FCC2017: Late defensive stand powers Saskatchewan to gold medal game
For the second consecutive year, Saskatchewan will play for gold.
On Tuesday, the team edged Ontario 11-9 at the 2017 Football Canada Cup in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. It was a rematch of the 2016 semi-final.
Saskatchewan advances to the gold medal game where they will tangle with Quebec on Friday July 14th at 7:00pm AT. Ontario will vie for the bronze medal against Alberta on the same day at 4:00pm AT.
In the first half of the game, both offences had their share of challenges, especially with their passing games. Saskatchewan was not able to get into a groove and find rhythm. Ontario kept on feeling pressure from the opposing team’s defence.
Furthermore, Ontario took several penalties in the first half which ate up close to 200 yards.
Emmett Steadman opened the scoring in the first quarter when he added a 14 yard field goal.
At halftime, Saskatchewan held a narrow 5-0 lead after Steadman had a couple of rouges.
Brian Garrity was on fire in the second half as he added two field goals (19, 30 yards) to give Ontario the lead.
However, Saskatchewan responded by scoring the first touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter as Josh Donnelly connected with Bennett Stusek for a 28 yard touchdown pass.
in the fourth quarter, Garrity added his third field goal of the game – a 22 yard attempt.
With 14.4 seconds left in the game, Ontario had one last chance to score and earn a chance in the gold medal game. However, Saskatchewan’s defence came through, forcing quarterback Ethan Martin to fumble the ball which resulted in a turnover.
Players of the Game for Saskatchewan were REC Bennett Stusek (offence) and LB Joshua White (defence). Ontario Players of the Game were RB Keon Edwards (offence) and DL Christian Fecteau (defence).
Saskatchewan was lucky to escape with the win.
“We know Ontario; we played them last year in the exact same game so we know what they bring and the intensity and how well they are coached,” commented Saskatchewan Head Coach Sheldon Gray. “It was good for our guys to come out and fight and hang in with them.”
In his assessment of the team’s performance, Gray was pleased with the performance of defence and special teams but felt the offence needs to make improvements before the gold medal game.
“Special teams were huge – whenever you can get the ball back on special teams that’s huge and that’s a key to victory,” he evaluated. “Defensively, we stopped them when we had to.”
“Our offence needed to put first downs together and when we needed a touchdown, we got a touchdown. We just did enough to win. We need to execute a lot better and play better against Quebec but we have two days to work on that.”
Meanwhile, Ontario was heartbroken by the outcome of the game.
“We battled until the end and it came right down to the end of the game,” said Ontario Head Coach Glen Mills. We’re disappointed with some of the penalties we took.”
“We took some penalties that hurt us. When we are playing a good football team, we can’t do that. Hats off to those guys, they capitalized and we just have to be better.”
Overall, Ontario amassed 14 penalties for 238 yards in this game.
“We talked heavily about it after our first game,” he added. “We have some guys that don’t understand that this is a team game and that they need to be more disciplined.”
“We’re going to address it again and maybe those guys that can’t control it just have to watch. It just can’t continue.”
Despite the loss, there were some positives Ontario took from the game as they prepare to play for bronze on Friday.
“The fact that we battled again right to the very end is a tremendous positive,” Mills expressed. “If we can just clean up the foolish mistakes, penalties and just put in the effort.”
“We’re a good football team. Right now, we are hurting ourselves. I don’t know if teams are beating us or if more so, we are beating ourselves.”
This post is also available in: French