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Patriots in Europe: World Bowl hunt heats up

The Scottish Claymores and their five Patriots allocates kept themselves in the thick of the World Bowl race with a convincing 33-0 victory over the Rhein Fire on Sunday. Yet again, all five Patriots made their presence felt and provided valuable contributions towards recording the first shutout of the season in Europe. Fullback Michael Malan helped lead the way for another strong rushing game, running the ball himself three times for 29 yards and providing blocking support for NFL Europe's top ground game (1,137 yards, 5.9 yards per carry on the season). Malan and tight end Rod Trafford each had 10-yard catches, while quarterback Shane Stafford continued to make the most of his opportunities, completing 4-of-6 passes for 81 yards, including a 33-yard touchdown bomb. Wide receiver Scott McCready added a four-yard catch, while on the defensive side of the ball, cornerback Dyshod Carter made three solo tackles.

The Claymores jumped out of the gate with a bang, recording a safety on Rhein's first possession. On the ensuing Claymores possession, Trafford snared a 10-yard grab on third-and-seven to keep Scotland on the march. Malan rattled off a 13-yard run up the middle on the next play, setting up a 23-yard touchdown pass one play later that gave the Claymores a 9-0 lead. A defensive score on an end zone fumble recovery and a field goal gave the Claymores a commanding 19-0 lead at the intermission. Stafford, who played his usual role as the second quarter signal caller, returned for an encore in the fourth quarter and helped Scotland put the outcome of the game beyond doubt. With five minutes remaining, Stafford hooked up with wideout Anthony Bright for a 33-yard score, his fourth touchdown toss of the season.

While a loss would have kept the Claymores on the outside of the World Bowl race, they are now just one game out of second place with three games to go. The league's top two teams will face off in World Bowl XI on Saturday, June 14 at the Claymores' home stadium, Hampden Park in Glasgow. The Claymores continue their quest this weekend against the Amsterdam Admirals. The game can be seen on Fox Sports Net at 1:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday, May 24.

In other Patriots news from across the pond, Rhein Fire linebacker Courtney Ledyard and Frankfurt Galaxy center Mike Clare were both place on injured reserve last week. Ledyard had been inactive with a shoulder injury since Week Two, while Clare injured his hand in Week Four and has not played since. Wide receiver T.C. Taylor did not play for Frankfurt.

NFLE notes and numbers

The four Patriots allocates on the Claymores offense have contributed to the league's highest scoring unit. Scotland has scored 196 points in seven games, 39 more points then the next most explosive team, the Berlin Thunder. … McCready has 19 receptions for 310 yards and is tied for a team high with three touchdowns in seven starts. Each of his scores came from the arm of Stafford. His receiving yardage total ranks seventh in the league. … Stafford has completed 29-of-48 passes for 365 yards and four touchdowns with six interceptions in five games of reserve action. … Malan has totaled 16 receptions for 139 yards and 10 rushes for 73 yards in seven starts at fullback. … Trafford has been consistent with eight receptions for 89 yards in seven games, including six starts. … Carter has started three-of-seven games played at corner. He's totaled 21 tackles and two passes defensed. … After the weekend's action the NFLE standings remain tight. Barcleona sits atop the league with a 5-2 record, one game ahead of 4-3 Frankfurt and Rhein. Amsterdam and Scotland are still in the race for the World Bowl with 3-4 records, while Berlin sits in the league's basement at 2-5.

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