Because of injuries and exams, the Titans were forced to take a squad of just 20 players up to Gateshead to take on last year’s beaten finalists. However despite players having to play both offense & defense and many playing out of position, they still held a good account of themselves.
The Senators started strongly, driving 65 yards in 7 plays to score on a 9 yard TD run. A successful kick gave them a 7-0 lead. But a 60 yard return on the ensuing kickoff by the Titans’ Daniel Johnson gave Manchester great field position on Gateshead’s 30 yard line. However the Titans offense were unable to pick up a first down and turned the ball over on downs.
The two teams then exchanged punts on their next possessions before Gateshead scored a 6 yard run after an 8 play, 72 yard drive. 2 point conversion was successful making the score 15-0.
An 11 yard completion from QB Tom Hargreaves to WR James Newnes, gave Manchester their first 1st Down but they were forced to punt 3 plays later. The Titan’s defense led by leading tackler Mike Sanusi, held the Senators on their next possession and they even forced and recovered a fumble but it was ruled out due to an inadvertent whistle. The half ended with Gateshead leading 15-0.
Another excellent 40 yard kick return by Johnson gave Manchester the ball near midfield and despite some strong running by Jamie Rattigan, 2 false start penalties on the Titans forced them to punt again. Gateshead then drove down to the Titans’ 1 yard line but an excellent goal-line stand by the Titans, culminated in a 4th down stop by Johnson, assisted by Kieran Candon & Joe Moura da Luz.
However Manchester’s anaemic offense again failed to pick up a first down and the punt gave Gateshead good field position at the Titan’s 30 yard line. But the Titans’ defense again rose to the occasion with Patryk Tomaszewski’s tackle on 4th down stopping the Gateshead running back short of the first down which gave the ball back to Manchester on downs.
The Titans Offense went 3 and out and once again the Senators had great field position on Manchester’s 26 yard line, but Hargreaves sacked the Gateshead QB and then Bruce Sibanda blocked the Senators FG on 4th down. However 3 plays later, Hargreaves himself was sacked in the endzone for a safety, making the score 17-0.
Following the free kick, Gateshead went to the air but Tomaszewski intercepted and returned the ball 16 yards to the Senators 24 yard line.
2 good runs by Candon gave the Manchester a 2nd & 5 from Gateshead’s 9 yard line but on the next play Candon had the ball stripped and only a premature celebration penalty on Gateshead prevented a touchdown.
Manchester’s defense again held out as the clock ran out with Gateshead winning 17-0.
A solid performance but a fourth loss on the season. The Titans now have a 4 week break before a run of 3 home matches in 4 weeks to finish the season – next up is Lanarkshire Longhorns on Saturday July 7th.