The Manchester Titans and Merseyside Nighthawks proved again to be inseparable as they battled to a 43-43 tie on Sunday 22nd June. Last season’s game saw the Titans take a 34-20 lead only for the Nighthawks to come back to tie, 34-34.
This year Merseyside took a 43-16 lead but Manchester came back to tie the scores 43-43 and only a blocked extra point denied the Titans victory in the final seconds.
Manchester received the opening kickoff and on their first play from scrimmage, RB Ryan Newton who had run for over 200 yards in the last game against Crewe, was hit hard and fumbled the ball which was recovered by the Nighthawks. Newton received a broken hand on the play and was out for the game. Merseyside took advantage of the good field position and scored 3 plays later for a 7-0 lead.
The Titans got the ball back and on their next possession relied on the running of RB Matt Kinsey who drove the ball down to the Merseyside 25 yard line where they were forced to settle for a 42 yard field goal by Anthony Bingham, 7-3.
The Nighthawks extended their lead with a 5 play, 60 yard drive resulting in a 2nd TD pass for QB Adrian Hodgers, 14-3.
Despite a good drive by the Titans, they failed to score on their next possession and Merseyside took over on their 15 yard line and scored a 75 yard TD on the next play for a 21-3 lead.
Manchester’s next drive resulted in another field goal attempt but this one was blocked and the Nighthawks added a 4th Touchdown to extend the lead to 29-3.
The Titans’ offense drove down to the Merseyside 10 yard line on their next possession but the field goal attempted was missed and on the Nighthawks’ next drive, Manchester’s defense finally stood up. DT Paul Welsh broke through the line and tipped Hodgers’ pass, which fell into LB Rob Bainbridge’s hands and he rumbled back down the sideline with the interception to the Merseyside 42 yard line. From there the Titans drove in 6 plays through some powerful running by RB Scott McGee, culminating in his 2 yard TD run. Bingham kicked the extra point and the half-time score was 29-10.
Merseyside had to punt and the Titans now had 4 minutes and 55 yards to score the game tying touchdown. Mead hit Newnes and Ardern Sodje to move the offense to the Nighthawks 11 yard line, but with just 30 seconds to play, the Titans were facing a 3rd & 10. But Mead found Ardern-Sodje in the endzone for his 3rd TD of the day to make the scores 43-43. The extra point was blocked, denying the Titans what would have been one of the greatest comebacks in British American Football history. Instead the two teams now have to share the record for the highest scoring tied game ever.
Earlier in the day, the Titans Junior team had taken a 14-0 half-time lead against Burnley Tornados only to fall 20-48.
All pictures courtesy of Gary Longstaff.