Leicester Falcons advanced to the Division 1 semi-finals with a strong showing against Lancashire Wolverines, winning 44-7. While the result flattered the Falcons, the strong running game shone through and the defence achieved key turnovers to achieve victory. (Scroll down for pictures)
Leicester got on to the scoreboard quickly with a swift opening drive that ended in a perfectly-executed quarterback option run, leaving QB Joe Brammer running in from 23 yards untouched. The Wolverines quickly hit back however with a deep touchdown pass from David Mead to Chris Schofield, and it looked like the Falcons had a game on their hands. The Falcons continued to move the ball and elected to gamble by keeping the offence on the field on fourth down from seven yards out, allowing fullback Adam Gumbs to rumble over the line. On the subsequent possession star safety Taylor Brown picked off a tipped Wolverines pass, but the Falcons were unable to capitalise. The Wolverines kept moving the ball, but inside the red zone fumbled and Falcons linebacker Austin Pantling recovered the ball at the bottom of a large pile of players. On the next play Marcus Francis broke away for a huge Falcons gain but stepped on the sideline before making it into the end zone, leaving Tolu Ogundana to vulture the touchdown. Lancashire again drove into the red zone but again fumbled, and the Falcons capitalised with the very last play of the half, Brammer finding Kyren Watts in the corner of the end zone.
The second half began with a long, clock-killing drive, ending with Gumbs scoring his second touchdown from short yardage. The Wolverines offence was tiring and were forced into a series of punts, and the Leicester offence looked happy to run down the clock. When Thomas Singleton-Wells picked off Mead and followed an excellent series of blocks into the end zone for an interception return touchdown the match looked as good as over, and Ogundana added a second, breaking away from 40 yards to complete the 44-7 victory.
The Falcons now face Northumberland Vikings with a trip to the Division 1 Championship game at stake, looking to exorcise the demons of twelve months ago where they fell at this stage, costing the club promotion by the narrowest of margins. The match takes place at Leicester Road, Hinckley, next Sunday (26th), 2:30 kickoff.