2 July 2017
Leicester Falcons overcame a first half scare to beat Birmingham Bulls 24-6 at Erin Go Bragh, Birmingham on Sunday. After trailing at halftime the Falcons scored three touchdowns in an inspired second half to clinch the victory and keep the pressure on rivals Nottingham Caesars at the top of BAFA NFC1.
The Falcons defence started brightly, ripping the ball out of Bulls RB Marc Bonazebi‘s hands on their first offensive play for a turnover. Unfortunately, on the very next play the Falcons’s snap was fumbled and Birmingham got the ball straight back. The turnovers continued as on the subsequent drive Falcons linebacker Bill Hefford intercepted an errant pass and returned into the red zone, with only a tripping penalty preventing a touchdown. The Bulls defence stepped up to hold Leicester but Dan Burton kicked the first points of the game with a short field goal.
As the second quarter began the Falcons defence began to bring the pressure, and Nick Harry came up with a big third down sack on Bulls quarterback Alexander Back. The sack proved to be valuable as on the following play a wild snap went over the head of the Bulls punter and out the back of the end zone for a safety, and the Falcons were gifted two points for a 5-0 lead. After getting the ball back Leicester drove down the field but quarterback AJ Mepstead was intercepted in the end zone by Bulls safety Ryan Lloyd. Birmingham got the ball back and engineered a long drive of their own behind the power running of Bonazebi, capping it off with a 10 yard touchdown run just before the half time whistle.
After a stern team talk from Head Coach Noel Cassar, the Falcons came out all guns blazing in the second half. The defence recorded a quick three-and-out then Mepstead orchestrated a great drive, finishing with a 16 yard touchdown pass to Joe Brammer. On their next possession the offence did it again, Brammer this time turning into the passer on a trick play and connecting with Kyren Watts for a 38 yard gain. After Watts was stripped of the ball at the one yard line receiver Tom Jarrett was on hand to fall on the ball for the touchdown and an 18-6 lead. In the fourth quarter the team mainly focused on running down the clock but Mepstead found time for his third touchdown pass of the game, this time hitting leading scorer Taylor Brown from 30 yards.
The Falcons have little time to rest as this Saturday they host their biggest game of the season as division leaders Nottingham Caesars visit Leicester Road. A victory here will mean the Falcons leapfrog the Caesars into first place and put them in pole position for the playoffs.