Steelers win by a short head

Leicester Falcons were stunned by a second half comeback from division
favourites Sandwell Steelers on Sunday, after storming into an early
lead. In a spectacular game that was a great advert for British
Gridiron Leicester came up just short in a high-scoring encounter
at Tipton Sports Academy.

The match began in the best possible circumstances for the Falcons,
with gadget player Taylor Brown immediately running
for a big gain, and RB Nat Eaves pounding over
from ten yards for his first score of the season. The defence stepped
up to prevent a Sandwell score, with Dan Smith
breaking up a pass in the end zone on fourth down, and Leicester
immediately scored again. Troy Lee threw a deep
pass to Jack Verling for 85 yards on the first
play of the drive, and at this point the Falcons were up 14-0 having
played four offensive plays. Taylor Brown added
a touchdown of his own before the end of the quarter to give the
Falcons a 21-0 lead. Sandwell cut the score to 21-7 at the start
of the second quarter via a long touchdown pass from QB Callum
Davidson
, but the Falcons defence held firm after that
to give Leicester the halftime lead.

As the second half began, a special teams error allowed Steelers
to pull a score back, but the Falcons immediately hit back with
a score of their own, Taylor Brown running a jet
sweep and running 60 yards for the touchdown. Both defences were
looking tired at this point in the 20 degree heat and before the
quarter ended both teams had scored again via rushing plays, James
Jones-Cross
for the Steelers and Brown
completing his hat-trick for the Falcons. At the end of the third
quarter the score was 35-20 to the Falcons.

Sandwell deserved credit for keeping the pressure up on offence
despite their deficit and scored again at the start of the third
quarter, Davidson passing to rookie wide receiver
Luke Thompson to cut the gap to one score. Leicester’s
offence failed to get anything going and were forced into punting,
and Sandwell used their next drive to score their fifth touchdown,
missing the extra point to give Leicester a single point lead. Troy
Lee
led a long drive down field thanks to an outstanding
if fortunate catch from Jack Verling, controlling
the ball after it had ricocheted off his feet, but gambled with
the fourth down attempt inside the red zone and came up just short.
Sandwell elected to take a deliberate safety, giving them better
field position at the expense of two points, and Leicester had to
defend a 37-34 lead with four minutes left on the clock. Davidson
and Jones-Cross engineered a long drive down the
field to force the ball over the goalline with just seconds remaining
to take the exciting but agonising match 42-37.

The defeat, the first since August 2015, leaves the Falcons in
third place in their division, albeit having played fewer games
than their rivals. Leicester will get a chance for revenge in two
weeks as their next match is also away to Sandwell before a run
of home games in June.