The Manchester Titans hosted the first Flag Football Fixtures of the 2018 season at the Manchester College Nicholls Campus on Saturday 14th March. The Titans Adult Flag Team enter the season as MEC Central Division Champions which qualified them to play in the newly formed BAFA Premier North Conference.
The opening game was against local rivals, the Manchester Crows and the Crows came out strongly scoring on their first 3 drives to take a 19-0 lead whilst the Titans offense stumbled through a number of misfires and dropped passes. Eventually the O found it’s rhythm and QB Alan Mead hit GB International David McInally for a TD with rookie WR David Briscall adding the extra point. Down 19-7 at half-time, the Titans didn’t panic and came out strongly in the 2nd half with 2 more McInally TDs to tie the game at 19-19.
Crows QB Tahla Javed threw his 4th TD pass of the game to retake the lead but the Titans Jay Pitchford scored and added the extra point to take the lead 26-25. But the Crows off-season signing from the Cheshire Cavaliers, Sergio De Paco added his 2nd TD to give the Crows a 32-26 advantage. Disaster struck on the next drive as a trick play failed and the Crows took over, but the Big Blue Defense held strong giving the Titans Offense one last chance with a minute on the clock.
Mead led the Titans downfield and with time running out, avoided the pass rush and hit former U19 player Ben Nuttall in paydirt for the game-tying TD with just 4 seconds remaining. The reliable Pitchford caught the crucial extra point to give the Titans a 33-32 lead. One final incomplete pass from the Crows meant the Titans had come from behind to win another classic battle. Javed & Mead each threw 5 TD passes whilst McInally was the leading scorer with 3TDs. Rookie Will Gleed also recorded a sack in his first game.
In the second game of the day the Titans took on the Sheffield Giants, who were ranked 3rd in the country last season. The Titans started strongly this time with McInally catching 2 early TDs and adding an extra point to take a 13-0 lead, but the Giants came back with GB Lion Dean Whittingslow throwing deep to GB Silver Lion Josh Allen, who despite a pass deflection by the Titans Ian Allonby, still managed to come down with the ball in the endzone for a TD.
However Manchester proceeded to take over the game from this point with Mead finding Rick McEwen for 2 TDs with Pitchford adding an extra point and the Titans Defense dominating the Giants O, with sacks from Gleed, a pick from McInally and a sack for a safety by Tom Brook. McInally’s 3rd TD of the game with McEwen converting gave the Titans a 35-6 lead before an athletic play by Whittingslow on a deflected pick 6, made the final score 35-12.
The last game of the day saw the Titans take on the Leeds Samurai which proved to be entertaining and high scoring with the Manchester coming out on top 46-19. Leeds QB Kyle Taylor passed for 2 TDs and ran for another but found the Big Blue Defense tough to beat as they racked up 7 sacks – 3 each by Rookie Elliot Davies and Julie Gilmour, plus 1 by Tom Brook. Leigh Kerrigan, Ian Allonby and Dev Samba all added interceptions, whilst the Titans offense rotated several players to get game experience.
QB Mead threw 7 Tds to 5 different receivers with Rick McEwen and David Briscall catching 2 each, Titans former U19 player Dante Harris caught one, McInally added his 7th of the day before Jay Pitchford scored the final TD, along with 2 extra points. Nuttall and Briscall also scored extra points for the Titans highest points total of the day.
Next up for the Titans Flag Team is a trip to the Netherlands to take part in the King Bowl International Flag Tournament, before the next regular season match up against Newcastle Blackhawks and the Sheffield Vipers in Leeds on May 5th.