Manchester Titans Youth @ Lanarkshire Longhorns 22/8/10
The Manchester Titans Youth team made the long journey up to Scotland to complete their first season in the BAFA Youth League. Unfortunately, once again the Titans were forced to field an under-strength team of just 19 players with many having to play both offense and defense. Despite this the players performed admirably in what would be their last game of season, and for many their last game in Youth Football.
The Longhorns received the opening kickoff and despite a sack by Jamie Kenyon, drove 61 yards to score but a high snap allowed the Titan’s defense to swarm the kicker and prevent the conversion.
6-0 to the home side.
Titans Kick Returner Toby Kane slipped on the ensuing kick-off, forcing Manchester to start from their 7 yard line. But a 13 yard scramble by QB Matt Blinkhorn and a 6 yard catch by Kane on 3rd down got the Titans offense moving. An 8 yard run by Alex Reilly picked up another Manchester first down but Blinkhorn was sacked and fumbled but the ball was alertly recovered by Mike Ainscow. However a pass to TE Matt Nelan on 3rd & 14 was overthrown and the Titans were forced to punt.
Manchester’s defense forced Lanarkshire to punt on their next possession to end the 1st Quarter.
Blinkhorn’s 16 yard run moved the ball into Longhorn territory, but an intentional grounding penalty and an incomplete pass meant the Titans had to punt again. But the Manchester defense stepped up again and a 3rd down sack by Reilly led to a Longhorns punt.
Both teams punted on their next possession and at the 2 minute warning a penalty gave the Titans the ball on the Longhorns 47 yard line. However, Blinkhorn’s pitch was behind RB Tom Higham and Lanarkshire recovered.
With CB Marcus Cobb shutting down the Longhorns top receiver, #86, Lanarkshire were forced to find another target, which they did finding their TE with a 19 yard pass on 3rd and 17 and a 12 yard catch over the middle for a TD. The XP was good and the score was 14-0.
The 2nd half started with an 11 yard run by Higham that would have picked up a first down only to be called back for penalty and the Titans were forced to punt. Both teams exchanged punts to end the 3rd quarter.
On their first drive of the 4th Quarter the Longhorns QB was sacked again by Reilly who forced a fumble that Lee Bailey recovered to give Manchester possession on their 36 yard line. Down by 2 scores in the fourth quarter, the Titans gambled on 4th down but Blinkhorn’s pass was tipped and fell incomplete.
Two plays later the Titans defense stepped up again and Ainscow forced a fumble that Adam Carter recovered to give the Titans another chance. But the Longhorn’s Middle Linebacker made a leaping catch of Blinkhorn’s pass to Nelan. The Longhorn’s made the Titans pay for the mistake with their TD catching his 2nd TD pass of the game. Nelan made an excellent individual effort to block the extra point leaving the score at 20-0.
At the two minute warning Manchester’s offense had one last chance for a consolation score but a dropped pass by Kane on 4th down gave the ball back to Lanarkshire.
The Longhorn’s then added a final score as time expired to finish up 26-0 winners.
Defensive Co-ordinator Allan Murdoch set 3 goals for the team at the beginning of the season – to win a game, get a defensive shut-out and to complete the season by playing in all games. Goal one was achieved against Gateshead at the beginning of the season. Goal 2 was achieved in the Pre-Season Spring Bowl Tournament and Goal 3 was completed by playing against Lanarkshire.
So despite a record of 1-7, the Titans completed a successful first season of Youth football and look forward on building for next season. With rookie-camps planned for October, the Titans will be looking at recruiting some new players for next season.