Falcons 18 : Nighthawks 23
Leicester Falcons fell to their first home league defeat in four years on Sunday at TMDP Park. The Falcons matched their established opponents for much of the game but never quite caught up after a poor start.
A nervy beginning saw both teams turn the ball over on their opening drives, with an interception from the Falcons and the Nighthawks going four and out at the edge of the red zone. Merseyside were first to make the breakthrough however with a long tackle-breaking run from running back Martin Murphy which was followed by quarterback Harry Routledge going over from short yardage. The Falcons were unable to get anything going, not helped by multiple penalties, and the Nighthawks quickly doubled their lead thanks to Laurent Tshimanga, who again found success by running straight up the middle. A third followed just after the teams changed ends for the second quarter, with Routledge utilising an option run the Falcons defence struggled to deal with. Bad news continued to be piled on the Falcons when starting running back Marcus Francis left the game with an injury, with the offence turning to Lewis Hyde (34 pictured right), out of Nottingham Trent University, in his first appearance. He quickly scored the Falcons first touchdown, on a sweep play to the sideline for a 30 yard score. The Falcons made a change at quarterback, bringing in Brad Thompson. Thompson, a former GB International, begin his career in Leicester before finding success elsewhere, and has recently been tempted out of retirement. He added his first touchdown pass just before the half, hitting Hyde on fourth down for a 25 yard touchdown pass.
The Falcons began the second half brightly, recovering their own onside kick, but quickly fumbled possession away on the drive. Both teams were fairly evenly matched in the second half, with penalties and turnovers plaguing both sides, with two fumbles apiece in the third quarter. The momentum shifted the Nighthawks’ way following a wild punt snap that was downed in the end zone for a safety, and even though the Falcons pulled a score back late with Thompson completing to Natal Melero, it wasn’t enough.
The Falcons now face a tough trip to Manchester Titans next week. Manchester made the playoffs last season and the Falcons will need to iron out their mistakes to compete.