In typically one of the trickier games of their season, the Nighthawks headed home from a long away trip to Edinburgh this weekend with a win, moving their season record to 4-1 and seizing control of their fate in the race for play off places in the Prem North.
Having lost the toss, Merseyside would receive the ball to begin the game. A long, methodical drive saw the Hawks reach the end zone on a quick run play from the Wolves 3 yard line, only for it to be negated for holding by right guard Steve Hicks. The drive ended in a turnover on downs, as the Nighthawks went for a field goal, only for it to sail wide left.
The Wolves took the ball on their own 3 yard line, but found yards hard to come by early on. The Merseyside defence stood strong, forcing the Wolves pressure on the passer, which resulted in an interception for LB Eddie Webster. The Hawks turned the short field into points quickly.
After a quick run play for a gain of 6 by Laurent Tshimanga, QB Harry Routledge found TE Igors Smelovs in the middle of the field, and despite being challenged by 3 Wolves defenders, ‘FBI’ was able to take the ball into the end zone for the TD, the first of his career. This led to wild celebrations from #87, resulting in an unsportsmanlike penalty for celebrating, which would come back to haunt Merseyside on the ensuing drive. The XP was good, and the Hawks led on the road 7-0.
Facing a short field after the USC penalty, the Wolves were able to capitalise fully. QB Liam Brown took them on an 8 play drive, which was capped off by a short yardage run into the end zone by the Wolves RB. The Wolves would go for 2pts and fail, leaving the score at 7-6 Nighthawks.
The next few drives were penalty laden for the Nighthawks, meaning that they found it difficult to get any momentum going. Fortunately, the Hawks defence stood strong and quickly turned the ball over for Routledge and co. to do their thing. Another long drive, the highlight which was a 36 yard catch from WR Jordan Houghton, led to another Nighthawks field goal attempt. Unfortunately, the kick was again no good, and the score remained at 7-6.
The Wolves again found pressure from the Hawks defence, and the two teams traded turnovers of the ball in quick succession. First, the Wolves RB couldn’t grab the hand off from the QB, meaning that LB Bobby Ludbrook could fall on the ball at about the Wolves 30 yard line to give Merseyside the ball again. However, the Hawks failed to capitalise, as a tipped ball saw Routledge throw an interception off the hands of WR Alex Eager.
Once again, the Nighthawks defence stood strong, giving Merseyside the ball back at the Nighthawks 20 yard line as the half started to draw to a close. Very quickly, OC Nick Thompson had guided the Hawks offence deep into the Wolves half of the field, mostly through a 47 yard catch by WR Dominic Woo, which saw the Hawks on the Edinburgh 2 yard line. In came the goal line package, and QB Routledge was carried over the line for a TD by his offensive line. The XP resulted in a QB scramble by #5 Ben Robinson, who tried to make a dash for the end zone. He came up 2 yards shy, and the score moved to 13-6. This is how it would end in the first half…
Learn how the second half went by reading the full match report at MerseysideNighthawks.co.uk