Xplosion for those who don't know is the biggest game in the Uni-ball calendar and possibly the entirety of British football. Although its normally the Birmingham Lions opening home and as such is usually not an important game it still attracts crowds bigger than anywhere in Britball. Every year 2000 - 3000 fans descend on Birmingham to watch Xplosion, this event is live streamed online and watched by many at home as well. The night is capped off with a huge fireworks display.
This year the Titans were the scheduled Xplosion opponent and we couldn't have been more excited. This was the biggest game in Titans history, we have played in finals before but never in front of a crowd this large. The game was also an exciting encounter as going into it we both stood joint top of the division so it was a very important game. We knew this game was going to be tough as Birmingham are a strong team and at Xplosion they have only lost once in 10 years.
The Titans started slowly allowing Birmingham to score on their first d
rive and even worse we lost defensive lineman Macarius Howard and safety Ben Cooze to knee injuries. The Titans were able to shake off the early jitters and hit straight back with a beautiful 48 yards running touchdown by Canice Gonzague. This took the game to 8-6 to the Lions. Both defences then began to dominate game after their shaky starts shutting down either offences with Titans defensive captain Gethyn Chadwick flying into tackles and adding another interception to his collection. Finally, the Titans offence broke through the Birmingham defence for the second time. This time going through the air with Huxtable breaking a tackle to refuse Birmingham a sack then rolling to his right and looping the ball to the safe hands of Elliot Bodman at the back of the end zone. This is the fourth time they have teamed up for a touchdown, this partnership is developing into an extremely dangerous offensive weapon for the Titans. The score at the half was 12-8 to the Titans.
The second half carried on in the vein of the first with the defences dominating and preventing any offensive momentum from both sides. Achiga Binyiri gaining a couple of tackles for losses and had a certain interception ruled out. This was rectified in the very next play after a brilliant pick and run by Safety Peter Doyle. The Titans defence thought they had scored after what looked like a forced fumble by Ike Amuze was collected by Daryl Tan and taken to the end zone but the referees called the play dead to the surprise of everyone. Injuries to slot receiver Lewis Marshall meant that rookie Will Luck was called in for much of the second half. There were a few bright sparks in the Titans offence with Hux connecting with Dan Marshall a few times to save us on deep third downs plays. Also, some inspired running by Canice in a game where yards on the ground were difficult to come by.
The moment of the match came early in the fourth quarter when Michael Waddington a player who last year was our 5th string QB starting in his first competitive game at receiver with his first ever career catch scored what turned out to be the game winning touchdown. This along with the 2 points from Dan Marshall extended the Titans lead to 20-8. The game looked like it was now out of sight but Birmingham found a new level of confidence and quickly struck back with another score of their own bringing the score to 20-16.
The lions defence with just over a minute to go forced the Titans offence to punt giving the Birmingham offence one last drive to win the game. Important tackles by Harry Calton and Tom Pennington kept the clock rolling and a tackle for loss by Sam Huxtable who was put in at weak end to use his speed to pressure Birmingham in the back field left Birmingham with little time left. After a good pass up the middle the Birmingham receiver was tackled in bounds by Daryl Tan to leave Birmingham with one final play. The Titans defence ready for a long pass were surprised when Birmingham ran the ball but were quickly able to wrap up the running back and watch the clock tick to zero. Titans win 20-16 and join Bath Killer Bees in the club of team to win at Xplosion.
Offensive: Daniel Marshall
Defensive: Gethyn Chadwick
Rookie: Piers Jensen
You can watch the full game here on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/GuildTelevision/videos/725295421167072/