The MEC Central looks wide open, with the Cheshire Cavaliers, Manchester Titans, Manchester Crows and Wigan Warhawks all vying for playoff positions. The Cavaliers hosted the first game-day in this ultra-competitive division, here’s how it all played out;
Manchester Titans 63, Cheshire Cavaliers 12
The first match was between the host team the Cheshire Cavaliers and the Manchester Titans. This game was decided early, as the Titans had just too much for the Cavs. Titans QB Alan Mead seemed to have an eternity to find any members of his talented crop of WRs. Mead ended up with 8 TD’s. The stingy Titans defense had 3 interceptions (2 of them by Jordan Parker), 2 safeties (1 by Jordan Parker as well, early Defensive Player of the Year candidate..). The Cavalers did manage to get 2 touchdowns in the end, both scored by Miguel Fernandez. Our game ball goes to the aforementioned Alan Mead.
Manchester Titans 40, Wigan Warhawks 34
The second matchup of the day saw the Manchester Titans going up against old teammate, Danny Caballero, and the Wigan Warhawks. The Titans were looking to even the score against Danny as they had faced him in Glasgow at Flagging new Year and came up short, losing 26-6. The Titans opened up the first half with two quick plays and a touchdown to newly added David McInally. David had formerly suited up for the Glasgow Tigers at Junior level, and later was in a star studded Kirkcaldy Bulls team. The Warhawks answered back with a touchdown to even the score. Alan Mead once again found McInally to recapture the lead. The Warhawks, lead by Dino Vernazza managed to match Alan Mead and the Titans blow for blow, as he found Chris Smith for his second TD of the game, but failed to convert the xP. The Warhawks couldn’t find an answer to David McInally, until Danny Caballero came in man up against the dangerous Titan. Mead tried to test out his old teammate by trying to hit David McInally on a fade, but Danny intercepted the pass and gave Wigan some momentum to try and keep up with the Titans quick scoring offense. At the break it was Titans 20 – Wigan 19. The second half continued with both teams going back and forth. The Titans readjusted, and went towards their other options, Jay Pitchford for another touchdown, but the extra Point was picked off and returned by Danny to set up a tense finish. The Warhawks, looking to win the game on the last drive with seconds to go, reached the 5 yard line of the Titans. However, time expired and the Titans held on for a huge victory. Our MVP for this game goes to David McInally, who accounting for 4 TDs and an extra point.
Manchester Crows 34, Cheshire Cavaliers 18
In this matchup, the Crows got off to a slow start, as they struggled early to negotiate the effective Cavaliers blitzing. They adjusted well, and after a pair of TDs each from James Durham and Craig Armitage. Remarkably, Zalan Toth caught the eyes of everyone, as he managed to block a Cavaliers XP attempt while blitzing, and returned it to the house for 2 points after flying in from Hungary that very morning! This was a routine win for the Crows, and James Durham earns our game ball with an impressive 2 TDs and 2 XPs.
Manchester Titans 45, Manchester Crows 40
In possibly the most highly anticipating matchup of the day, the two Manchester squads would battle it out, potentially to see who would take the initiative in the battle for the playoff positions. In a straight up shoot-out, both teams struggled to get stops, trading scores throughout the game. James Durham made a pivotal interception in the first half, seemingly giving the Crows the upper hand. However, due to the Titans’ Rick McEwan‘s elusive running, the Crows defence was opened up, and Alan Mead was able to capitalise. The Crows held the ball late in this game, needing a TD to edge out as winners, but they turned the ball over to the Titans who saw the game out. Rick McEwan‘s impact can’t be ignored, so he takes our game ball for this match!
Wigan Warhawks 42, Cheshire Cavaliers 28
After their disappointing loss to the Titans, the Wigan Warhawks looked to notch their first victory, as they prepared to take on the Cheshire Cavaliers. However the Cavaliers had the same plans coming off two straight losses to the teams from Manchester. Both teams scored on their first 2 possessions and it was looking like another shootout was on the cards, but with the Cavaliers stalling in their next possessions the Warhawks took advantage and took the lead and never looked back. The final scored ended Wigan 42 – Cavaliers 28 and making the final game of the between the Warhawks and Crows a fight for 2nd place. Warhawks receiver Chris Smith snagged 4 TDs and 2 XPs to win our game ball!
Manchester Crows 63, Wigan Warhawks 27
The day came to an end with both the Wigan Warhawks and the Manchester Crows at 1-1 for the day, and 2nd place up for grabs in this contest. This game seemed to be another close game as both offenses were answering the other. At halftime, the Crows lead by a score of 14 to 13 thanks to 2 TD from GB Lion Matt Wilkinson. The Warhawks continued to keep pace with the Crows in the second half, with Danny Caballero getting 2 TDs of his own before being helped off the field with an injury. That seemed to be the turning point, as the Crows kept scoring and for the Warhawks, fatigue took over. The Crows took sole possession of 2nd place with a final score of 63 – 27. Crows QB Talha Javed had an impressive outing with 9 TD passes and 7 XPs, however Matt Wilkinson was a force on both sides of the ball. His 3 receiving TDs, 2 XPs and 2 huge interceptions were key for the Crows, giving him our game ball. Elsewhere, there was an ejection in this game, however both players shook hands after the game. Huzzah!