The Nighthawks won the coin toss, and elected to defer, giving Edinburgh the ball to start the game. The Wolves wasted no time in putting their first points on the board, as they capped off an 10 play drive with a touchdown. The 2 pt conversion was intercepted by DB Pete Norbury, before he was tackled at about the 15 yard line. Edinburgh led, 6-0.
It wasn’t long before Merseyside hit back, with a TD and missed XP of their own. A good kick return from Alex Eager put the ‘Hawks in good field position, and 9 plays later, the offence found the end zone, with a QB keeper from Harry Routledge. Jordan Houghton, deputising for Eager at kicker to begin the game, saw his XP hit the upright before bouncing out. The scores were tied 6-6 and the game was barely 5 minutes old.
Once again, Edinburgh quickly found their groove on offence and marched the ball downfield to the Nighthawks red zone. The Nighthawks seemed to put Edinburgh in a tough spot, forcing them to go for it on 4th and goal from the Nighthawks 10 yard line. Good DB coverage and some pressure up the middle seemed to have killed the chance for Edinburgh to score, only for the QB to float a ball into the back of the ‘Hawks end zone, which was brought in for 6. This time, Edinburgh added on the 2pt conversion and were back in front, 14-6.
The game was heading to a back and forth shoot out, and the Nighthawks put together another long drive, which took us into the 2nd quarter. As the home team looked to be tying the game up, the Wolves defence stuffed the Nighthawks 3rd down, and the Merseyside outfit brought on the Field Goal team. Edinburgh managed to block the ball on the ensuing kick and maintained their advantage in the now baking hot sun.
Once again, the Edinburgh offence found yards easy to come by, and were deep in the Nighthawks half within a few plays. This time however, HC Pennington made some key changes to the defence, who came up big with a huge stop on 4th down, to give the Hawks offence the ball back on their own 22 yard line. QB Ben Robinson entered the game and engineered a 7 play drive, which drew the home team deep into the opposition red zone. The Hawks would come away from the drive with no points though, as they failed to convert on 4th down.
Each team’s defences now started to find their groove and after a series of exchanged 3 and outs, the Nighthawks had the ball with relatively short field, starting on their own 40 yard line. 5 plays later, and WR Dominic Woo found the end zone after a short pass over the middle from QB Robinson. The resulting 2pt conversion was good, only for the refs to rightly pull the score back for an ineligible man downfield. The second 2pt conversion went incomplete, and this would bring the scoring to an end for the first half, and the Wolves led 14-12 in Skelmersdale.
The two team’s defences started the second half much as they had ended the first, with each team possessing the ball and exchanging punts. The Nighthawks were the first to put together a sustained drive, and once again found themselves in the Wolves red zone. The Edinburgh defence battened down and stuffed the Nighthawks offence, leading to another field goal attempt, this time from Alex Eager. He too missed from about 25 yards out, sending his kick wide to the left. The Wolves still led 14-12.
After a quick 5 play drive from the Wolves, a shanked punt gave Merseyside another short field, which the home team capitalised on. A sustained drive, mixing some quick runs from RB Tshimanga, and some short throws from Routledge left the Nighthawks with 1st and goal from 9 yards out. QB Routledge ran another keeper, taking the ball to the end zone for 6. Once again, the HAwks went for 2pts, only for WR Houghton was called down short of the end zone after making a juggling catch down the Wolves sideline. The Hawks took their first lead of the day, and would go on to not relinquish it for the rest of the afternoon, 18-14 the scoreline.
Despite only being in the 3rd quarter, and only down 18-14, Edinburgh decided to go for it on 4th down around midfield on their next series. A run up the middle was called incredibly short of the line, the Wolves RB missing the 1st down by no more than 6 inches! The Nighthawks offence took over and just after the game entered the 4th quarter, they would be up by 2 scores. QB Routledge threw the ball down the right sideline from the Wolves 32 yard line, and that man Alex Eager was there again to haul it in. The XP was good this time, and the Hawks were out to a 25-14 lead.
The next Wolves drive saw a fumble recovery for the Nighthawks negated by an offside call, and with time running out for Edinburgh, they again made the decision to go for it on 4th down on their next drive, which had seen them creep into the Nighthawks half. However, a series of defended passes and tipped balls saw them turn the ball over on downs, and the Nighthawks started to look to work the clock to their advantage.
The Nighthawks took full advantage of this turnover, driving the ball down deep into the Edinburgh half. Facing 2nd and goal from the Wolves 4 yard line, the Edinburgh defence brought pressure and forced QB Robinson to try and throw the ball away to avoid a sack. However, he hadn’t accounted for the Wolves #9, who intercepted the ball, running away to the Nighthawks end zone for a pick 6. Inexplicably, 15 yards from pay dirt the Wolves defender held his hand out to taunt the Nighthawks WR Eager, wiping the TD off the board. To make matters even worse, the Wolves then fumbled the ball on the very next play from the Nighthawks 30 yard line, with LB Bobby Ludbrook scooping up the fumbled ball. With about 6 minutes left, the Hawks led 25-14 still and had the ball.
After a quick 3 and out for Merseyside, Edinburgh took over and tried to make something happen, once again going for it on 4th down, and failing. WIth 3:43 left on the game clock, the Nighthawks had the ball on their own 40 yard line and tried to add a score, but the Wolves defence once again stood strong, forcing the Hawks to punt the ball away on 4th down. Deep inside their own 2 yard line, and with less than 2 minutes to go, some string pressure from the edge forced the Wolves QB to throw an interception, albeit off a tip from his own WR. Safety Jonny Weekes caught the ball and gave the Nighthawks one last opportunity to score, with the ball on the Wolves 10 yard line. One play later, and the Hawks did exactly that, with WR Jordan Houghton hauling in the pass from Routledge to extend the Hawks lead further. Tacking on the XP now seemed much easier, and the scoreboard showed 33-14, with mere seconds remaining.
Credit to the Wolves, they came out and drove the ball downfield again, with only the game clock expiring stopping them from scoring late in the game. The game was called with the Wolves deep in the Nighthawks red zone, and the home team took their record to 2-1 for the year, whilst dropping Edinburgh to 1-1 for the season.
The Nighthawks are back in action this weekend at JMO Sports Park, where Manchester Titans are the opponents. You can find out more about the game here :- https://www.facebook.com/events/288006688781924/