On what was the hottest day of the year, with temperatures over 30 degrees celcius, the Manchester Titans had their longest road trip of the regular season to play the Leicester Falcons.
Despite beating the Falcons comfortably 60-0 at Salford in the 2nd game of the season, the team knew not to take their opponents lightly. The Titans won the toss and elected to receive, but a fumble by RB Niall Sweeney forced Manchester to punt on their first possession.
However the Titans Defense, whether due to the intense heat or due to the fact that each of the games is like a playoff game, played like they were on fire. With LB John Ainscow and DE Matt McCormack combining for a sack and pass deflections by DE Andy Burridge and DT Erivaldo Guimaraes, the Falcons promising drive was forced into a punting situation. A directional kick into the corner meant the Titans would have to start from their own 10 yard line.
But Manchester drove 80 yards in 9 plays, mainly through the air, with completions from QB Alan Mead to 5 different WRs Will Kinghorn, Carlo Richards, Danny Caballero, Matt Borthwick and Steve Spence,who unfortunately broke his collar-bone after making a 26 yard catch. The last pass was to Caballero, a 7 yard TD catch on 4th and 4 for the first points of the game. Alex Reilly added the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
Quarterback sacks by Ainscow and Burridge forced another Leicester punt and the end of the 3rd quarter. A 15 yard run by RB Nick Copley was brought back due to a holding penalty but the Titans picked up an automatic first down following a face-mask penalty on the next play. Then Copley ran 38 yards and was dragged down by a horse-collar tackle, adding another 10 to the play. Manchester finished the 64 yard drive with 2 more Copley runs, the latter from 5 yards for the score. The XP was missed making the score 34-0.
On Leicester’s last drive they managed to make it to Manchester’s 35 yard line but their 4th down pass fell incomplete. This gave Titans backup QB Nigel Weston the chance to take over the reins of the Offense, and with runs by Sweeney (including a 17 yarder) and Matt Brown and a 4 yard completion to TE Jon Homer, he drove the ball deep into Leicester territory as time expired.
Thanks to a great job by Matt Kinsey and Phil Howle who were on waterboy duty for the game, all of the Titans players managed to stay hydrated. Leicester awarded QB Alan Mead their opposition MVP award for his 3 TDs passing and 1 TD rushing. This was Manchester’s first of 3 away games in as many weeks. Next week they travel to Crewe to face the Railroaders.
All pictures courtesy of Rob Campion – full gallery available here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rambler77/sets/72157634626803915/