The Titans U17 South team got their season underway last Sunday as they traveled to Chester for the first tournament of 2017. Three games against Burnley Tornados, Titans North and Chester Romans waited on a warm and sunny day.
Titans South 25-25 Burnley Tornados
Game 1 was against Burnley and it took just 1 play for the season to come alive, QB James Gordon hitting WR Lenny Izzard deep down the side-line for the first TD of the year. Burnley hit straight back, a bad pitch had the RB scrambling for the ball but in the confusion he was able to wriggle free and go the length of the field to tie the game.
The Titans wasted no time in re-taking the lead, behind the running of Tom Jones they drove downfield and Gordon hit Izzard again from 6 yards out this time. The next Burnley drive was ended early as LB Sean Howe sacked the Burnley QB forcing a fumble and CB Matt Ellis pounced on the loose ball. Four plays later the Titans extended their lead and Gordon found Izzard for a third time to give the Titans an 18-6 lead.
Burnley came back at the start of the second half, a rolling pass from the QB found an open WR who was able to run for the score. It took just two plays, however, for the Titans to score again, as Tom Jones ran to paydirt from 22 yards out. Gordon found the open Max Gracie-Ainscough for the XP.
Burnley were not done and two quick scores tied the game. First a well-executed reverse play and then on the Titans next play a fumble was recovered and ran into the end zone to bring the scores level at 25-25. The Titans drove looking to win the game but time expired with them only 4 yards out as the season started with a tie.
Titans South 20-19 Titans North
Game 2 was the Titans Derby as the South team came up against the North. The North team started with the ball and scored on a 7 play drive. Big runs from Denis Chitokomere moved them into range before Kacper Babel ran it home from 9 yards out. The South’s first play was intercepted by Danielo Jarbath but the Titans D came out fighting, two tackles for losses from Rookie LB Gideon Blankstone stopped the North team from moving the ball.
The South’s offense then put together an 8 play drive but couldn’t convert as the South’s secondary defended three pass attempts into the end zone. The North couldn’t move the ball on their next drive; Michael Tomlin and Ryan Weaver stopping all progress. Another 8 play drive from the South’s offense this time got the TD as Gordon fired a bullet into Izzard from 12 yards out. The XP was good to Gracie-Ainscough and the South took a slender 7-6 lead into half time.
The North came out firing in the second half and looked like taking the lead only for LB Blankstone to come up with an interception just 5yards out from the end zone, on the next play Tom Jones extended the South’s lead with a 30 yard run.
Both defences stepped up again; strong play at LB from Max Le Flohic and Blankstone held the North at bay initially before a long run from Maunashe Nunurai moved them inside the 5 yard line, a TD saving tackle from Ryan Weaver proving crucial. Further plays from Weaver and then CB Nathan Webb kept out two passing plays and preserved the lead.
The North defence then came up with a big play, Danielo Jarbath stripping the ball on 2nd down setting up short yardage that QB Jack Omera took advantage of with a TD pass to Thomas Wilson.
The teams exchanged further touchdowns, the South team were able to take time off the clock with the running of Josh Webb moving them downfield before Gordon found Tom Tudor in the end zone. The XP was good to Gracie-Ainclough and the South led 20-12. Not done yet, the North hit straight back, a deep pass by Omera to Joe Cooke brought the score back to 20-19 but the South were able to close the game out for the narrow win.
Titans South 15-0 Chester Romans
Game 3 saw the South take on 2016’s divisional champs the Chester Romans.
The Titans offense started the game with an interception for the 2nd game running, however, the defence stepped up, two short gains stopped by CB Danylo Szlachetko Blackburn and Ryan Weaver were followed by a Michael Tomlin tackling the ball carrier in the backfield for a 2 yard loss before DT Ellie Partington got the first of what would be many sacks for a 10 yard loss. The offense made no mistake on their second drive, behind the blocking of Lenny Izzard, Tom Jones broke three tackles to run 26 yards into paydirt to give the Titans the lead. The D stepped up again, a huge tackle from Max Le Floris on 1st down for no gain saw Chester attempting to pass only to come up with 3 incompletions.
Chester were then gifted a great chance to score, a fumble on first down gave Chester 1st and goal only 7 yards out but once again the defence dominated. Chester were backed up 30 yards in three plays thanks to the combined efforts of Partington, Le Flohic, Weaver and Gideon Blankstone.
Both offenses traded possession with neither able to find momentum before the Titans extended their lead just before half time. QB James Gordon kept the drive alive with a 4th down pass to Max Gracie-Ainscough before the irrepressible Tom Jones broke tackles again to score from 18 yards out. The XP was good and the Titans led 13-0 at half time.
Chester started with the ball in the second half and despite being gifted a 1st down due a generous roughing the passer call on 4th down they were unable to move over half way. The efforts of Weaver, Tomlin and Blankstone at LB were too much and when forced to the air Blackburn batted down the deep pass. Ellie Partington, showing no tiredness having represented the Titan’s Women’s team in the 2017 Sapphire Series racked up another sack on 4th down to end the drive. On their first possession of the half it looked as though Jones had extended their Titans lead only for the play to be brought back due to a penalty. It wasn’t to matter, on Chester’s next play Partington got her 4th sack of the game, this time for a Safety to make the score 15-0.
The Titans switched to a two back set and the combined effort of another returning Women’s Team player Becky Bingle and one half of the Titans Smash Bros George Harvey moved the ball with some bruising running and an 8 play drive was unlucky to come up just short. The Titans D were required to make one more stop which they did to secure the shutout, conceding just 13 yards total offense as the Titans won 15-0 to sit top of the North Division after the first tournament!