Fall is the perfect time to merge some of our favorite things — Hallmark Channel movies, football, and college sweethearts.
In Fourth Down and Love, Pascale Hutton and Ryan Paevey portrayed former college sweethearts Erin and Mike, who saw each other for the first time in years.
Mike was a pro football player at home nursing an injury, and Erin was a single mom who was rooting for her flag football-playing daughter. Sparks flew on and off the field as soon as they reunited.
We all have had big dreams. Mike Hanson wanted to win the championship ring for the Whalers. Those dreams vanished when he became injured for the second time in a year.
As he became depressed, his brother Jimmy invited him to recover back home and assist with his daughter’s flag football team.
Single mom Erin had her problems. Her daughter, Kiara, wasn’t being treated right on her flag football team, so they tried to switch her to Jimmy’s team, which was an all-girl team.
Kiara: I want to be on that team.
Coach: Are you asking to be traded?
Coach: This isn’t pro football, Kiara. You don’t just switch teams. The roster is the roster.
Mike arrived during the switch, and Jimmy immediately noticed the undercurrents and sparks.
Jimmy: You’re that Erin? The one that broke my brother’s heart?
Erin: Pretty sure I didn’t break his heart, so probably not that Erin.
Mike: She did. I’m going to watch practice from over there.
While Mike and Erin vowed to stay casual acquaintances for the girls’ sake, Jimmy’s wife, Danielle, was on a match-making mission.
Danielle was humorous since she wasn’t subtle when she invited Erin and Kiara over or huddled the rest of the family inside.
She wanted Mike and Erin to talk, which they needed to.
These two had so much emotional baggage to unpack about why they broke up and what they both wanted from life.
Mike: You think I ever forgot about you?
Erin: Well, you seemed to move on pretty quickly.
Mke: I didn’t have much choice. You wouldn’t even talk to me. You just disappeared from my life.
Erin was hiding something, but it hurt too much to relive, so she insisted they avoid each other instead. Every time they interacted, it seemed like she still cared, and it hurt her to avoid him, but she forced herself to do it.
Erin didn’t get her wish since Jimmy needed to coach the high school team, and Mike had to take over the flag football team with her help.
Erin knew she had to be mature and not disappoint the girls, especially her daughter.
Being a coach allowed Mike to mentor some young girls and teach them the fundamentals, including the importance of teamwork. This was especially important for Kiara since she longed to catch plays after being deprived of that when playing on the boys’ team.
They were similar in many ways, so he taught her plays that involved the team and helped them win the game. It was the first time Erin had seen her daughter happy, which helped her relax around Mike and made him not want to leave any time soon.
Erin was so used to defending her daughter that when Kiara freaked out about playing against her former team, Gertie, Mike’s mom, had to stop her.
Mike was fantastic at getting Kiara to visualize herself landing, touching, and showing those boys what she’s made of. She just needed someone to believe in her.
Kiara desperately needed some stability in her life, though she seemed more laidback about her mom dating again. Erin thought Kiara would freak out, but I suspect Kiara missed having a father figure around who actually liked sports.
Mike’s family wanted Erin and Mike reunited since they weren’t subtle about match-making or spying on them kissing. Danielle even volunteered to have Kiara sleepover so Erin could dance with Mike.
Watching them share their first kiss and slow dance were sweet and intimate moments.
They seemed happy, so in rom-com verse, something was about to come crashing down.
I knew Richard was trouble. There had to be a reason that Erin avoided him when Richard wanted to discuss business with Mike.
Erin never wanted to break up with Mike in college, but Richard made her, and now he planted seeds of doubt in her head again.
She thought she had made the correct decision for years since Mike was close to winning that championship ring.
However, Mike finally seemed happy balancing family life and football, making her wonder if they could have the brass ring when he returned to playing football.
Erin: It’ll be like none of this ever happened.
Mike: Don’t say that. It did happen. It is happening. It doesn’t have to end.
Erin: I just don’t want to get in your way.
Richard didn’t care that Mike kept occupied while being injured. He only worried he wasn’t focused on the prize, earning him money. Mike didn’t want to leave the girls during the championship game. His priorities had shifted.
Luckily, Mike’s brain also shifted. While he was initially hurt that Erin broke things off again, he quickly realized that Richard threatened her both in college and now.
Mike: You’re why she walked out on Draft Day and today. What did you tell her? Did you tell her I was being traded?
Richard: I said what needed to be said for you to have the career you wanted.
Mike assumed that he could call Erin and fix things, but Erin was scared to bring another man into her life that would desert not only her but Kiara, who didn’t need another deadbeat dad.
It took a leap of faith for Erin to attend one of Mike’s Whaler’s football games and admit she was done running. So was he, since he agreed that he was finishing his professional career there.
While we’re unsure if this film was a one-off or part of a movie series, I’m crossing my fingers for more. I found the entire Hanson family to be charming, and I’d love to see Mike coach another season of the Whalers flag football team with assistance from Jimmy, Danielle, and Erin.
Since this was the first adult male that gave Kiara any attention, I think we need more time to see how the family dynamics evolve now that Mike is her mom’s boyfriend and her coach.
What about you? Were you charmed by Erin and Mike? What would you like to see in a potential sequel? Let us know in the comments below.
Laura Nowak is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.