15/07/12 Manchester Titans @ Staffordshire Surge

With Crewe’s home ground water-logged, the Staffordshire Surge very kindly offered to host the Crewe-Lincoln match before their own fixture against the Titans. An exciting game finished in a 30-30 tie between the Railroaders & Bombers before Manchester got to take the field against Staffs. The double-header meant that for the second time in two weeks the Titans and Surge fixture would be played with a rolling clock (not stopping for incomplete passes or going out of bounds).

The Surge won the toss and curiously elected to kick-off. However their planned onside kick attempt failed, with Matt McCormack snatching the short kick out of the air, giving the Titans great field position at Staffordshire’s 42 yard line. 3 straight runs by RB Nick Copley moved the ball to the Surge 20, but on 3rd & 5, QB Alan Mead was sacked and fumbled and despite OL Darrell Noon recovering the loose ball, the drive stalled. Manchester attempted a 45 yard field goal but Matt Nelan’s kick was short.

The Titans defense stopped the Surge from picking up a first down and their punt was downed on Manchester’s 27 yard line. A 16 yard run on the first play by FB Jonathan Gago set the tone for the drive. Copley ran for 11 yards on the next play before Mead hit WR Danny Cabellero with two passes of 13 and 15 yards, the second on 4th down which gave the Titans a 1st& Goal from the Surge 9 yard line. WR Will Kinghorn hauled in his fifth TD of the season on the next play to give the Titans a 6-0 lead. Nelan’s extra point kick was missed.

Staffordshire’s next drive ended the same way as their first – with the Titan’s defense keeping them from picking up a first down. This time a 4th down stop by McCormack and LB Sandy Kyriacou turned the ball over on downs at the Titans 43 which signalled the end of the 1st quarter.

The Titans moved the ball efficiently on their resulting drive, with Mead throwing completions of 25 yards to Cabellero, 16 yards to FB Niall Sweeney and 17 yards to WR Adam Simms. After a 6 yard run by Gago, Mead threw his 2nd TD pass of the game, a 2 yard toss to Sweeney. Nelan’s extra point was again unsuccessful making the score 12-0.

The Titans defense once again forced the Surge “3 and Out” and the Manchester offense increased the tempo, moving the ball on 6 straight completions that covered a total of 75 yards – all made by WR Rik Lowthion & Matt Nelan – the final pass a Lowthion 6 yard TD catch. The 2PAT attempt failed and the score moved to 18-0 Titans.

Titan’s DL Erivaldo Guimaraes made three straight tackles to bring the first half to a close, with the Surge kept from recording a single first down in the opening two quarters.

The Titans elected to receive the 2nd half kick-off and drove down to the Surge 7 yard line before the Surge defense stiffened and forced the Titans into a 33 yard Dave Barnett field goal attempt which was missed.

The Titans defense was in an unforgiving mood, and Staffordshire were made to punt yet again, but a short kick and a decent return by WR Drew Sherratt put the ball on the Surge 33. Another 16 yard run by Gago, followed up by short catches by Simms & Sherratt set up a 1 yard TD run by Gago. Barnett missed the PAT making the score 24-0.

After the kickoff, Guimaraes got into the Surge backfield and forced a fumble that DL James Newall recovered for Manchester. RB Ross Profit ripped a 19 yard run straight up the middle on the next play which set up an 8 yard TD catch by Sherratt – recording his first ever score. Barnett kicked the XP making the score 31-0.

Staffordshire were forced into a punting situation again on their next possession and the short kick sailed out of bounds at the Surge 29 yard line. On the very next play Profit showed great power and speed and cut a 29 yard run into the endzone. Barnett’s extra point kick was successful, and the Titans extended their lead to 38-0.

Staffordshire’s offense continued to struggle generating any momentum and on 3rd down DB James Dean came up and put a monster hit on the Surge RB, causing a fumble which was recovered by LB Rob Bainbridge. Profit again ran the ball in on the next play, this time from 19 yards out, for his fourth TD of the season. The 2 point attempt was incomplete, only leaving enough time for a final Titans kick-off and for the Surge to end the game on a kneel–down, securing a second consecutive shut-out win for the Titan’s.

For the Titans, the biggest game of the season is next Sunday against the Sheffield Predators– with the winner virtually assured of the division title. Manchester will be looking for revenge following their only loss this season at Sheffield. With the Titans Junior Team playing against Leeds at 12 noon and the Adult team playing at 3 p.m., it should be a great day of football at Salford City Stadium.