Manchester Titans Youth @ Leeds Varsity Bobcats @ 26/6/10
Manchester made the short trip across the Pennines for the return fixture with the Leeds Varsity Bobcats. The Titans were at the short end of a controversial call on a potential game-winning TD catch in the home fixture and felt confident they would overcome the Division Leaders this time.
The Bobcats won the toss elected to receive. On the very first play from scrimmage the Leeds RB broke a couple of tackles and took the ball 60 yards to score. The XP was blocked giving Leeds a 6-0 lead.
The Titans Offence went 3 & out but a good punt by Matt Nelan and a couple of Leeds penalties pushed them back to their 8 yard line. The Titans defence forced a punt and the Titans were looking at getting the ball at decent field position but the short punt hit returner George Warren’s leg and Leeds recovered the muffed punt on their 43 yard line.
With the aid of a couple penalties on the Titans, Leeds drove to the Manchester 10 yard line where they faced a 4th & 1. But DT Alex Reilly fought through the line to tackle the Bobcats RB for a loss of 3.
A pair of 4 yard runs by FB Ste McGrath and RB Tom Higham left the Titans next drive with a 3rd & 2, on which the Bobcats stopped Higham for only a yard forcing another Nelan punt. On Leeds first play from scrimmage the Leeds QB found his favourite target #88 over the middle and a missed tackle by FS Ben Howarth led to a 52 yard TD pass. The XP was missed, wide left, leaving the score at 12-0 as the 1st Quarter ended.
Following a Higham run, Titans QB Matt Blinkhorn unleashed a bomb down the right sideline which WR Warren caught in stride and was on his way to a 75 yard TD when disaster struck. The ball popped loose as he was running and Leeds recovered on their 41 yard line.
Leeds drove the ball down to the Manchester 2 yard line but a TD run was called back for holding. The Titans forced a FG which the Bobcats missed, again wide left. Manchester took over the ball on their 20 yard line and Blinkhorn hit TE Shane Mageean with a 10 yard pass to bring up a first down. Higham ran for 10 yards and another first down and the Titans seemed to be driving.
But again they managed to shoot themselves in the foot when back-to-back holding and false start penalties and then the subsequent sack of Blinkhorn left them with a 3rd & 37. Blinkhorn looked deep towards new WR Alex Hamer and it looked like a perfect pass until the wind caused the ball to hang up a little and Leeds’ #88, coming in as a DB, stretched out and picked off the pass.
However Leeds were unable to capitalise and the half ended 12-0 to the Bobcats.
Manchester received the ball in the 2nd half and tried out a new Double Tight Formation, designed to aid the running game. It worked as the Titans utilising the power running of Alex Reilly and Ste McGrath picked up 2 first downs on a nine play drive. However a false start penalty forced the Titans into a 3rd and long which resulted in an incomplete pass and another punt.
Leeds drove the ball from their own 39 yard line until they faced a 4th and 12 at the Titans 16 yard line. From here their QB again broke containment and got outside the pocket and found #88 for another touchdown. The Leeds kicker finally found the target and converted the extra point making the scoreline 20-0.
Another sack forced another 3 & out for the Titans but on the next Bobcat possession, LB Thiago Barbosa intercepted a screen pass and returned the ball 46 yards to the Leeds 10 yard line. A reverse by Warren gained 8 yards and set up a 2 yard run by Reilly for the Titans score. Nelan’s extra point attempt was blocked leaving the score at 20-6.
An onside kick attempt was unsuccessful but the Titans Defense again forced a turnover with rookie DB Jack Brymer recovering a Bobcat fumble. A 17 yard run by Higham and a 12 yard reception by Warren moved the ball deep into Leeds territory but a dropped pass by Warren on 4th down ended the drive on the Leeds 23 yard line and with it Manchester’s chance of getting back into the game.
With 6 minutes remaining Leeds drove the length of the field for the game-clinching touchdown and a successful XP making the score 28-6.
With less than 2 minutes to play the Titans had one last chance to score as Blinkhorn completed passes to Hamer for 10 yards and a one-handed catch by Warren for 22 yards, combined with a late hit and unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, moved the ball into the Leeds red-zone. However 2 incompletions and the sixth sack of the day on Blinkhorn as time expired ensured the final score of 28-6 to Leeds.
Offence: Adam Barnett, Centre – anchored a much improved line.
Defence: Sam Nisbett CB – joint-leading tackler with 8 tackles.
Special Teams: Matt Nelan, solid punting all day long.