The Merseyside Nighthawks played their last away game of the season this past weekend as they made the long trip north to Scotland to face the East Kilbride Pirates. Once a powerhouse of football in the north, the Pirates went into the fixture without a win in 2018 knowing that with only two games left on their schedule they knew that defeat would leave them with only a slim chance of staying in the Premier North. The Nighthawks have had a disappointing year themselves as they went into the game with only one win of their own so far this season and a loss to East Kilbride could put their Premier North existence in jeopardy.
With so much to play for the Nighthawks couldn’t have asked for a better start as the Pirates fumbled the ball on the second play of the game which was duly recovered by ‘Hawks defensive captain Greg Williams to give Merseyside’s offence possession deep in the East Kilbride redzone. After two plays of their own, the visiting Nighthawks were in front as quarterback Ben Robinson took the ball up the middle into the endzone to give his side a 6-0 lead. The Pirates responded on their next drive and following some poor tackling from Merseyside they were able to run the ball down the right sideline for the score to tie the game at 6-6.
The Nighthawks started to grow into the game as it progressed with good stops on defence and more points from offence as Robinson found wide receiver Liam Holebrook deep for the second Merseyside touchdown of the day to give them a 13-6 lead to take into the second quarter. From there the Nighthawks kept up the pressure on the Pirates and scored another touchdown as Robinson again found Holebrook deep for the score to make it 19-6. The ‘Hawks had another great chance to put more points on the board as wide receiver-turned-safety Harry Routledge forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff which was recovered by rookie cornerback Dave Samson but the resulting field goal attempt from Holebrook several plays later was unsuccessful. Merseyside managed to force another turnover before the end of the second quarter as cornerback Jonny Weekes grabbed yet another interception in his first season with the ‘Hawks as they saw out the half with their 19-6 lead.
The second half of the game turned into a largely defensive battle as Merseyside kept their lead intact and the Pirates at bay. Defensive end Carl Rugen made several tackles for loss and the defensive backfield of Routledge, Weekes and Vijay Masaun stopped any advance through the air. Offensively, the Nighthawks grabbed their fourth touchdown of the day through running back Jace Cascoe as he carried the ball wide left for the score to make it 25-6 to the Nighthawks. The Pirates managed to get a consolation score in the fourth quarter but were unable to put up any more points as the game finished 25-12 to Merseyside. Next up for the Nighthawks (2-5) is a home fixture against the Edinburgh Wolves (4-3) on Sunday the 15th of July.