Manchester Titans Youth @ Gateshead Senators Youth Sunday 25th April 2010
Titans season opener was a 3 hour road trip up to sunny Gateshead where the weather and the hospitality never faltered. The Titans squad was boosted by several Bolton Bulldogs players, including GB Youth call-up LB Mike Ainscow who joined when they pulled out of the league just 2 weeks ago.
The Titans won the toss and elected to received. The offense failed to pick up a first down and was forced to punt. Gateshead’s offense took the ball and almost instantly broke a long run for an apparent touchdown only for it to be called back for a penalty. But they were moving the ball down the field when DL Alex Reilly stripped the ball and returned it all the way, only for a block in the back penalty to bring it back to Gateshead’s 24 yard line.
Again the Titan’s offense failed to move the ball and a penalty pushed them back to the 30 yard line where barefoot K Matt Nelan lined up to take a 47 yard FG attempt which Gateshead managed to block.
The Titans Defense held Gateshead on the next drive with SS Ben Stokes recovering a Senators fumble. The Titans Offense took over on their 27 yard line and after a run and a sack, an 11 yard completion to WR George Warren gave the Titans a first down to end the first quarter.
The 2nd Quarter saw Titan’s QB Tom Hargreaves going backwards with sacks and penalties leading to an 4th & 40 which unsurprisingly saw the Titans punt. Gateshead’s offense moved the ball but could not find the end-zone as Manchester’s defense held firm.
Again Manchester’s offense failed to pick up a first down and a short punt gave Gateshead the ball in good field position. Gateshead’s misdirection play had the ball in the endzone but again it was called back because of a penalty but it was only a minor delay. Gateshead ran another misdirection play which resulted in the first score of the game. A successful 2 Point Conversion gave Gateshead a 8-0 lead.
Titans got the ball back just before the half-time whistle but were only able to gain 5 yards on a screen pass to WR Andy Mwailu.
Gateshead received the 3rd Quarter kick off but were unable to move the ball, so the Titans Offense took over around midfield and despite some good running from RBs Tom Higham and Matt Lomax, penalties pushed the Titans backwards and despite a 27 yard reception by Warren the Titans were forced to punt. Gateshead were unable to increase their lead and strong defense forced the Senators turn the ball over on downs on the Gateshead 32 yard line.
The Titans made a change at the beginning of the 4th Quarter bringing on former Bolton Bulldogs QB Matt Blinkhorn and he responded with a 23 yard pass to WR Dom Hayhurst to the Gateshead 9 yard line. Two plays later Blinkhorn found Hayhurst for a 14 yard TD. The 2 Point attempt was unsuccessful and the score-line remained 8-6 in favour of Gateshead.
The Titan’s special teams responded immediately when Reilly forced a fumble on the ensuing kick-off that Ross Ayeyard recovered. Unfortunately the Titans were unable to capitalise and were forced to punt. Gateshead’s offense started moving the ball down the field and made it into the Titan’s red-zone when DL Nathan Beaumont made the play of the game when he stripped the ball from the Senator’s RB and returned it 52 yards to the Senator’s 40 yard line.
Blinkhorn looked deep for Hayhurst but under-threw him leading to an interception but a roughing the passer nullified the interception. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Gateshead moved the ball all the way down to the Senator’s 15 yard line where Blinkhorn wasted no time hitting WR Christian Beaumont with the go-ahead score. The XP was blocked leaving the score at 12-8 to Manchester.
With a less than a minute to play Gateshead took to the air and a long pass completion moved the ball into Manchester territory but then LB Chi Lung “Gordon” Cheung recovered a fumble snap which allowed the Titans to run out the remaining time with 2 kneel-downs.
Final Score Manchester 12-8 Gateshead
Offense – Matt Blinkhorn
Defense – Nathan Beaumont
Special Teams – Alex Reilly