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Last-minute field goal from emergency kicker gives Bayridge victory

October 11, 2014

By CLAUDE SCILLEY

Thank goodness Warren Sherwood changed his mind.

If he hadn’t, the Bayridge Blazers might not have won their football game Friday afternoon.

Sherwood’s 31-yard field goal with 36.7 seconds left in the game gave Bayridge a dramatic 9-8 victory over the Kingston-Queen Elizabeth Combines in one of two Kingston Area Secondary Schools Athletic Association senior games played.

In the other, the Regiopolis Notre Dame Panthers stunned the Holy Cross Crusaders 38-21 at Caraco Field Friday night.

Sherwood wasn’t on the team at Bayridge when the season began.

“He’s played before,” Blazers coach Mike McCourt said, “and I guess he was sort of on the fence (about playing this year) and his buddies convinced him to come out.”

He played two weeks ago and when the Bayridge kicker got hurt, he asked McCourt for a chance to give it a try.

“He’s the guy who looked the best this week,” McCourt said.

Though Sherwood’s kick ultimately decided the game, it wasn’t the end of the drama. The Blue Raiders got the ball back at their own 42-yard line with 29.9 seconds left in the game. A 25-yard pass from Mark Lappan to Cory Lambert and an 18-yard run by Lappan left KC at the Bayridge 25-yard line with 14.8 seconds on the clock.

An incomplete pass later the visitors opted to try for a field goal. The snap was a little high and the kick was blocked.

KC-QE coach Brandon Watt said he considered punting for a single point and a tie, but promptly dismissed the idea, even though his team’s regular long snapper wasn’t available due to injury.

“I figured this is a game that we had circled on the calendar as a winnable game for us,” Watt said. “Our goal was to come here and win and my thought was if we want to come out of here 2-1, there’s only one choice.”

The flurry of excitement brought to an end to a game that was a fairly nondescript defensive struggle for the first three quarters.

Then things erupted.

A 56-yard punt return by Owen Barr set KC up for the game’s first good scoring opportunity in the final minute of the third quarter. The Combines got as far as the Bayridge 16-yard line before a field-goal attempt was blocked.

Barr was not to be denied the next time the Blazers punted. In full flight he took the ball on a bounce and raced 65 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown at 2:13 of the fourth quarter.

“He has good speed; he listens, works hard—he’s the consummate great kid that you’d want on any team,” Watt said. “He’s a great pass blocker, he’ll run the ball, he’s got good hands, he can catch the ball out of the backfield. All the tools that you’d like are there.”

A two-point convert gave KC an 8-0 lead but Bayridge’s John Harper quickly answered by returning the ensuing kickoff 55 yards.

“When we scored, I was, like, ‘Come on, kickoff team,’ because this is exactly what happens,” Watt said. “You get amped up and you go out there and think, ‘OK, we’re ahead,’ and the other team brings the return back—and they did.”

Back-to-back KC penalties for unnecessary roughness set the Blazers up on the one-yard line. It took three tries from there but they finally scored, when fullback Griffin Bouffard bulled across the line. A two-point convert attempt failed.

KC did nothing with its next possession and Bayridge, by now playing without quarterback Jordan Fehr, on the sideline with an injured ankle, got a clutch completion on third-and-11 from third string quarterback—and starting tight end—Mitch Knights to Ryan Spurrell. The Blazers got within range for a field-goal attempt with 2:03 to go, but the snap was mishandled.

KC again failed to kill the clock and Bayridge started at the KC 51-yard line with 1:20 to play. Knights scrambled for a first down to the KC 16 but he was then sacked on consecutive plays, leading to what proved to be the game-winning field goal attempt.

“It was one of those games where I said to the guys at halftime, we could easily be up 14-0,” McCourt said. “It felt like we dominated. I think our defence only gave up two first downs in the whole first half, but I said one big play by gives them momentum and it’s a different ball game.

“When they put that punt (return) in, I was concerned that our guys might be like, ‘Here we go again,’ but you’ve got to credit Mitch Knights, who came in when Jordan went down and put the team on his back.

“He’s a smart kid; he knows the offence well, and in the end I was just telling him to call it because I knew that my play selection was limited and … and he would know the plays that he could run and he could pass on.”

The win lifted Bayridge back to .500 at 2-2 but the defeat was discouraging for the combined group of players from KC and QE, who had played a superb defensive game.

“The front seven played strong,” Watt said. “We kept their run game in check. Their backup quarterback managed to break contain a couple of times on us and get some big yards at the end of the game. Part of that probably comes down to fatigue.”

Nonetheless, Watt was pleased with his team.

“I’m super happy with the way they all played. I couldn’t ask anything more. It’s all effort and attitude and they gave 100 per cent and had a great attitude about it the entire game. They were down after the loss, but they were able to pick themselves back up and see that the effort they put in is worth just as much as a win.

“At the end of everything, if you can look in the mirror and look each other in the eye and say, ‘Hey, everyone gave it everything,’ the chips are going to fall where they’re going to fall.”

 

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