The Wolverines continued their impressive season with a solid win against an old rival. And they started from the off too, with a score on the opening drive.
Strong rushing from Chris Hearle brought the Merseyside defence closer before a Jack Barton pass to Chris Astley was turned into a fantastic gain by the receiver, before he was downed at the one yard line.
Astley (80) with the good yards after catch on Lancashire's opening drive
Chris Littler then punched the ball in up the middle for the score. The PAT attempt was good, leaving the early score at Merseyside 0-7 Lancashire.
The Nighthawks’ offence looked good, as it has all season, but the same problem that has dogged them all season did so again with quarterback Adrian Hodgers unable to contain a couple of botched snaps from the shotgun.
However they drove well and sold the fake a couple of times, getting down to the Wolverines’ red zone. However it is here where the Black Swarm defence lived up to its name, stopping Merseyside and turning the ball over on downs.
Merseyside's centre-quarterback exchange led to a few fumbles
The Nighthawks’ defence stepped up well, stopping Lancashire from moving at all on the next drive and forcing them to punt.
Moving in to the second quarter and Lancashire’s defence again showed why they have become one of the stingiest in the League. This time Chris Anderson, returning to the line up after returning from holiday, picking off Hodgers and returning for a touchdown from about midfield. With the PAT good Lancashire led by 14 points to nothing.
Strong running by Laurent Tshimanga and Hodgers began the next Merseyside drive well before another botched centre-quarterback exchange allowed Jack Watson to recover for Lancashire.
However the away side couldn’t capitalise and defences stepped up, meaning a few three and outs followed.
Adrian Hodgers (2) looked good passing as the Wolverines look to bear down
After the half time period Merseyside came out fighting. Strong running again by Tshimanga and Hodgers allowed the play to open up for receivers Joe Black and Ben Barker. Black then forced in the short score on the end around after a decent drive. The Great Britain receiver then had his PAT attempt blocked, leaving the score at Nighthawks 6-14 Wolverines.
Lancashire came back firing, with David Mead now under centre and showing his ability to get out in to the open field and rush if the pass was not available. The offensive line was excellent too and showed it in the red zone as Danny Cooper, out of his regular position and playing at centre, opened up a gap for Mead to push through on the quarterback sneak and score. The PAT attempt was wide right, leaving the Wolverines with a 6-20 lead over the home side.
Joe Black got the ball into the end zone again after a quick pass from Hodgers but the play was called back and they couldn’t repeat.
Things began to get heated between the two old rivals and, following a Merseyside fumble recovery, an exchange between Lancashire’s Craig Oliphant and the Nighthawks’ Mark Houghton after the play escalated things.
Hodgers showed good running as well as decent passing but was unable to lead the Nighthawks to a win
However Lancashire was able to close out the game after a decent interception by Jack Watson allowed them to grind the ball down field. They missed a field goal to end the game, leaving the final score at Merseyside Nighthawks 6-20 Lancashire Wolverines. The home team are now 0 & 5 and still sit bottom of the division, though whether they deserve to be is questionable, whereas their rivals are 4 & 1 and at the top of the Division 1 North.
Full Time: Merseyside Nighthawks 6 - 20 Lancashire Wolverines
Game report and photography courtesy Nathan James Sharrocks. www.dblcoverage.com