FCC 2019: Defending champion Saskatchewan down host Ontario to punch ticket to gold medal game
By Ameeta Vohra
Kingston, ON (July 10, 2019) – It was a long night for Ontario at the 2019 Football Canada Cup.
With big hopes and dreams to reach the gold medal game, the hosts ran into a hot and dominant Saskatchewan team who weren’t ready to relinquish the national championship.
Under the lights, Saskatchewan controlled their own destiny to defeat Ontario 23-15 at Queen’s University’s Richardson Stadium on Wednesday.
Saskatchewan will try to win back-to-back championships on Saturday July 13, 2019 at 6:00 p.m. EST against Quebec. Host Ontario will battle Alberta for the bronze medal on Saturday July 13, 2019 at 3:00 p.m. EST.
The defending champions got to work early as Ontario quarterback Keagan Hall was picked off by defensive back Dennis Berhane to allow the team to take over at the 48 yard line.
With 3:48 remaining in the first quarter, Saskatchewan got on the scoreboard as pivot Noah Pelletier connected with Carson Derksen for a touchdown reception in the end zone.
Ontario continued to have discipline issues as they took multiple procedural penalties. On the other side, Saskatchewan continued to cruise along. At the halfway mark of the second quarter, Daniel Wiebe made a spectacular over the shoulder catch to position Saskatchewan deep in Ontario territory.
However, Ontario began to show flashes of defensive brilliance making three straight defensive stops on Saskatchewan, limiting their chances to get into the end zone. It resulted in Saskatchewan settling for a 15 yard field goal by kicker Colton Tetreault to extend their lead 10-0.
It was an even longer evening for Hall as he threw an interception into the hands of linebacker Lane Novak with under three minutes left before the half.
That was the catalyst of a short drive of 15 seconds and the end result was Ryker Frank galloping into the end zone for a 25 yard touchdown.
With great offense goes great defense and special teams and Saskatchewan continued to click on all cylinders. Seth Hundeby blocked Zach Copeland’s punt return.
Saskatchewan increased their lead over Ontario as Tetreault was successful on a 30 yard field goal.
With 54 seconds left before the half, Berhane picked off Hall’s pass and got the ball to the 58 yard line.
At halftime, Saskatchewan enjoyed a 20-0 advantage over host Ontario.
Tetreault continued to excel on the field as he added a 12 yard field goal with 8:30 left in the third quarter.
Ontario would finally get going in the last minute of the frame. Looking for an open receiver on 3rd and goal, Hall winded up shuffling into the end zone for a major. Copeland’s PAT was good and Ontario keeps pace with Saskatchewan.
On the punt return, Saskatchewan opted to take a kneel in the end zone to concede a single point to Ontario.
The host team continued to pressed hard in the fourth quarter. With 6:39 left in the game, Jackson Cooling returned the ball all the way to Saskatchewan’s 50 yard line. Continuing to put together an impressive drive, Ontario was close and there was hope as Hall connected with James Preistner who was deep in Saskatchewan territory. However, Priestner drew a pass interference penalty and it killed Ontario’s drive.
Within the last minute, Ontario’s David Bazzo tallied a 21 yard major to help the team get close to Saskatchewan. Fortunate to get another chance, Ontario were looking to get another touchdown with 39.9 seconds, but Tanner Reiber intercepted a Hall pass to seal the victory for Saskatchewan.
Offensive Players of the Game were quarterbacks Noah Pelletier (Saskatchewan) and Keagan Hall (Ontario). Defensive Players of the Game were linebacker Seth Hundeby (Saskatchewan) and defensive back Isaiah Butts (Ontario).
The defending champions gave props to Ontario for providing a competitive battle and feel fortunate that their play early on propelled them to the victory, enabling them to have another chance to play for gold.
“It was a good football game for the Football Canada Cup,” commented Saskatchewan head coach Jeff Stusek. “Both the semi-finals were fantastic and they were evenly matched.
Ontario is a fantastic football team with a lot of great athletes and our players showed up in the first half. We struggled a little bit in the second half but I think it was more Ontario figuring us out a little bit so I am glad that the game ended when it did because it was close.”
For the hosts, they had a difficult time finding their rhythm early and made some key gaffes in the game but tackled the adversity as best they could right up to the final whistle.
“It was a really slow start in the first half; we were down 20-0,” Ontario head coach JP Circelli said after the game. “I think we deserved a little bit better.”
“We were moving the ball well early on and we had a couple of special teams mistakes; miscommunication when our punter thought we were faking and we weren’t. Then, we also had a punt block so that made it difficult short field for the defence. But then, I was really proud of our guys in the second half to rally the way they did and make it a one score game – to have the onside kick and really just fall a few plays short there. I was happy with their effort in the end.”
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