Netherlands: Falcons Suffer A Heartbreaking Loss Vs Amsterdam Panthers

Photo: Jasper Barendregt 
The return game against the Amsterdam Panthers was a game with a lot at stake. For a realistic chance to enter the play-offs, the team had to win. Injury problems and a suspension didn’t make it easy for the Falcons to properly prepare but the team that took the field was definitely ready to do battle.

Unfortunately the third play of the game saw a serious injury to Falcons fullback Jeroen Daams. He suffered a knee injury and the game was suspended for an hour while waiting for medical personnel and equipment to remove him from the field.

After the 'break', it became apparent that the Panthers studied the Falcons running game closely, being able to hold the ground attack to only very limited gains. Fortunately the Arnhem defense was awake and kicker Jordin Kemperman’s leg was warmed up, allowing the Falcons to build up a 9-3 lead in the first half. The third fieldgoal by Kemperman was a 47 yarder that would get applause in any league. Even after that, the Panthers offense struggled.

A deep pass to the right appeared to give the guests a touchdown, but this was recalled due to an illegal procedure penalty.

Later in the second quarter a sack-fumble by Arnhem QB AJ Hobbelink lead to the first Panthers touchdown of the day, the PAT was good (9-10). After the Falcons were forced to punt on their ensuing possession, the Panthers struck again by returning the punt to the Arnhem endzone. After adding the PAT the score was 9-17.

The Panthers Offense was able to drive across the field once more before the half ended, but had to settle for another fieldgoal (35 yards) to determine the halftime score at 9-20.

The second half started pretty disastrous for the Falcons, after an initial boost from a defense that stopped the Panthers offense after a fake punt on 4th and 15. This allowed the Falcons offense to take over on the Panthers 25 yard line. The very next play an error in the ball exchange between AJ Hobbelink and Joost Holtslag lead to a fumble that was returned 71 yards for another Panthers touchdown. After the PAT this meant the Falcons were now facing a 9-27 deficit.

Photo: Jasper Barendregt 
With plenty of time left in the third quarter the Arnhem offense then got a much needed boost by the defense, a forced fumble and recovery gave the Falcons offense another chance near midfield. The offense failed to capitalize on this opportunity and had to punt again.

The defense then stepped up yet again by intercepting the Panthers QB and giving the offense the ball on the Amsterdam 38 yard line.

At that point, all of a sudden the Falcons passing attack started to click, a deep pass to Riangelo Antonia put the ball on the Panthers 10. The following play, Antonia finished the job, reeling in another AJ Hobbelink pass for his first Falcons touchdown. Jordin Kemperman added the extra point, reducing the deficit to 11 points (16-27).

The Panthers quickly regained the momentum though, following up an 18 yard QB scramble with a deep pass to the left, which was then converted into a 51 yard touchdown by some nifty moves of the Panthers receiver. The PAT was no good when the ball hit the left upright (16-33).

After a good return, the Falcons offense got another chance from Panthers territory. After an 11 yard completion to Thijs Steffen, it was once again Riangelo Antonia who struck deep in the middle of the Panthers defense, managing to control a deflected pass on the Panthers 5 yard line. The Falcons offense then had some more luck, after a Hobbelink fumble was recovered by Thijs Steffen. On fourth down, AJ Hobbelink then found Steffen in the endzone for his second TD pass of the afternoon. The PAT attempt failed, making the score 22-33 in Amsterdam favor.

Immediately after that, the fourth quarter started and again the Panthers struck first. After driving from their own 25 to the Arnhem 10 yard line, their offense stalled and they settled for another fieldgoal, increasing their lead to 14 points (22-36).

After the kickoff, the Falcons offense continued where it left off, with its passing attack bringing them to the Panthers 19 yard line where AJ Hobbelink connected with Jona Lammers in the endzone for his first touchdown of the season. The PAT was a fake kick, but the attempted pass was incomplete (28-36).

The Falcons defense then did its thing by swarming the Panthers QB and forcing a 3 and out. The punt gave the offense the ball back on the Arnhem 15 yard line. Luck was on the Falcons side when what appeared to be a Joost Holtslag fumble after an inside screenpass was ruled as the runner being down by contact. Five plays later the game seemed over when AJ Hobbelink overthrew a deep pass to Riangelo Antonia and saw it intercepted at the Panthers 9 yard line. The Panthers could not establish a drive and were forced to another three and out, giving Arnhem excellent fieldposition at the Panthers 34.

It only took two plays for the Falcons offense to strike again, Tim van Mal caught a 14 yard pass from AJ Hobbelink, turned and spinned and added another 20 yards turning it into a 34 yard touchdown catch and run. The two point conversion attempt was good as AJ completed another pass to Joost Holtslag in the endzone.

This tied the game at 36-36 with 39 seconds still left on the clock.

A short kickoff and a good return gave Amsterdam good field position. A 10 yard pass brought them into Falcons territory and after an incompletion to the deep right, their third play from scrimmage proved to be lethal: the Panthers receiver managed to get behind the cornerback, hauled the pass and broke free for a 47 yard touchdown. After the PAT went wide left, only 9 seconds remained on the clock with the Panthers leading 36-42.

The kickoff return to the Arnhem 42 yardline left 4 seconds on the clock, just enough time for AJ Hobbelink to attempt one more deep pass. Unfortunately this fell incomplete at the Panthers 20 yard line, ending the game.

Boxscore Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Total
Panthers 3 17 13 9 42
Falcons 6 3 13 14 36

Game Notes:
Falcons QB AJ Hobbelink set a career record by throwing 4 TD passes in one game.
Adam Reiniche added another interception to his record, bringing him to 9 for the season.

Michael van Rijswijck