Division 1 Champions 2018

Falcons 36: Kent Exiles 29

Leicester Falcons won their first ever Division 1 title with a thrilling 36-29 victory over Kent Exiles at the Britbowl festival in Leeds. The Falcons leaned on running back Marcus Francis, who scored a hattrick, and quarterback Joe Brammer took MVP honours. (Pictures)

The match began terribly for the Falcons with Marcus Francis fumbling on the opening posession and Exiles linebacker Miguel Pascal-Johnson scooped up the ball to return a short distance for the touchdown. Francis made amends on the subsequent posession by capping off a long drive with a one-yard touchdown. While the Exiles immediately hit back through Danny Whitfield, the Falcons blocked the Kent conversion and Joel Gregoire returned the ball the full length of the field for two points, keeping Leicester within a score of the lead. The teams traded punts before a bit of magic from quarterback Joe Brammer gave the Falcons the lead for the first time, somehow escaping a sack before throwing deep to Francis for a 30 yard touchdown. Yet again, Kent hit back, this time on the ground through running back Dan Excell, leaving the Falcons time for one final drive of the half. Brammer was perfect on this drive, finding first Tom Jarrett then Alex Preece for the long touchdown, and giving the Falcons a slender three point lead at the half.

Following a lengthy injury stoppage at the start of the second half Leicester then extended their lead, Brammer keeping the himself and running in from two yards for the touchdown. The Exiles put together a long drive in response but fumbled and GB international Jamaal Fredricks came up with the ball. The Falcons offence stuttered however and couldn’t get anything going on their next two drives, before a disastrous two minutes where offensive tackle Vikram Brant was ejected for a late hit quickly followed by a wild snap which was downed in the end zone for a safety to Kent. The defence held firm however, and when Whitfield juggled a fourth down pass out of bounds without completing the catch for the Exiles it looked like momentum was shifting back towards the Falcons. On the subsequent drive Leicester gambled on fourth down and it paid off with a completion to Preece, before Francis completed his hattrick from short yardage. The Exiles hit back with a late score from quarterback James Cook but time was running out, and when Jarrod Gabbidon pounced on Kent’s onside kick attempt the game was over.

“I am delighted with the performance this season going unbeaten and taking the division title” said General Manager Guy Kersey. “The team fought hard and it paid off. We are very proud to be part of Leicester’s many sporting success stories and we aim to keep building on it next year”.