With the top spot in the MLFA’s Big Eight division on the line, the West Michigan Hawks hosted the Toledo Thunder on Saturday evening at Skinner Field. The teams shared identical 4-1 records coming into the game, and a win for either team would put them in the drivers seat for the top seed in the division.
A tough, hard fought game saw the Thunder come out on top with a 12-7 victory. After returning the game’s opening kickoff 99 yards to the one yard line, Toledo opened the scoring with a one yard scamper on the game’s first play from scrimmage. After missing the extra point, the score remained 6-0.
The Hawks responded late in the second quarter, when Brant Brooks hauled in a five yard pass for a touchdown from quarterback Charles Manny Hodges. The extra point gave the Hawks a 7-6 lead, which they took into halftime.
Toledo was able to answer early in the third quarter, regaining the lead on a 26 yard touchdown run. Their two point attempt was stuffed by the Hawks, keeping the score at a reasonable 12-7 margin.
With the score still the same late in the fourth quarter, the Hawks got the ball back at their own nine yard line with just over a minute remaining. A big play brought them out to the Toledo 45 yard line with 24 seconds left, but a holding penalty and the subsequent 10 second run off put the Hawks in a tough spot, with the ball on their own 45 yard line and seven seconds remaining. On the final play of the game, they completed a long pass down field, but they were not able to find the end zone.
Overall, Toledo outgained West Michigan by a margin of 393-242.
Cornerback Omar Haynes finished the game with three interceptions for the Hawks, while linebacker JaVon Welch had 12.5 tackles.
Despite the loss, the Hawks have still clinched the franchise’s first appearance in the playoffs as a result of losses from other teams across the league.
“I thought we played a solid football game,” said head coach David Lange. “We missed a few opportunities to take the lead, but overall I thought we adjusted nicely. All we can do is look to the next game.”
The Hawks will be in action again this Saturday at Skinner Field when they host the West Michigan Force. Tickets are $6 a piece, with children eight and under free. The Hawks will be raffling off numerous items from local businesses, such as pizza from Hungry Howies and Vitale’s, gift cards to KC’s Kones and Koneys, and much much more! We hope to see you there!
FROM OWNER DAVID LANGE:
An incident occurred in the stands of Saturday evening’s West Michigan Hawks game. Members from the West Michigan Force attended the game to scout our team before our game against them this upcoming weekend. I’d like to personally and formally apologize to the fans who witnessed this incident. The actions from these players were unacceptable, and will not be tolerated by the Hawks or Skinner Field. The Force were reprimanded by the league for their actions, with eight of their players being suspended for this weekend’s game. I have also ensured that there will be a heightened police presence at the game, and a security presence on the field. Our fans and the safety of our fans is our highest priority when we play at home, and we have taken steps to ensure that the integrity of the upcoming game will be of the highest quality.