Manchester Titans Juniors looked to bounce back from their opening day loss at Lanarkshire with the first match of a Double-Header with the Senior team at their new home ground at Salford City Stadium against the Lancashire Wolverines Colts.
The Titans kicked off to the Wolverines and on the 2nd play from scrimmage Lancashire managed to break containment on the outside and ran 48 yards to score. The extra point was good making the score 7-0.
A bad pitch on their first play meant the Titans were already facing 2nd and 17 but completions by QB Ryan Gannon to TE Patryk Tomaszewski and FB Jake Currie weren’t quite enough for a first down and the Titans had to punt. Both teams exchanged punts until LB Kieran Candon picked off a Lancashire pass, giving the Titans great field position at the Wolverines 28 yard line. However the Titans were not able to pick up a first down and were left to attempt a 39 yard field goal attempt which fell short.
The 1st quarter ended with the Wolverines driving from their own 22 yard line. The managed to drive all the way down to the Titans 1 yard line when they fumbled the exchange and DE Uchenna Aniedu pounced on the loose ball. However, once again, Manchester was unable to move the ball and a short punt, gave the Lancashire great field position on the Titans 25 yard line. But more good defense from the Titans forced the Wolverines to settle for a field goal which they made from 33 yards out, making the score 10-0. With time running out in the 2nd quarter, Gannon tried to force the ball deep toward WR Sam Pollard but the pass was intercepted. Lancashire couldn’t add to their lead though as Candon came up with his 2nd turnover, recovering another Wolverines fumble.
The 2nd half kickoff was returned to midfield by Titans rookie Harry Moran, but again the offense failed to pick up a first down and were forced to punt the ball away. On Lancashire’s next drive, the Colts wideout #1, who had been guilty of 3 dropped passes in the first half, pulled off a spectacular one-handed grab and ran into the endzone for a 31 yard score. The extra point was no good, leaving the score 16-0. Again the Titans offense went 3 and out, but with Pollard out with an arm injury, James Newnes stepped in at punter and he was unable to handle the low snap and was tackled in the endzone for a safety.
Following the free kick, the Titans Defense stepped up again with sack by DE Sol Webber which led to another Lancashire punt. But despite Gannon completions to WR Nate Farrell and Currie, Manchester again had to punt the ball back to the Wolverines. 5 rushing plays later, the Wolverines scored from 6 yards out to increase the score to 24-0 as the 3rd quarter expired. Rookie Joe Pownell came in at QB to try and spark some life into the Titans offense but only managed a 6 yard completion to Farrell before the Titans were forced into a punting situation again. With Newnes now out with a hand injury, James Newman was called on to punt and another low snap meant he was forced to run 12 yards for a first down. However the referees correctly ruled that his knee had touched the ground when he had picked up the snap and the play was returned to that spot, giving the ball to Lancashire. The Wolverines failed to convert their 4th down attempt, turning the ball over on downs to Manchester but Pownell threw an interception to set up Lancashire’s final score; a one yard TD run with a successful extra point.
The Titans failed to move the ball on their last 2 drives, and the only other highlight was DB Brody Holland’s first interception to snuff out Lancashire’s last drive with the final score 31-0.
Titans standout players were Nate Farrell with 5 catches, Kieran Candon with 6 tackles, an Interception and a Fumble Recovery, Jordan Mason with some outstanding plays in a new position of LB, but GB lineman Adam Carter was named MVP by the coaching staff because of his desire and effort throughout the game.
The Juniors’ next game is away to Lancashire on May 26th.