Sunday May 21st saw the Crows host their home tournament to visiting teams Sheffield Vipers, Leeds Samurai and Mansfield Honey Badgers.
Week 3 – Conference Games
Sunday 21st May
Manchester Crows 19 – 22 Sheffield Vipers
In what is always a fun and fierce battle the Crows started the day against friends the Sheffield Vipers.
Starting on defense which had undergone a slight tweak, The Crows found themselves with a few teething problems – allowing the Vipers to catch them napping in the secondary to command an early 14-0 lead.
This lead was quickly reduced after a sack from Rob Conner lead to a turnover. QB Talha Javed managed to find James Durham for a score but failed on the extra point.
The very next possession for the Vipers lead to another turnover as Safety Dave Underwood got his first pick of the year. Again the offense would capitalise as Talha once again found Durham in the endzone and Zalan Toth converted the extra point.
Going into the second half both defenses stood strong for the majority of the game, but it would be the Vipers who managed to pull away, capitalizing on a penalty to convert a 2 point XP from the 5 yard line.
The Crows, realising time was not on their side, rallied down the field and Javed found Durham for his third score of the game, unsuccessfully attempting a 2 point conversion of their own, making it a 3 point game.
With just over a minute left the referees advised the Crows they wouldn’t have enough timeouts to avoid the Vipers from kneeling out, but defensive captain Matt Wilkinson’s better judgement told everyone to keep playing, what a call that was as the Vipers tried their luck with a deep ball that was picked by Wilkinson himself.
With little time on the clock the Crows fired off quick plays to get to the Vipers 5 yard line and have one shot at glory, but alas it was not the Crows day as the ball was placed just out of the reach of the receiver’s hand to end the game.
Manchester Crows 35 – 12 Leeds Samurai
Next up were The Crows offseason training partners, Leeds Samurai. This was a team that had narrowly missed playoffs last year and had bolstered their squad with some new GB stars.
With the Crows defense up first it seemed as if the game would be a comfortable one with Leeds going 4 and out first drive.
In fact the Crows defense would only allow one score in the first half whilst Javed’s offense scored 3 of their own with a TD to Center Phil Shanahan and another pair for Durham, all of which with accompanying extra points, including a 2 pointer for Durham.
The second half would be just as comfortable with the defence again only allowing 1 score, but adding their own scores from WRs Ronan Mcleenan and Toth, and another extra point for Shanahan.
Manchester Crows 19 – 20 Mansfield Honey Badgers
The final game would come up against Crows’ social media rivals and swagtastic “enemies” the Honey Badgers.
The Crows confidence showed in the first half as again the defense stood firm first half allowing only one score and forcing 2 turnovers with picks from Matt Wilkinson and Ronan Mcleenan after a great tip from Jake Blair.
The defensive skills where matched perfectly by the offense as Talha found Shanahan once and Durham twice in the endzone for scores. Converting only 1 of the 3 extra points would come back to haunt The Crows.
Going into the second half the momentum switched as the Honey Badgers adapted on both sides of the ball, managing to slow The Crows offense to a standstill and slowly picking apart the defense, scoring 2 more TDs and converting both of them to take the lead.
The Crows would attempt a final comeback drive but a turnover on downs would allow the Honey Badgers to run out the clock.
Final thoughts: it was a hard day for The Crows, knowing that they were capable of beating all 3 teams on the day, the 2 losses have taken the opportunity of getting first place in the MEC central out of The Crows hands.
It would appear as if the sophomore slump has hit them a year later after a successful 2016 campaign, injuries have forced both sides of the ball to change and adapt but it hasn’t happened as quickly as expected.
With only 2 more game days left in the league The Crows have to practice hard to fix the holes and make a solid playoff run.