The Manchester Titans, sponsored by Manchester Printers, lost 25-22 to the Chester Romans on Sunday, despite a spirited comeback which saw them come back from being 17-0 down at half-time, taking a 22-17 lead in the fourth quarter until the Romans scored with just 5 minutes left to play.
The Titans kicked off to the Romans and Manchester’s defence led by DL Matt McCormack, held Chester’s offence without a first down, forcing a punt. However the strong winds at Salford led to a 0 yard punt and great field position for the Titans.
Manchester drove inside Chester’s 10 yard line but were forced to settle for a field goal attempt which was blocked.
Chester immediately took advantage as RB Ash Wainwright burst up the middle of the Titans Defense for a 35 yard gain. But Manchester stopped the drive and forced the Romans to settle for a 26 yard field goal and a 3-0 lead. The Titans offence starting from their own 20 yard line then drove 65 yards in 6 plays, before RB Nick Copley coughed up the ball on Chester’s 5 yard line. The Romans then went on a 10 play, 57 yard drive which resulted in a missed field goal attempt as the 1st Quarter ended.
Both teams next possessions resulted in punts, before the Titans, again starting from their 20 yard line marched the ball downfield through the running of Copley & Scott McGee to the Romans 12 yard line. From there RB Ross Profit fumbled and Chester recovered, ending another promising Titans drive. 3 plays later the Romans took advantage with QB Brad Chilvers finding Rory Mansfield over the middle, eluding Titans FS James Dean and running 73 yards to score. The extra point made it 10-0. Manchester had to punt into the wind on their next possession, giving Chester excellent field position. However the Titans defense, despite allowing the Romans into field goal range, managed to block the field goal attempt with a great effort from Dean.
Manchester’s offense was still misfiring and on the next series QB Alan Mead’s pass was intercepted giving Chester the ball back at half-way. 2 plays later Chilvers found Romans WR Mike Banks for a 39 yard TD with the extra point making the score 17-0 to the Romans at half-time.
The start of the 2nd half saw the Titans forced to punt on their first possession but then both teams exchanged turnovers – DL Rick McEwen recovering a Romans fumble but Mead giving the ball back on another interception. However McEwen stepped up again and with back to back sacks with DL Paul Welsh helped stop the Romans next possession.
Now Manchester’s offence woke up and with Copley finding room to run, the Titans drove 58 yards in 5 plays, including a 18 yard pass to WR James Newnes and a 23 yard run by Copley setting up his 7 yard TD run. The conversion failed leaving the score 17-6. Chester again drove into field range on their next possession but the kick was short.
The Titans behind the running of McGee and Copley drove 70 yards in 8 plays before Mead fooled the Romans defense with a play action pass and found WR Adam Simms wide open in the end zone for a 17 yard TD. Mead’s pass to TE Ste Kimmins for the 2 point conversion made the score 17-14 at the beginning of the 4th quarter.
An excellent kick by Ryan Newton pinned the Romans back on their own 6 yard line and after some outstanding defense by the Titans they forced a Romans punt which WR Danny Caballero returned all the way to the Chester 4 yard line. However a penalty brought the ball back to the Romans 30 but Manchester would not be denied. 4 straight runs by Copley, the last a 3 yard TD gave the Titans the lead, 20-17. McGee ran in the 2PAT making the score 22-17 with 9 minutes to play in the 4th Quarter.
The Romans then went on a 56 yard drive in 9 plays, culminating in a 4 yard TD run by RB James Tootle, with Chilvers finding Banks for the 2PAT, giving Chester the lead 25-22 with just 5 minutes to play. Starting from their own 20 yard, Mead drove the Titans down field to the Chester 31 yard line with just 2 minutes remaining in the game. But from here, the Titans started misfiring with Copley being tackled for a 5 yard loss and then Mead, under heavy pressure, passing incomplete to turnover the ball on downs. The Romans took a knee to run out the clock and escape with a narrow 25-22 victory.