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Varsity Grenadiers suffer first defeat; juniors keep faint playoff hopes alive

July 7, 2013

By CLAUDE SCILLEY

A team that relied on a superb defence to fashion an undefeated record through the first five games of its Ontario Varsity Football League schedule was itself the victim of some defensive big plays Saturday afternoon.

The visiting Metro Toronto Wildcats intercepted four passes in the second half, one of which led to the go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter of a 27-21 victory over the Kingston Grenadiers at Loyalist Collegiate.

The defeat was the first in five games for the Grenadiers, and it came in a game where the Kingston defence was solved for almost twice as many points — 17 — as in those previous five games combined. Of note, however, is the fact that one Metro touchdown came on a punt return and another came after an interception return set the Wildcats up just two yards shy of the Kingston end zone.

After trailing 8-0 to start the game, the Grenadiers rallied to take a 14-11 lead into halftime. A seven-minute drive from the second half kickoff landed the Wildcats on the Kingston one-yard line but the home team’s sparkling defence again shone, as Derek Jimmo’s quarterback sack and an incomplete pass led Metro to settle for a 16-yard field goal by Daniel Schneider that tied the game.

On Kingston’s first play from scrimmage, Grenadiers quarterback Dylan Fisher threw an interception that Thomas Kadeem returned 50 yards. Wildcats quarterback Brett Stein then scored on a two-yeard run. David Hron blocked Schneider’s convert attempt but the next time Kingston got the ball, the Grenadiers were three plays and out, and Trivel Pinto returned the ensuing punt 65 yards for another Metro touchdown.

The Wildcats’ third score in a little more than three minutes reversed a three-point deficit into a 27-14 lead.

On the second play of Kingston’s next possession, Fisher threw another interception and the Grenadiers ended the third quarter having run five offensive plays without gaining a first down.

With 7:30 remaining in the fourth quarter, reserve quarterback Jeremy Pendergast was intercepted on a play that appeared to end the Grenadiers’ hopes but the Kingston defence wasn’t done, and with the Wildcats poised to score on the drive that followed that interception the Grenadiers forced a fumble and recovered it at their own four-yard line.

The Kingston offence, with Fisher again at the controls, moved the length of the field. A 50-yard pass from Fisher to Brett Byron set the Grenadiers up at the Metro one-yard line, from where Joshua Boursier carried into the end zone to lift Kingston within six points of the lead.

Matt Pendergast plucked a short kickoff out of the air with two minutes remaining to be played but the Kingston drive ended when Fisher threw his sixth interception of the day into the arms of Metro’s Dhillon Cole.

Metro, which improved to 3-2-1, led 1-0 when Pinto scored the game’s first touchdown on a 45-yard run in the game’s sixth minute.

Fisher completed a screen pass that went 55-yards to Konner Burtenshaw when Kingston got the ball, a play that put the Grenadiers on Metro’s 14-yard line. After a holding penalty sent Kingston back 10 yards, Fisher found Kalen Van Camp in the end zone with a pass that, after Mike Bashall’s convert, lifted the Grenadiers to within a point of the lead.

After Schneider kicked a 27-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter, the teams traded interceptions on consecutive plays in the middle of the period. A Toronto drive ended when Matt Pendergast tackled the ball carrier for a loss on fourth-and-one at the Kingston 34-yard line and from there the Grenadiers scored the go-ahead TD.

A 17-yard run by Fisher on first down, a 10-yard pass from Fisher to Van Camp and a 30-yard run by Burtenshaw to the Metro 15 were big plays on the drive, which was capped five plays later by a one-yard TD run by Fisher with 1:19 left in the second quarter.

Fisher completed six of 21 passes for 141 yards. Burtenshaw led a 188-yard ground attack with 109 yards on 15 carries.

• • •

The junior varsity Grenadiers gained their second win of the year Saturday afternoon, when they overcame a 14-point first-half deficit to post a 28-20 win over the Niagara Spears.

In ending Niagara’s three-game win streak, the Grenadiers held in check a team that had averaged 39 points in its last three games.

“We had a slow start on defence but they battled hard the rest of the game,” Grenadiers coach Mark Magee said. “The defence played very well in the second half of the game, didn’t give them anything.”

Niagara’s final touchdown came on an intercepted pass.

The Grenadiers improved to 2-5 to retain slim hopes for making the playoffs.

“We deserve to be 4-3 but we are 2-5 and we’ll see what happens as we go forward,” Magee said. “All we’ve asked of the players all year is to play hard, and they’ve done that every game. They’re doing a great job. At the beginning of the year we made rookie mistakes but we’re getting better.”

The bantam Grenadiers fell to 1-5 Saturday when they dropped a 39-26 decision to the Wildcats.

• • •

Next week all three Kingston teams will be in Nepean to play the Ottawa Myers Riders. Undefeated in varsity competition (5-0) — winning by an average score of 63-12 — the junior and bantam Riders are both 5-1.

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