The Merseyside Nighthawks finally got their 2018 season underway on Sunday as they faced the Manchester Titans. However, things didn’t quite go to plan as the ‘Hawks lost their opening fixture for the first time in over 5 years.
Both the Nighthawks and Titans offences struggled in the heat during the first quarter but defensively the ‘Hawks started well as they came up with three turnovers. Cornerback Jonny Weekes grabbed an athletic interception early on, before linebacker Mark Houghton snagged a pick of his own in the red zone, returning the ball 48 yards on one of the players of the day for Merseyside. Houghton also came up with a key fumble recovery to get the ball back for the Nighthawks offence but it wasn’t until the second quarter before any points were scored as Liam Holebrook kicked a field goal for the ‘Hawks to give them a 3-0 lead.
Merseyside’s lead did not last long, however, as Manchester hit back straight away. The first touchdown of the game was scored with a rush up the middle before adding a second through the air not long after. It may have been the shock the Nighthawk offence needed and only a few plays later, quarterback Ben Robinson found Holebrook with a deep pass for a huge 55 yard touchdown. Robinson then led the offence on a long drive down the field on their next possession, before capping it off with a 4 yard touchdown run for himself to put the Nighthawks back in the lead at 17-14. Again, the lead didn’t last long as with just a minute left on the clock before halftime, the Titans connected on a deep pass play of their own to make it 21-17 to Manchester at the half.
Receiving the ball to start the third quarter, Merseyside managed to establish their run game and running back Martin Murphy carried defenders on the way to a 10 yard touchdown to make it 24-21 to the ‘Hawks. Once again, the Titans fought back not long after, as they connected on another passing touchdown to make it 28-24 to Manchester. Yemi Adenola grabbed another interception for Merseyside. As the Nighthawks tried to retake the lead, and the game entered the fourth quarter, the Titans added two more touchdowns, one an athletic leap into the end zone to give themselves a big 42-24 lead. Robinson managed to get another score on the board for Merseyside and despite a fumble recovery late in the fixture from linebacker Peter Norbury the Nighthawks were unable to get any more points from the game as it ended Titans 42-31 Nighthawks.
Not the start that Merseyside were looking for as they started their third season in the Premier North division. However, with the reigning Britbowl champions Tamworth Phoenix next up, the Nighthawks must look forwards as they aim to make the playoffs once again. You can find all the details of the game on our Facebook page and event https://www.facebook.com/events/230882867660176/