6 August 2017
Leicester Falcons moved into the BAFA division 1 semi-finals with a hard-fought victory over Yorkshire Rams on Sunday at Leicester Road. In what was an evenly matched up battle on offence, it proved to be turnovers that made the difference for the Falcons.
As has happened so many times this season, Leicester began with a score on their opening possession. After limiting the Rams to three-and-out and a skewed punt the Falcons took over with half a field and began with a quick pass to Taylor Brown, who slipped multiple tackles and ran in for the touchdown. Both offences remained cagey in the first quarter and the teams exchanged punts before the Rams took the lead at the beginning of the second quarter, Taylor Umland leading a precision aerial attack for the Rams before completing to Spencer Whybrow in the corner of the end zone. Running back Keimar Stewart added the two-point conversion to take an 8-7 lead. The Falcons hit straight back however and Falcons QB Troy Lee Jackson led a long drive down the field before Brown added his second touchdown, this time an 8 yard run. The Rams responded with a drive of their own but elected to keep their offence on the field instead of risk a long field goal, and the Falcons’ defence stopped the Rams on fourth down by a matter of inches to force the turnover on downs, keeping the score 15-8 at halftime.
Leicester began the second half well, with Jackson completing a deep ball to Jack Verling who dived over the line for a touchdown and a 21-8 lead. The subsequent possession for Yorkshire again looked promising but came to a halt at the goal line as Dom Olney made the interception, who has now intercepted in the last four straight games. His long return to the opposite end zone was ruled out by a block in the back penalty. The Falcons’ offence stalled here and the Rams took over with another drive into the red zone, but this time it was linebacker Nick Harry who stepped up with the interception to halt the Rams’ progress. In the final quarter Brown completed his hattrick from short yardage before Rob Rees produced a huge sack of Umland to end the Rams’ final offensive drive.
Leicester Falcons now host Manchester Titans in the division 1 semifinals, with a place in the division 1 Championship Game at stake. While still to be confirmed, it is likely that the winner will also be promoted to the Northern Premier Division next season, which would be Leicester’s second successive promotion. Manchester are likely to prove tough opposition however, with an identical league record to the Falcons.