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Knights withstand late-game threat to defeat Sydenham

October 4, 2013

By CLAUDE SCILLEY

A fairly nondescript defensive struggle ended with some high drama Thursday night, when the La Salle Black Knights survived a late threat to preserve a 7-0 Kingston Area Secondary Schools Athletic Association senior football victory over the Sydenham Golden Eagles.

Save for a drive early in the second half that ended in a missed field goal, Sydenham had been held in check by La Salle’s defence for most of the game when the Golden Eagles took possession of the ball at their own 47-yard line with 2:10 remaining to be played in the game.

Facing third-and-10, Eagles quarterback Dylan Fisher completed a pass that Thomas Withey took to the La Salle six-yard line. On the very next play, however, Fisher’s pass into the flat was intercepted by Peter McLay at the goal line and returned to about the La Salle 40.

Playing before several hundred spectators under the lights at La Salle, Sydenham’s defence held, but La Salle got a first down when the Eagles contacted punter Joe Harry with about a minute to play. Again the Eagles forced La Salle to punt, and they got the ball back on their own 31-yard line with 4.3 seconds on the clock.

Fisher and Withey connected for a 17-yard gain and then, with one second left, Nate Thompson was given the ball. He only got as far as midfield as time expired, but La Salle was called for unnecessary roughness and the Eagles had one more play from the Knights’ 40.

Fisher’s throw to the corner was just out of the reach of his receiver.

“We went in fits and starts,” Sydenham coach Mike Love said. “Their defence certainly shut us down in the first half. We really didn’t get much going. The first drive of the second half, from our 25 to the 18-yard line, that was great. Unfortunately we couldn’t really build on it too much.”

La Salle coach Reuben Brunet praised his players for their resiliency.

“A lot of teams I’ve coached, they would have been mentally broken on the six-yard line and the other team would have walked it in,” he said, “but not this team. They’re mentally tough, they’re fun to coach and they play hard, from whistle to whistle.”

The game was scoreless until the final minute of the first half, when La Salle quarterback Tim Wight connected with rookie Grant Thompson on a 30-yard touchdown pass.

“Our young guys are really making a contribution,” said Brunet, who also lauded the play of his punter, Harry, and his punt-coverage team.

“We really played well on the special teams,” he said. “That’s why we won this game.”

Youth is also serving the Sydenham team, which included just two fifth-year players Thursday night.

“(La Salle’s defence) had a solid game, obviously,” Love said. “They pitched a shutout, but I’m really proud of our guys, too. We had a number of kids playing today who hadn’t seen a lot of time this year.

“(La Salle) did really well on first down, They were getting six, seven yards on first down a lot of the game and second-and-three is tough to defend. In the fourth quarter, I’ll give our defence credit — they started to get a little tighter on first down and that’s how we got the ball back.”

The victory lifted La Salle’s record to 3-1, while Sydenham, which failed to score a touchdown for the second game in a row, fell to 1-2.

In Thursday’s other senior contest, the Frontenac Falcons remained undefeated with a 36-12 win over the Ernestown Eagles. In Friday’s only game, the Regiopolis Notre Dame Panthers, 1-2, will visit the Bayridge Blazers, 0-3, for a game scheduled to start at 1:45.

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