The Titans U19 team won their second game of the season with a convincing 48-20 score line over local rivals the Merseyside Nighthawks. Despite having won their first game of the season where the Titans defence came out on top, question marks remained over the offense with only 14 points scored, this was put to bed as the Titans scored a totals of 7 touchdowns on the ground and through the air.
Merseyside chose to receive the opening kick off and despite gaining a first down on the first play from scrimmage – their only of the first half – the Titans defence quickly got on top with tackles from Ryan Weaver, Nathan Groom and Michael Tomlin. On the punt Tomlin sprang through the line and blocked the punt that Sean Howe smothered. Merseyside could then do nothing as Rueben Quinn Jr took the ball to the house from 38 yards out on the Titans first play of the day, Max Gracie Ainscough added the XP.
The second possessions followed the same pattern, this time Greg Morgan and Freddie Loach with the tackles before a 3rd down pass fell incomplete. Following the punt it was the turn of Tom Jones to run the ball home this time from 44 yards, Gracie-Ainscough with the XP giving the Titans a 14-0 lead.
Merseyside started deep following a touchback and on 1st down Sean Howe and Tomlin combined to force a fumble that Merseyside recovered. Loach on 2nd down before a big hit on 3rd down from Morgan meant progress was limited and the punt duly followed. It took 4 plays for the Titans to get to the endzone again but Jones was ruled to have fumbled the ball on the 1 yard line forwards into the endzone by the line judge who was somewhat behind play, the film disagreeing with the call. This wasn’t to matter, as two plays later Weaver sacked the Merseyside QB in the endzone for a safety as the quarter ended 16-0 to the Titans.
The next Titans drive lasted 9 plays, rookie RB Kjay Missick gained well on first down before QB Ben Miles had to find Lewis Parker for a big gain on 3rd down before running from Quinn Jr and then Parker took the ball inside the 10 yard zone where a nice play from the Titans Oline of Shaughnessy, Harvey and Doyle saw Quinn Jr walk untouched into paydirt.
Groom and Ben Neill continued the trend on defence before Merseyside punted. 5 plays later Miles found Gracie-Ainscough for a 47 yard touchdown to stretch the Titans lead to 30-0. A good kick return got Merseyside into the Titans half but they were unable to move the ball further, a huge 4th down sack from Tomlin turned the ball over on the half-way line. The next play was to see the first points for Merseyside as Miles was hit while throwing, the play ruled a fumble and Merseyside ran the ball home to make it 30-6.
Undeterred the Titans hit back with a 3 play 60 yard drive all in the air. Miles connected with Tom Morgan and then Parker twice, the second for a 16 yard touchdown to make it 36-6. Still time for one last Merseyside drive but their deep ball on the last play of the half was intercepted by Titans DB and stadium announcers favourite Danylo Szlachetko Blackburn.
Into the second half and the Titans brought Dylan Walsh in at QB the game but the result was the same as after Walsh had made a big first down gain, Jones ran the ball home from 19 yards to extend the Titans lead. Merseyside began to get some joy with their option run game on a rotated Titans D, driving 50 yards for their first offensive score of the game.
The Titans next drive stalled early, despite a good gain on the ground from Anele Hlongwane, the Titans faced 4th and 6, 49 yards from the endzone. Not in the mood to punt, the Titans special teams unit ran a perfect fake springing Jones untouched up the sideline for the final Titans TD of the day.
Merseyside hit back again, another long drive ended with a sweep into the endzone. The Titans offense looked to move the ball further, RBs Joel Mallen and Kelly Charite both ran well, Mallen having a strong day on kick return but there was to be no further score.
All photos courtesy of Chris miles
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