Match Report – Manchester Titans Juniors at Leeds Varsity Bobcats
Sunday 8th May 2011
The Titans opened their season with an away fixture to Leeds who had qualified for the playoffs last season with 2 victories over Manchester.
With several players joining this week from the now defunct Bobcats, there was little time for them to get acquainted with their new team-mates but Coaches Murdoch and Stretch did a get job integrating them into the team so all players got game-time.
The Titans won the toss and elected to receive and on the first play from scrimmage RB Roger Assifuah broke free for an 18 yard gain. Despite QB Luke Carlton leading the Titans on a 31 yard drive, a dropped pass and then a catch made out of boards forced Manchester to punt.
On Leeds first play from scrimmage, LB Jamie Rattigan burst into the backfield to sack the Leeds QB. Despite this start, Leeds managed to drive 60 yards, converting a 3rd & 23 and a 3rd & 16, to score on a TD pass from 13 yards out. But the 2 point conversion was snuffed out by Rattigan forcing and recovering a fumble.
On Manchester’s next series Carlton’s pass was tipped and intercepted ending the 1st quarter. Leeds drove 59 yards in 8 plays for their 2nd touchdown, this time a 5 yard run but an incomplete pass on the point after left the score at 12-0.
Carlton hit WR Alex Hamer for 16 yards over the middle to move the chains on the Titans next series but on 3rd and 17, the Titan’s QB pass was intercepted. The Bobcats need only 2 plays to score, with their star receiver running in his 2nd TD catch from 32 yards out. DB George Warren stopped the 2PAT with a fine solo tackle.
With an injury to Assifuah, RB Oliver Bryan stepped up and took the bulk of the offensive carries and had a good 11 yard run to move the ball to the Titans 36 but on 4th & 5, Manchester was forced to punt the ball back to Leeds.
With only seconds left in the 1st half, Leeds moved down to the Titans 25 yard line but they fumbled the ball and DL Jonathan Gago, with the opportunity to pick the ball up and run it back for a touchdown, kicked the ball and the refs blew the whistle to end the half with the score 18-0 in Leeds favour.
Leeds opened the 3rd quarter with a 70 yard TD drive, which was nearly halted by LB James Johnson who just failed to hang onto a difficult interception chance. The extra point was again stopped by the Titans Defense leaving the score 24-0 to Leeds.
Manchester offense again turned the ball over, with Carlton’s 3rd pick of the game. But the Titans Defense was starting to find it’s feet and shutout the Bobcats offense for the rest of the game. Big plays like a sack by LB Tom Higham, and strong tackling by DL Lee Bailey and Gago forced Leeds to punt to end the 3rd quarter.
However, penalties, dropped passes and another tipped pass interception ended the Titans next drive prematurely. But again the defense stepped up forcing Leeds to turn the ball over on downs after just 4 plays, thanks to tackles for losses by DB Aaron Chambers & Higham, a sack by Bailey and QB pressure by Higham and DL Luke Kershaw.
Manchester struggled to move the ball effectively but the Bobcats lack of discipline gave the Titans 3 First Downs through penalties and left the Titans facing a 4th & 10 from the Bobcats 12 yard line. Carlton found a wide open WR Matt Nelan but he dropped the pass in the endzone which seemed to be the Titans last opportunity to score.
But LB Mike Sanusi recovered a fumbled Leeds snap to give the Titans once last chance. 2 plays later Carlton hit WR James Newnes with a 15 yard TD reception as time expired. The final score was Leeds 24-6 Manchester.
Offense – James Newnes, consistently good routes and downfield blocking on running plays. Plus a TD on his debut.
Defense – Lee Bailey, played like he really meant it. One of the leading tacklers and always around the ball.
Special Teams – Adam Carter, great kick return for a lineman.