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Grenadiers sweep tripleheader from visiting Markham

June 22, 2014

By CLAUDE SCILLEY

Kingston Grenadiers were plodding along Saturday afternoon, in rather nondescript fashion for much of the first half of their Ontario Varsity Football League varsity division game.

“We didn’t come out sharp,” said Grenadiers coach Bob Mullen, understating the performance of a team that was nursing a 6-3 lead over the winless Markham Raiders. “We dodged a couple of bullets early.”

As has happened more than once this season, the Grens’ defence took it upon itself to lend a hand. In the span of about five minutes they returned two interceptions for touchdowns and Harry Robinson blocked a punt deep in Markham territory that promptly became another major score.

The impetus from that defensive uprising spurred the Grenadiers to a 71-10 victory on a sunny afternoon at Loyalist Collegiate.

Kingston improved its record to 3-2; Markham, the team that eliminated the Grenadiers from the playoffs a year ago, fell to 0-5.

Tyler Ling and Connor O’Neil had the interception returns for touchdowns in the first half, of 57 and 42 yards, respectively, helping the Grenadiers to a 34-10 halftime lead.

“The score flattered us,” Mullen said. “The interceptions really set the tone of the game.”

Mullen said the team’s defence has been doing a good job all season. “They’ve been working hard,” he said. “They’re good kids.”

Indeed, Robinson added a third interception return, this 0ne for 43 yards, for a touchdown in the second half.

“Our corners, our outside guys played pretty well today in coverage,” Mullen said. “We played their short-passing game pretty well, and aggressively. We didn’t always tackle in space well downfield but we were good at the line of scrimmage.”

Kingston led 34-3 when Markham scored its only touchdown, on a 50-yard pass play from quarterback Matt Prucha to Austin Gonsalves just before halftime that was enabled by the aforementioned poor downfield tackling.

Otherwise, it was a game in which the Grenadiers could do no wrong. In the third quarter, for instance, the Raiders intercepted a pass but promptly fumbled it back before the play ended.

Then, after the touchdown that gave Kingston a 48-10 lead, the Grenadiers shanked the kickoff. It only went about 15 yards downfield but instead of going out of bounds, giving Markham good field position, it was recovered on the fly by the Grens and before long Kingston was back in the Markham end zone.

Though that might have been an accident not intended to run up the score, it was hard to excuse a 55-yard pass down the left sideline with less than five minutes to play and Kingston leading by 52 points. Notwithstanding Nate Thompson’s sensational one-handed grab of the pass from backup quarterback Tanner DeJong at the goal line, it seemed excessive.

Harris McEachern had two touchdowns for the Grenadiers, while Brodie Latimer, Jeremy Pendergast and Liam Brand had one apiece. Mike Bashall kicked two first-half field goals, one of 43 yards.

Kingston quarterback Dylan Fisher completed 11 of 21 passes for 179 yards and four touchdowns. Pendergast had three catches for 94 yards.

In other games Saturday, the junior varsity Grenadiers improved to 2-2 by defeating winless Markham 44-8, while in a battle of 0-3 games the Kingston bantams launched the tripleheader sweep with their first win of the year, 28-12 over Markham.

All three teams will be on the road next Saturday, with games in Newmarket against the York-Simcoe Bucs.

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