Special teams provide spark in Ontario bronze medal win
Photo credit: Fotos by Fitz – Glenn Dickson
By Nolan Kowal
Alberta and Ontario squared off in the bronze medal game Friday evening at Investors Group Field, with Ontario defeating Alberta 38-14.
Alberta struck first when quarterback Tae Gordon rolled out to his left and found receiver Alex Groshak wide open in the corner of the end zone for a major score and a 7-0 Alberta lead.
Later in the first quarter, a bad snap back to Alberta punter Tanner Holt resulted in a turnover. Ontario took over deep in Alberta territory. Ontario gambled on third down, and running back Chase Brown managed to get the ball in the end zone for the Ontario touchdown. The score was 7-7 after one quarter.
Ontario ran a wildcat formation on offence for much of the first half with Jacob Savoni running the ball from the shotgun. A couple nice runs by Savoni led to a 28-yard-field goal by Ryan Isenor that gave Ontario a 10-7 lead.
Ontario added to their lead when returner Daniel Valente fielded a punt at his own 15-yard-line and ran it all the way back for a touchdown.
Alberta tried to cut into the Ontario lead late in the half, but Gordon’s throw into the end zone on the last play of the half fell incomplete. Ontario led 17-7 at halftime.
Ontario extended their lead on the first possession of the third quarter. On Alberta’s one-yard line, quarterback David Maecker rolled out on a play fake and hit receiver Tommy Nield in the end zone for a major score. That gave Ontario a commanding 24-7 lead.
Alberta answered quickly on their next drive, as they drove the ball down inside the Ontario 20-yard-line. Quarterback Tae Gordon rolled out to his right and completed a pass to running back Alex Gayle who dove into the corner of the end zone. That cut Ontario’s lead to 24-14.
But Ontario came right back and scored another touchdown on their next drive. Maecker threw a perfect ball to Ryan Isenor who jumped and brought it down in the end zone. Ontario regained their 17-point lead at 31-14 going into the fourth quarter.
Alberta had a chance to add a late touchdown, but quarterback Tommy Yanchuk—who entered the game in the second half—was intercepted by Ontario defensive back Austin Daya in the end zone. Daya returned it the length of the field for a touchdown, putting the game out of reach.
“I think our kids responded well,” said Ontario head coach Glen Mills. “They showed tremendous character to come back and we were banged up playing guys in a lot of different positions today.”
The injuries Ontario suffered earlier in the tournament forced them to implement the wildcat package on offence.
“Believe it or not we just put that in on Wednesday,” said Mills. “We just thought we would do some things to keep the defence off balance and it worked pretty well today.”
Although Ontario had high hopes for this tournament after losing in last year’s final to Quebec, Mills was proud of the way his team finished.
“We could have easily tanked it and got fourth, but instead our guys decided to keep playing football,” he said. “It was a great finish for us.”
Alberta actually finished with more net yards on offence than Ontario did. But the big plays were the difference in this game, particularly the punt return touchdown and interception return touchdown.
About the author
Nolan Kowal is a second year Creative Communications student at Red River College. He is majoring in journalism. Once he graduates, he hopes to pursue a career in sports broadcasting. He currently works as a news anchor and reporter for 680 CJOB in Winnipeg, and as a board operator for Winnipeg Goldeyes radio broadcasts. Follow @NolanKowal on twitter.
This post is also available in: French