Leicester Falcons won their second consecutive divisional title
on Sunday after a solid 35-0 win against Nottingham Caesars at Harvey
Hadden Stadium. The win puts the Falcons in prime position for the
Division 1 playoffs, with a place in the Premier League at stake.
As has happened so often this season, the defence led the way.
Cornerback Dom Olney intercepted Nottingham’s first
pass attempt of the afternoon and, although Leicester fumbled giving
the ball straight back to the Caesars, the defence held Nottingham
to three-and-out. On the next drive quarterback Troy Lee
Jackson threw a deep pass attempt to Ashton Clarke-Jackman,
who was unfairly contacted in the end zone. The subsequent penalty
put the ball on the one-yard line and running back Nat Eaves
plunged over the goal line for the first score of the day. On the
Caesars’ next possession Olney again came up with
the interception, and Jackson wasted no time in
hitting receiver Kyren Watts for a 36 yard touchdown
pass and a 14-0 lead.
Nottingham’s offence was given no space to manoeuvre, defensive
end Pete Sandham making it into the backfield to
sack quarterback Dan Johnson on two occasions,
and Bill Hefford making the Falcons’ third interception.
Midway through the second quarter the Falcons were gifted another
score after Nottingham failed to down their own punt. With defenders
looking away, having either assumed the ball had been downed or
gone out of bounds, return man Taylor Brown picked
up the ball and ran through a stationary Caesars defence for a 55
yard punt return touchdown making the score 21-0. Before the half
Nat Eaves added his second touchdown, this time from 10
yards, and the Falcons looked unassailable at the halftime interval.
As the second half began fullback Adam Gumbs took
advantage of generous space to rip off a 60 yard run, being caught
agonisingly just five yards from the goal line. On the next play
quarterback AJ Mepstead threw to Clarke-Jackman,
who worked hard to stay in bounds and stretch for the goal line,
just getting the ball inside the pylon for the Falcons’ fifth touchdown.
The Caesars switched quarterbacks but still couldn’t make anything
happen on offence, Falcons defensive lineman Rob Rees
picking up a brace of sacks in the second half. As had happened
in the previous meeting between the teams, the second half began
to get indisciplined, with the Falcons racking up a few too many
penalty yards. On a punt return Jack Verling was
tackled out of bounds into the Nottingham sideline and the resulting
scuffle led to Verling’s ejection for fighting, however the incident
shouldn’t sour what was an impressive victory for the Falcons.
The win confirms the Falcons are unassailable at the top of the
NFC1 South with a game remaining, an impressive feat considering
the team were promoted from division 2 this season. Leicester go
into their final game of the season fighting for the number 1 seed
in the playoffs, needing a win and to concede less than 23 points.
Their opponents will be Birmingham Bulls, who need a win to escape
relegation. Kick off this coming Sunday is 3pm at Leicester Road