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Grenadiers gain dramatic last-minute victory over Cornwall
Posted: July 20th, 2013 @ 10:53pm
By CLAUDE SCILLEY
For a time Saturday afternoon it looked like penalties might be no small part of the Kingston Grenadiers losing a football game. In the end, a penalty to their opponent played a significant role in the Grenadiers winning it.
A penalty for unnecessary roughness was part of a stunning comeback in the final 19.9 seconds of the game that gave the Grenadiers a 20-17 victory over the Cornwall Wildcats in an Ontario Varsity Football League varsity contest Saturday afternoon at Loyalist Collegiate.
Quarterback Dylan Bell scored the game-winning touchdown on a one-yard run with 5.3 seconds left on the clock.
The victory allowed the Grenadiers to finish as part of a three-way at 6-2 in the Wettges conference. From it, Markham was awarded second place, behind the 8-0 Ottawa Myers Riders, who both received a first-round playoff bye. Kingston finished third and will host the Oshawa Hawkeyes (4-4) in a conference quarter-final Saturday, 1 p.m., at LC. Cornwall will host Metro Toronto, 5-3-1, in a game of Wildcats in the other quarter-final.
The Grenadiers, who trailed by 14 points midway through the third quarter Saturday, closed to 17-13 in the fourth quarter on a 37-yard field goal into the wind by Mike Bashall but it appeared their final bid to win the game had died at the Cornwall 21-yard line when Bell was sacked on fourth down with just more than a minute to play.
Cornwall was unable to kill the final 69 seconds, however, and punted. The Grenadiers scrimmaged on their own 45-yard line with just less than 20 seconds left.
Bell completed a 50-yard pass to Nathan Kellar to the Wildcats' 15-yard line and a penalty for unnecessary roughness gave Kingston first down on the Cornwall one. Bell went low behind the surge of his offensive line and pushed the ball over the goal line on the first attempt.
Cornwall had time for one play after receiving the subsequent kickoff, but the pass fell incomplete.
For the Grenadiers it was a terrific ending to a game that did not begin well. Three times in the first quarter they had the ball inside the Cornwall 20-yard line, and from it they managed just a 33-yard Bashall field goal. The other possessions ended with a fumble and an intercepted pass.
At that point the Grenadiers changed quarterbacks. Bell, who began the season as the Kingston pivot, replaced Dylan Fisher, who had been at the controls since Bell went out of the lineup with a broken collarbone in the second game of the season.
"It was a tough decision at halftime because Dylan Fisher has been wonderful," coach Tim Penergast said. "He makes good decisions most of the time, he throws a nice ball and he understands the offence, but those mistakes in the first half were glaring mistakes that cost us going up 21-0."
Since he hadn't played quarterback in more than a month, Pendergast said he wasn't sure how Bell, bound in September for Carleton University - where hopes to make the team as a safety - would respond.
"We didn't really know how it was going to turn out," Pendergast said. "We have three very good Grade 11 quarterbacks but you need that veteran savvy. He's rusty as a polished quarterback but he's able to make plays.
"At the beginning of the year we were having success but it was sporadic, exactly like that second half, where things shouldn't happen but his athleticism just gets the job done.
For instance, Bell turned a broken play into a 52-yard gain in the fourth quarter that won back field position and ultimately led to Bashall's second field goal.
The Grenadiers had been trying to pound the ball along the ground through much of the game - with not a lot of success - but for the game-winning drive they went to the air.
"We have a big squad and we're trying to say, 'This is what we want to do' and (the Wildcats) were overplaying the run," Pendergast said. "All of a sudden they switched to a cover-2 look and (coach Bob Mullen) said, 'Throw the corner to Kellar.'
"I called the play and it was executed perfectly."
It was an outcome that looked improbable when the Grenadiers were supporting the Cornwall effort with some awful penalties. The first Wildcats touchdown drive was kept alive by an objectionable conduct penalty and a drive that ultimately resulted in a third-quarter field goal was fuelled by a piling-on penalty on a play where the quarterback had been sacked, a reversal of better than 20 yards.
Kellar had a splendid day for the Grenadiers. He caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Bell in the end zone in the third quarter to cut the deficit to 17-10. He and Bell then connected on a fourth-down play that brought the Grenadiers to the Cornwall 24-yard line with 2:03 remaining in the game to keep alive the drive that ultimately ended with the sack.
After denying Kingston's three early trips into the red zone, Cornwall took a 14-3 lead by the end of the first half and stretched it to 17-3 early in the third quarter.
With the visitors poised to put the game away for their seventh win in a row, the Grenadiers defence came up with three big plays. After an 80-yard kickoff return by Alex Pilon set the Wildcats up deep in Kingston territory, an interception by Matt Pendergast - his second of the game - at the goal line ended the threat. Then, after the Grenadiers had to punt from the end zone and Cornwall got the ball back on the Kingston 34-yard line, a sack by Ryan Miles pushed the Wildcats out of field goal position and then Farhan Imtiaz intercepted the pass at his own 15 when Cornwall gambled with a halfback pass on fourth down.
Cole Goodfellow carried 25 times for 74 yards for the Grenadiers. Bell also rushed for 74 yards and by completing six of 16 passes, threw for 96 more. Kellar had three receptions for 67 yards.
In the first game of Saturday's doubleheader, the bantam Grenadiers were defeated 49-0 by the Brampton Bulldogs to finish their season 1-7.
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