The Titans ended up on the wrong end of a 78 point shoot-out in Manchester against the Doncaster Mustangs, with both teams each racking up over 450 yards of total offense. All this despite the absence of BAFRA Referees who failed to attend the game. Fortunately Mustangs Head Coach Pete Scorah and Titans GM Tony McCulloch stepped in to officiate game.
The Mustangs won the toss and elected to receive but were unable to pick up a first down and punted the ball to Manchester. On the Titans first play from scrimmage, RB Dave Barnett, who had missed the last 2 games through a team-imposed suspension, ran 34 yards into Doncaster territory. However a sack of QB Alan Mead left the Titans with a tricky 3rd and 17 which they were unable to convert, giving the ball back to Doncaster.
On their next drive, it looked like the Titans Defense had once again held Doncaster 3 & Out, but a 12 yard run by Punter Pete Rogers gave them a First Down and from there they marched a further 48 yards to score on a 4 yard run by QB Graham Lightfoot. LB Sandy Kyriacou snuffed out the attempted rush on the extra leaving the Mustangs leading by six points.
But Manchester came right back, with a 7 play, 75 yard drive, culminating in a 44 yard TD pass from Mead to WR Adam Simms. The 2PAT was no good, making the score 6-6 to end the first quarter.
On Doncaster’s next series, Titans CB Joe Hutton mistimed his jump on a deep pass intended for WR Martyn Lee and Lee strolled into the endzone from 39 yards out. DB Jeremy Walker’s tackle of Lightfoot prevented the conversion. 12-6 to the Mustangs.
The Titans were forced to punt on their next possession and Doncaster quickly drove 46 yards to score on Lightfoot’s 2nd TD pass of the game. Again the extra point was no good, leaving the score 18-6.
Manchester’s Offense started moving the ball effectively through a 16 yard run by RB Nick Copley and a 20 yard reception by WR Will Kinghorn but with the rain starting to come down hard, the wet ball caused a fumbled snap with the Mustangs recovering, ending a promising drive.
Neither team could add to the scoreboard on their next 2 possessions, leaving the half-time score 18-6 in Doncaster’s favour.
The Titans were determined to start off the 2nd half the right way and they responded by marching the ball 70 yards to score. Completions to WR Ben Barker and Simms, plus more good running from Barnett moved the ball down to the Mustangs 20 yard line where Barnett ran it in. TE Ste Kimmins made a superb catch with 2 defenders covering him for the 2 Point Conversion and the Titans were now down by just 4 points.
Doncaster then went on to score passing TDs on their next 3 possessions to extend their lead to 38-14 whilst the Titans were unable to generate any momentum until their final possession of the 3rd quarter, where they had driven the ball down to Doncaster’s 29 yard line and were facing a 4th & 10 as the quarter expired.
Mead’s pass fell incomplete but a Pass Interference Penalty gave the Titans a first down and 2 plays later, Barnett scored his 2nd TD, this time from 6 yards out. The 2PAT failed leaving the score 38-20.
Doncaster were held out of the endzone on their next 2 possessions through some good defense by the Titans, including a great hit by Safety James Dean, preventing a completion and forcing a punt. Manchester started backed up on their own 15 yard line but 3 plays later the Mead to Simms connection resulted in a 52 yard completion into Mustang territory. On 4th & Goal from the 1, Mead sneaked the ball over for a touchdown. Barnett ran in the 2 point conversion and the score was 38-28.
However with the Titans still thinking of the comeback victory, Doncaster scored another passing TD to make the score 44-28. Simms then returned the ensuing kickoff all the way to the Mustangs 33 yard line to give the Titans great field position. A 17 yard catch by Barker moved the ball to the 16 but Mead went for Kinghorn in the endzone and his poorly thrown pass was intercepted.
Despite the 16 point lead and very little time left on the clock, the Mustangs continued to throw the ball and scored again when Titans CB Adam Fox almost intercepted a Doncaster pass but instead tipped it straight to Lee for another TD and the final score of 50-28.
Rik Lowthion came in for Mead in the final seconds and complete passes of 18 yards to WR Matt Barton and 29 yards to Barker as the time expired.
The Titans now face the Merseyside Nighthawks in a crucial clash at Aldwinians on Sunday 17th July.
Offense – RB Dave Barnett, 77 yards on just 7 carries, 2 TDs and a 2PAT. Coming back from suspension, injected some life into the running game.
Honourable Mentions – WR Adam Simms – 9 catches for 162 yards & 1 TD; WR Ben Barker – 6 catches for 76 yards; Gary Matthews & Emmanuel Kwafo – solid game on the O-line.
Defense – LB Sandy Kyriacou – leading tackler with 8 solos and 2 assists.
Honourable Mention – FS James Dean – broke up several passes with his athletic play and toughness.
Special Teams – TE Ste Kimmins, excellent catch for 2PAT and some excellent blocking, including a pancake on a kickoff return.