The Manchester Titans Adult Contact Team finished the regular season with convincing 52-20 victory away at the Gateshead Senators. The 7-3 record should guarantee playoff action for the Titans in their first year back in Division 1, but the opponent is still to be decided as the other teams complete their season.
Manchester stopped the Senators on their first drive and on their first play, QB Alan Mead hit WR James Newnes for a 45 gain to move them into Gateshead territory. 6 plays later, RB/WR Ryan Newton, ran in from 5 yards to record his first TD of the day. The extra point was blocked leaving the score 6-0.
Gateshead hit back immediately when a misdirection play caught the Manchester defense napping and the Senators scored from 76 yards out. The Titans stopped the 2 point conversion, so the scores were tied 6-6.
A short kickoff was fielded by #64 Liam Twigg, and on the next play, Newton outran the Senators defense to score from 41 yards out. Former Titans U19 player, Ben Nuttall kicked the point after touchdown for a 13-6 lead.
A huge stop by Titans DL Matt Darwell & Mike McGougan on 4th & 1, gave Manchester the ball back and after a 9 yard run by RB Yomi Okuboyeyo, Mead found WR George Slade in the endzone from 20 yards out. The PAT was no good, but the Titans had a 19-6 lead as the 1st quarter ended.
The Senators drove down to the Titans 23 yard line but their 4th down pass fell incomplete. The Titans Offense then drove 67 yards in 10 plays, the last 13 yards on a catch by Newton who broke several tackles on a mazy run across the entire Senators defense before finding paydirt. Nuttall’s kick extended the Titans lead to 26-6.
Sacks by Titans DL Andrew Burridge, Matt McCormack and Charlie Dixon forced Gateshead to punt from close to their own goal-line on their next series, and a 22 yard return by Newnes spotted the ball on the Senators 16 yard line. 3 plays later, Mead found a wide-open Nuttall in the corner of the endzone for a 7 yard TD. The extra point was no good, leaving the score 32-6.
A good kick return by Gateshead that was only stopped by a tackle by Dixon, set up the Senators with good field position at midfield. From there they managed to put together a solid drive and scored on a QB sneak from a yard out as time expired in the first half. A successful 2PAT made the score 32-14.
Gateshead kicked off the second half, but another short kick got away from the Titans and the Senators recovered. 3 plays later, Titans LB Rob Bainbridge forced a fumble that bounced into the hands of the Senators player in the endzone for another TD. The conversion attempt was stopped but the momentum now seemed to be with the Senators as they closed the lead to 32-20.
Sensing this, Gateshead’s defense stepped up and forced the Titans to punt on their next series. With the Senators driving again, Manchester needed a big play and, as so often has been the case this season, Defensive Captain James Dean stepped up with a crucial interception which he returned 17 yards to the Senators 43. Dean’s 6th pick of the year, set up a 7 play drive which was finished off by Mead’s 20 yard TD pass to Newton. Nuttall’s kick made the score 39-20.
Now Manchester stepped up the pace and the defense forced a 3 and out but the subsequent punt rolled down to the Titans 12 yard line. However, through Mead’s passing and the running of RB Garry Maybanks, the Titans drove 78 yards in 8 plays, the final 26 yards on a play-action pass to Newnes for a 26 yard score. Nuttall 4th XP made the score 46-20 at the end of the 3rd quarter.
The under-manned Senators began to tire in the 4th quarter and again had to punt. The Titans quickly moved into the Gateshead redzone but a bizarre series of penalties wiped out a couple of potential touchdowns and in the end Manchester ended up being camped inside the Senators 20 yard line for around 11 plays. Mead eventually found Newton for his 5th TD of day and Mead’s 6th TD pass of the game and 25th of the year. A bad snap ruled out any chance of converting the touchdown leaving the score 52-20.
Gateshead drove down to Manchester’s 16 yard line in the dying minutes of the game but Titans leading tackler Ainsley Battel and Darwell came up with some key stops to force a turnover on downs. Maybanks and Newton then ran out the clock to seal the win and the Titans 7th victory of the season.
Manchester now wait to see the outcomes of the other games to find out who they will face in the playoffs.