record of 785 yards - running the Scots into scoring range.

However, the Claymores were denied a touchdown when the officials ruled wide receiver Donald Sellers out of bounds when he looked to have downed both feet in the endzone on a 14-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Marcus Crandell.

The Claymores had to settle for a 25-yard field goal attempt, but Hart's kick was blocked and the Dragons took over at their own 18. And just eight plays later Barca were in the Scots endzone again, with League-leading wide receiver Jermaine Copeland latching on to a four yard touchdown pass from Atlanta Falcons allocated quarterback Tony Graziani Angoy was good again with the PAT and the Dragons took a 14-7 lead into the locker room at half-time.

It took ten minutes into the third quarter before the Claymores finally found their groove again with Sulecio Sanford electrifying the Scots offense returning a Dragons punt to Barcelona's 30 yard line. Three plays later, Daft executed a perfect playaction and fired a ten-yard touchdown pass to H-back Tremayne Allen for the Claymores second endzone score. Hart converted the extra point and the scores were tied at 14-14 with 5:40 to go in the period.

Stecker came up just 11 yards short of Siran Stacy's club rushing record
Photo: Sean Ryan
Another big punt return - this time from Damon Gibson - set the Scots up at the Dragons 32 yard line, but the offense failed to find the endzone and the Claymores had to settle for a 37-yard field goal attempt from Hart which, this time, went off without incident to give the Claymores a narrow 17-14 with 1:23 to play in the third.

The Dragons weren't dead though and hit back at the start of the fourth quarter when Copeland beat Duane Hawthorne in the endzone to latch on to a 18-yard touchdown pass from Graziani. Angoy kicked the PAT and Barcelona were back in front at 21-17 with 14:55 to play in the game.

The Dragons moved into a 28-17 lead nine minutes later when Haynes came back to haunt his old team diving into the endzone from one yard out. Angoy was good against with the PAT and the Claymores were 11 points adrift with six minutes left in the game.

Cue Stecker to power the Scots into scoring range and, after it looked as if Crandell had found Sellers in the endzone again only to be overruled by the officials as incomplete, the quarterback booted into the score zone himself for a two-yard TD. The Chiefs passer took the ball into the endzone again with a two-point conversion run to pull the Claymores back to 28-25 with 2:02 to play.

With the game on the line, Hart booted an on-side kick and became the hero diving on the loose ball himself to give the Scots possession and hope at their own 33. But four plays later the fight back was over when Dragons defensive end Chadric Darby sacked Crandell for a loss to effectively end the contest with Barcelona ending the regular season 28-25 winners.

World Bowl disappointment for Claymores

So it wasn't to be. The Scottish Claymores come away second best in the 2000 World Bowl losing in the final seconds to a Pepe Pearson touchdown run from 1 yard.

Aaron Stecker on his way to the longest touchdown run in World Bowl history
Photo: Dave McRitchie
Rhein opened the scoring after 5 minutes with a 21 yard Manny Burgsmuller field goal after the Scottish defense held tight at the 4 yard line.

The Claymores marched straight back up the field on their next drive which saw Aaron Stecker run right for 9 yards, Kevin Daft hit H-back Willy Tate for 30 yards and Stecker finish the drive off with a 36 yard run - the second longest run in World Bowl history. Rob Hart kicked the 3 play, 75 yard drive with the PAT to give the Claymores a 7-3 lead.

Scotland extended their lead with a 32 yard field goal mid way through the second quarter following Peter Elezovic's missed field goal attempt from 43 yards which fell short. Burgsmuller redeemed himself by hitting a 23 yarder later in the second quarter to make the halftime score 10-6

Rob Hart attempts a 40 yard field goal in the final seconds
Photo: Dave McRitchie
The third quarter went scoreless as both defenses excelled holding the opposing offenses to very little positive gain.

In the fourth quarter the tension increased as the end of the game approached with less than a touchdown between the sides. Again and again, Rhein pounded on the door and again the Claymores D held tight. Inside the two minute warning Fire drove deep into the Claymores 10 on a drive which RB Pepe Pearson finished off with a 1 yard plunge. Burgsmuller added the PAT for a 3 point Fire lead.

Scotland came right back with Daft hitting Stecker for 9 yards, Sellers for 13 and again for 12 and Sanford for 17 to setup a field goal attempt with just 8 seconds remaining.

On comes Rob Hart to take a kick no one wants to go near. The snap comes back, the kick is up but sails wide left leaving the Fire to celebrate their second World Bowl victory.

Aaron Stecker was announced as the MVP of the World Bowl thanks to his 92 yards rushing including a 36 yard touchdown run, the longest in World Bowl history.