Sheffield Predators become the prey!

Manchester Titans at Sheffield Predators 18/7/10

The BAFA CL Division 2 Central Leaders, Manchester Titans defeated the Sheffield Predators 43-6 through some tough defense plus some big plays from WR Adam Simms (7 catches for 120 yards) and RB Nick Copley (104 yards rushing and 3 TDs).

Manchester held Sheffield’s offense to 7 yards for the first half and just 58 yards for the entire game with LB John Flynn and SS Graham Roberts leading the team with 9 tackles each.

Meanwhile the Titan’s prolific offense racked up 357 yards and 43 points as they moved to 6 & 0.

Unusually the Titans lost the coin toss and Sheffield elect to receive but GB international Roberts intercepted a Predators pass on just the 3rd play from scrimmage. This gave Manchester excellent field position, starting from the Sheffield 16 yard line, but 2 rushes and an incomplete pass had left the Titans with a difficult 4th and 8. But QB Alan Mead hit TE Chris Heap with a 14 yard TD pass which was converted by Dave Barnett for a 7-0 lead.

Things didn’t get any better for the rookie Predators on their next series. Starting from their own 11 yard line, a false start penalty pushed them back even further and their QB was pressured by DE Andy Burridge into a intentional grounding penalty in the endzone which resulted in a safety.

The Titans offense then took over after the ensuing kick and drove down to the Predators 4 yard line but a fumbled pitch on 3rd down forced a 32 yard field goal which was missed.

Sheffield took over on their 20 yard line. Roberts knocked down another Predators pass but DT Kyle Kilroy sustained a knee ligament injury on the play that will put him out for the next 6 weeks. The Titans defense continued to put pressure on the Sheffield QB and on 3rd & 10 Flynn and DE Neil Cash combined for a sack forcing a Sheffield punt.

With Mead suffering from blurred vision, backup QB Rik Lowthion stepped in and led the Titans offense on a 52 yard drive which featured 3 receptions by Simms including one on 4th down and culminated in a 10 yard Copley TD run. Barnett kicked the extra point as time expired in the quarter with the Titans up 16-0.

On the very next play DB Martin Fitzpatrick forced a fumble by the Predators kick returner, which was recovered by LB Hugh English. The drive seemed to have stalled on 4th and 7 but Mead returned to hit Simms with a 22 yard pass to set up 1st and Goal from the Sheffield 9 yard line. 2 plays later Copley ran the ball in from 9 yards out and a 22-0 lead.

A good return on the ensuing kick off meant the Predators would start from their 35 yard line and on 3rd and 4 from their 41 a blown coverage resulted in a 49 yard TD pass. The extra point was no good and the score was 22-6.

However Manchester came right back with a 5 play, 72 yard drive, the highlights being a 35 yard catch & run by Simms and a 19 yard TD run by Copley for his hat-trick. RB Ross Profit ran in the 2 point attempt to extend the Titans’ lead to 30-6.

Sheffield’s next possession ended in a punt following a sack by DE Matt McCormack and with Manchester taking over on their 24 yard line, Mead was sacked for the first time all season. A 2nd sack followed shortly afterwards and the Titans were forced to punt.

The Predators picked up their first First Down of the game with just seconds to go in the 1st half before back-to-back sacks by Andrew Burridge left the Predators with a 4th & 41 which forced them to punt. Manchester then ran out the clock to end the half.

Manchester’s offense opened the 2nd half with a 67 yard drive with passes from Mead to Simms (22 yards), Heap (24 yards) and finally Lowthion for a 20 yard TD which Barnett converted for a 37-6 lead.

The Predators picked up their 2nd First Down when they converted a 4th & 2 on their next possession but a sack and a forced fumble by Burridge plus some solid tackling by LBs Flynn and Sandy Kyriacou eventually forced another punt.

The Titans then started a drive from their 36 yard line with a 9 yard reception by WR James Dean and a 18 yard run by Copley. FB Niall Sweeney got in on the action with a 17 yard run before RB Tim Barton scored his first TD of the season from 2 yards out. The PAT was missed leaving the score at 43-6.

A promising Sheffield drive was snuffed out by DT Paul Welsh & DE McCormack combining for a sack on 4th and 8 from the Titans 42 yard line. Titans Rookie receiver Ben Barker made his first ever reception on the Titans next drive but pressure from the Predators forced a tipped Mead pass to be intercepted with the Titans driving for another score.

By now the Titans pass rush were pinning their ears back and going all out on the Sheffield QB, opening up some rushing lanes but they only managed to pick up 9 yards on their next drive and were again forced to punt. With the game safely in hand the Titans attempted to run out the clock but a key missed block meant that Barton was tackled for a loss and forced the Titans into their just their 2nd punt of the game.

Once again Manchester’s defense were too much for the Predators offense and their pass on 4th & 4 fell incomplete allowing the Titans to take a knee to end the game.

With the Titans still awaiting official league notification of the postponed Hull fixture, the 6 & 0 Titans travel to Stoke next Sunday to play their 3rd consecutive away game against the 3 & 3 Staffordshire Surge. A victory plus confirmation of Hull’s forfeit could see the Titans qualify for the playoffs.

Photo by David Paterson –