They came, they saw… but WE conquered!

Chester Romans @ Manchester Titans 27-6-10

Titans conquer Romans 34-6.

A hot and sunny day in Manchester saw the Division 2 Central Leaders take on their old rivals, the Chester Romans. The 2-2 Romans were looking to bounce back from their last minute 7-0 loss at Lancashire, whilst the Titans were looking to extend their lead at the top of the Division.

The Titans won the toss and elected to receive. The Romans KO went out of bounds so Manchester started on their own 30 yard line. Solid running by RBs Ryan Farrell and Tim Barton saw the Titans marched 60 yards down-field in a 8 play drive with the key plays coming on 3rd down. A 16 yard reception by WR James Dean on 3rd & 6 and a 24 yard run by Barton on 3rd & 1 set up Farrell’s 1 yard TD run which he converted himself for a 7-0 lead.

Chester’s Offense went 3 & out and WR Adam Simms returned the ensuing punt 28 yards to the Manchester 43 yard line. From here the Titans Offense produced a 9 play drive culminating in a 2 yard scamper by RB Nick Copley. Farrell again kicked the XP to make the score 14-0.

On the Romans second possession they moved the ball more effectively, picking up 2 first downs before LB Hugh English picked off a Romans pass and returned it 26 yards to the Romans 29 yard line. A penalty and a dropped pass left the Titans with a tricky 3rd and 16 but QB Alan Mead found Simms with a 18 yard reception and a 1st Down. Farrell ran the ball in from 8 yards out for his 2nd TD of the game. Another successful kick gave the Titans a 21-0 lead early in the 2nd Quarter.

Once again the Chester Offense was held by the Titans defense with key tackles from DE Andy Burridge (a career-high 8 tackles) and DB Dave Barnett who also knocked down a pass to force a Romans punt.

2 penalties on Titans C Max Mitchell plus 2 dropped passes forced the Titans into punting on 4th & 25 from their own 21 yard line but Farrell’s punt travelled 69 yards into the Roman’s endzone for a touchback. The Titans’ defense again forced the Romans to punt and Manchester took over the ball on their 18 yard-line.

The drive started well with an 18 yard pass from Mead to TE Chris Heap and back to back runs of 11 and 16 by Barton moved the ball to the Romans 21 yard line but after a Farrell run, 3 straight incomplete passes turned the ball over to Chester on downs.

Once again the Titans Defence held the Romans without a first down and they were forced to punt with under a minute remaining in the 1st Half. Mead looked deep down-field to TE Tom Leonard who appeared to make a 22 yard reception but the pass was ruled incomplete when the ball came loose as he hit the ground. Worse still for the Titans was that Leonard suffered a dislocated hip from the impact, forcing last season’s Rookie of the Year out of the game and probably ending his season. With Leonard needing extensive treatment on the field the referees decided to end the 1st half at that point with the Titans leading 21-0.

The Romans started the 2nd half with a 46 yard drive to the Titans 4 yard line but again Manchester’s defense stepped up and DT Paul Welsh recovered a fumbled snap to give the Titans possession. 3 rushes by RB Ross Profit, including a 21 yard gain moved the ball out to the Titans 39 yard line. However on the next play Mead’s pass bounced off Dean’s hands and into the hands of a Romans LB who returned the ball to the Titans 21 yard line.

But on their 2nd play, GB International Graham Roberts stepped in front of a Romans pass and made a crucial interception. Manchester moved the ball through RBs Profit and Niall Sweeney and a 6 yard reception from WR Rik Lowthion but 2 questionable calls by the officials forced the Titans to punt. On 3rd & 1, Mead’s hard-count clearly drew the Romans D-Line offside, yet the referees ruled it a false start on the Titans O-Line. Then on 3rd & 6 Mead threw again to Lowthion who was taken down by a Chester DB before he could attempt to catch the ball.

On the Roman’s next possession, great plays by Titans DBs Barnett and Martin Fitzpatrick knocking down a Chester pass each, forced a Romans punt. An excellent kick pinned the Titans on their own 4 yard line at the end of the 3rd Quarter. Strong running from Farrell moved the ball to the Titans 13 when he broke a big gain of 57 yards but was brought back because of a penalty. Farrell injured his knee on the play and was replaced by Copley who ran for gains of 7 and 11 yards before fumbling and giving the ball back to the Romans.

Strong defence by the Titans again forced Chester into a punting situation. Unfortunately for the Romans the snap flew over the punter’s head and was recovered on the Romans 17 yard-line by DE Matt McCormack. Mead wasted no time and on the next play hit Simms for a 17 yard TD pass that split the Romans defense. Backup Kicker Barnett kicked the extra point for a 28-0 lead.

Barnett’s excellent kick had the Romans returner chasing back to his own goal-line but an excellent return was only stopped by the last ditch tackle by Barnett and Fitzpatrick on the Titans 19 yard line. From here the Romans managed to score their first TD when 3 plays later their QB was adjudged to have scored on a 6 yard run. Veteran LB, and leading tackler, Sandy Kyriacou prevented the 2 point conversion attempt leaving the score at 28-6.

Following the kick-off, the Titans started with the ball on their 30 yard-line and powerful running from Barton moved ball down to the Romans 31 yard-line where Manchester faced a 3rd & 3. Mead hit Simms with a quick screen pass that should have been enough for a first down but, following a great block by Heap, Simms took off down the sideline, eluding 2 Romans for a 31 yard score. A bad snap denied Barnett the chance of the XP making the score 34-6.

Another excellent kick by Barnett pinned Chester at their own 5 yard line and the Titans thought they had recorded a safety when LB Phil Fitzpatrick tackled the Romans WR on a reverse in the endzone. But the LB was penalised for a facemask and the Romans were given a first down. But on their final possession Chester turned the ball over on downs when a 4th Down pass sailed out of bounds, leaving the Titans to simply take a knee to end the game.

The 4-0 Manchester Titans’ next game is the return match against Romans on July 11th in Chester.