The Baltimore Nightmare Diamond League football team was in Sussex County on March 5 and it’s keeping the Warhawks up at night — especially after they missed two fourth-quarter field goals in a 15-12 loss.
The Warhawks had balanced their offensive attack well (150 yards rushing and 186 yards passing) but they couldn’t put the ball in the end zone when in the red zone.
“We moved the ball well from 20 to 20 (yard line) but we broke down like we always do (this season),” said Warhawks Offensive Coordinator Butch Yocum. “Either it was a holding penalty or a missed block.”
Overall, Yocum was happy with his offensive production but noted that he should have mixed the play-calling up — especially in the red zone.
Yocum called the eighth straight running play on the advice of running back Darnell Strand and the offensive line, but the defense was ready for it and stopped them cold.
“I should’ve thrown a play-action pass in there,” he said. “I think it would’ve sunk the defense in enough to score.
The Warhawks held a 12-8 lead heading into the second half on a 20-yard touchdown reception by wide receiver Torrez Spence and a 2-yard touchdown run by Strand.
Strand normally plays safety but was shifted to running back to replace Martin Francois, which created a major hole in the Warhawks secondary.
Defensive back/wide receiver Lacii Cleveland started at safety against the Nightmare but a bad foot made the reality into a horrible dream.
The Nightmare scored two touchdowns on deep passes that got behind the coverage.
“That’s just something that you can’t do,” Yocum said of his defensive backs letting the receiver get deeper than their positions. “Nobody is supposed to get behind you.”
Despite giving up the big play, the Warhawks still had a chance to tie the game with less than 30 seconds remaining in regulation, but linebacker/kicker Jonathan Meiklejohn missed his second field goal of the quarter from about 25 yards out.
The Warhawks didn’t have anymore timeouts, so Yocum decided to send Meiklejohn out for the mid-range field goal.
“It’s not his fault,” Yocum admitted. “It’s tough to hit a field goal if you’re not a field goal kicker. Meiklejohn just happens to be able to kick the best. Next year, we’re going to advertise to recruit someone just to play kicker because it can make the difference in the game.”
The Warhawks (2-3) now must win its next three games if they are to have a chance at the playoffs. First and second place teams from the New Jersey and Delaware divisions earn automatic bids and the top four teams from either division earn at-large bids. Bids are given to teams with the best records but the first tie-breaker goes to head-to-head match-ups, then points allowed.
The Warhawks have given up the second-most points in the Delaware division (96 compared to 108 for the 1-4 last-place Queen Anne Thunder).
The Warhawks will travel to Wilmington to play the Raiders (3-2) on March 18 for a 7 p.m. kickoff.