Yorkshire Rams 32 Manchester Titans 20
The Yorkshire Rams gained revenge for their first defeat of the season with victory over their trans-Pennine rivals. Andrew Cheeseman‘s hat-trick will take the headlines, but offence, defence and special teams all played their part in a fine win.
Quarterback Taylor Umland hit Cheeseman for two touchdowns in the first quarter, but Manchester responded through Jamie Newnes and Lawrence Sarpong for a 13-12 half-time lead.
A 70-yard run by Daunté Wint-Angus and a third score for Cheeseman put the home side 25-13 up and though the Titans pulled one back through their prolific tight end Ste Kimmins, Wint-Angus’ second touchdown put the game to bed.
The Rams punted on their first possession but the defence forced a quick three-and-out and when the snap went awry on the Titans’ punt attempt, Charlie Gough led the chase to set the offence up on the 10-yard line. On fourth down, Umland found Cheeseman over the middle for the opening touchdown.
The pattern was repeated with a three-and-out and a poor punt, and Cheeseman this time got free in the corner of the end zone. A poor snap on the extra point left the score at 12-0.
A rare big play for the visitors saw quarterback Alan Mead run more than half the length of the field and though another fine chase by Gough kept him out of the end zone, Mead then found Newnes for the touchdown and the extra point made it 12-7.
A 40-yard score by running back Sarpong put the Titans ahead for the first time, with the extra point ruled no good after deflecting over the crossbar off a Manchester player, leaving the score 13-7.
The lead lasted only until the first play from scrimmage after half-time, which saw Wint-Angus break clear – left tackle Ross Dixon setting the edge superbly – and turn on the afterburners for a trademark long-range score. Umland’s pass to Cheeseman fell just short on the two-point try.
A holding call negated a long touchdown for Sarpong and instead it was Cheeseman who added to his tally with another catch in the corner, the two-point bid again coming up short.
Kimmins, who scored a hat-trick when these teams met in Stockport a fortnight ago, had been well covered for the most part on this occasion but found space for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, which was converted to cut the Rams’ lead to 24-20.
That set up a tense finish, with the Rams’ D and punt unit to the fore. First JP Walton bravely recovered a muffed punt, then as the Titans drove goalwards lineman Alex Saunders forced a key fumble which was recovered by linebacker Lysander Code.
The Rams punted again but this time Spencer Whybrow jarred the ball out and fellow receiver Ross Hammond dived on it, and victory was finally secured as Wint-Angus went in again before adding the two-point conversion himself to make it 32-20.
A team effort saw Christian Davies, Matt Ward-Stead and Whybrow back up Cheeseman in the receiving game, while on defence there were sacks for Steven Godward, Saunders, Sarunas Tiskus, Adam Cowley and Eoin Byrne. Walton’s efforts on special teams were matched by fellow rookies Faheem Hasan and Keimar Stuart as the Rams ground out the result.
Offensive MVP: Taylor Umland
Defensive MVP: Adam Cowley
Rookie of the Day: JP Walton
Ram of the Day: Andrew Cheeseman
(Pictures by Alex Daniel)