8 July 2017
Leicester Falcons produced a fantastic all round performance to beat close rivals Nottingham Caesars at Leicester Road on Saturday to overtake them in the division standings and claim the lead in BAFA NFC1 South. The win also confirms the Falcons’ playoff place with two regular season games to go. (See Pictures)
For the fifth time this year, the Falcons scored on their opening possession. Speedy receiver Kyren Watts took in a short pass and sprinted past his marker for a 16 yard touchdown. The Caesars defence proved they had some fight in them, putting pressure on QB Troy Lee Jackson, mainly from linebacker Andrew Willkins who put up three sacks on the night, but their offence was unable to capitalise. It wasn’t long before the Falcons scored again, running back Nat Eaves punching home from 4 yards out after Jackson completed a huge pass to Tom Jarrett. On the subsequent possession safety Dom Olney intercepted Caesars QB Dan Johnson and the Falcons engineered another scoring drive, Tolu Ogundana finishing this one off with a nine yard touchdown. Just before the halftime whistle Nottingham got on the board, Johnson completing a deep pass to receiver Deivydas Merkelis for a 42 yard touchdown, making the halftime score 20-7.
The second half was a bit more bad-tempered with penalties on both sides. Nottingham were fortunate not to have a man ejected after a flagrant foul on the opening kick off, and Leicester racked up several penalty yards for numerous technical offences. After a long drive starting on their own 11 yard line the Falcons finally broke the second-half deadlock, Jack Verling brilliantly taking in a 20 yard pass in the back of the end zone. On the very next play from scrimmage Taylor Brown intercepted a Dan Johnson pass and returned it into the end zone for a touchdown, one of three picks for him on the night. Young cornerback Matt Thomas also got in on the action with an interception of his own to complete a five-interception night for the defence.
Next up for Leicester is a return match with the Caesars in Nottingham in two weeks, where a win will confirm the division title. The Falcons must continue to perform better than Manchester Titans in the NFC1 North over their final two games in order to hold the #1 seed in the playoffs.