Manchester Titans were crowned the NFC1 North Division Champions followed a 42-21 win over the Yorkshire Rams at the National Speedway Stadium.
The Titans managed to get revenge on a Rams side that had beaten them two weeks prior with a performance that saw the offense return to the high scoring standards fans have come to expect.
The offense got off to a fast start, driving 55 yards on the opening drive with running back Ryan Newton squeezing home on fourth down for the first score of the game.
Yorkshire’s retaliation was swift and decisive on a long 14-play drive to give the Rams an early 7-6 lead.
Yorkshire managed to turn the ball over on the Titans next drive and pushed their lead to 13-6 shortly after. However, the Titans managed to swing momentum back on their side on the extra point, with Lee Horrocks blocking the kick and Ryan Allen scooping to take the ball the length of the field for a Titans two points.
George Slade’s huge kick return gave the Titans offense great field position and they duly capitalised. Quarterback Sam Bloomfield lofted a rainbow over an outstretch Rams defender to find James Newnes for the receiver’s 10th touchdown of the season.
Yorkshire threatened again immediately after, but their red zone opportunity fell short and into the opportunistic arms of Dave Barnett, who returned the interception into Yorkshire territory.
With the game on a knife-edge, the Titans defense continued to step up. As the Rams scrambled out of the pocket, linebacker James Allen ripped the ball free and recovered the ball for the defenses second consecutive turnover.
This time, the Titans offense made the Rams pay. On the 11th play of the drive, the Rams defense were fooled by misdirection as Ryan Newton found his way into the corner of the end zone to push the score to 22-13.
The Titans soon took over the game. After a quick Yorkshire drive ended after four plays, the Titans only needed one to build their lead. Bloomfield found U19s graduate James Newnes once again on a deep bomb.
Manchester’s 29-13 lead at the half was made even larger coming out of the second half. After a long 11-play Rams drive stalled in the Titans red zone, the Titans only needed five plays to go 69 yards for their fifth touchdown. Bloomfield found Jonatan Pan Gago, who celebrated coming back from injury and a call up to the Spanish National Team in style.
A defiant Yorkshire kept battling and scored again on the ensuing drive to keep the score close. But even at 36-21, the Rams struggled to keep the comeback alive against a rampant Titans defensive line, who caused havoc all day.
The defense’s day was sealed deep in the fourth quarter, with James Dean picking off a deep pass on fourth down to halt any Yorkshire resurgence.
The Titans offense weren’t finished, remaining determined to score more points on an in-form Rams defense. Following strong running from Pan Gago, Bloomfield pitched to Ryan Newton to complete a hat trick of touchdowns, pushing the all-everything Newton to eight touchdowns on the season.
After wrapping up the NFC 1 Division Championship, Coach Pete Birds’ side turn their attention to the Newcastle Vikings this Sunday, where a strong defensive performance could help ensure home field advantage throughout the playoffs.