A heavily under-manned Senators team travelled down from the North East to the sunshine at AJ Bell Stadium with hopes of getting their season back on track after losses to Yorkshire, Edinburgh and West Coast. The Titans however, were not in a generous mood, and coming off a good 25-8 win against Yorkshire last week, were keen to take advantage of the Gateshead team.
Manchester received the opening kick off and drove 55 yards in 11 plays through some hard-nosed running by RB Jonathan Pan Gago before TE Ste Kimmins reeled in an 11 yard Touchdown pass from QB Alan Mead for a 6-0 lead. The Titans defense forced the Senators to go 3 and Out and Ainsley Battel returned the punt to the Manchester 40.
This time, with RB Adim Irozuru and Garry Maybanks, the offense drove 50 yards in 6 plays, with Maybanks finishing the drive off with a 5 yard run with some great blocking from OL Liam Twigg & Rick McEwen. Ben Nuttall added the extra point to extend the lead to 13-0.
Again the Titans Defense forced Gateshead to punt but a great return by Marek Kurcharski was called back by a block in the back penalty. The 1st Quarter ended with Manchester driving again, and 2 plays later Mead hit WR Ross Murison on a short route that the receiver turned into a 30 yard TD. Nuttall’s kick made the score 20-0.
Both teams had to punt on their next possessions but Gateshead managed to pick up their 1st First Down on their next series, although it was quickly stopped when DE Andy Burridge added another QB sack to his collection. With just 2 minutes remaining in the half, the Titans moved the ball quickly through the air with passes of 20 yards to WR George Slade and then 16 yards to Kimmins for his 2nd TD of the game making the score 26-0.
An interception by DB Battel snuffed out the Senators last chance of scoring in the first half as the Titans ran out the clock.
Despite a poor decision to run the ball out of their endzone on the 2nd half kick off, Gateshead managed to put together their best drive of the game, moving to the Titans 26 yard line in 10 plays. But Defensive Captain James Dean picked off Gateshead’s QB and ran it back 27 yards. 5 plays later, WR/RB David Blake, pressed into duty because of injuries to the other RBs, scored on a 14 yard TD run. The Titans lead was now 32-0.
After Manchester’s Defense again forced another punt, Battel set up the Titans offense with a 27 yard punt return. 6 plays later, former U19s player Blake added his 2nd TD hitting pay dirt from 5 yards out, with Nuttall extending the Titans lead to 39 with his kick.
On the next drive, LB Adam Newton recorded the 3rd Titans turnover of the day when he recovered a fumble on the Gateshead 12 yard line. After a quick pass to rookie WR Ryan Leighton, Mead added his 4th TD pass of the day with a 6 yard throw to TE Nuttall, who converted the score himself for a 46-0 scoreline.
As soon as the score went over 35 points, the rolling clock came into force. That combined with the 12 minute quarters due to Gateshead’s number of players meant the 2nd half finished soon after that but not before DE Matt McCormack recorded a QB sack.
The final score was Manchester 46-0 Gateshead and the Titans now look forward to the crucial trip to John Charles Stadium in Leeds to take on the Yorkshire Rams.
Picture courtesy of Gary Longstaff