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Falcons remain undefeated after 24-7 win over Holy Cross
Posted: October 10th, 2013 @ 11:40pm
By CLAUDE SCILLEY
There was nothing complicated about Thursday afternoon's football game, in the view of Holy Cross senior football coach Tim Pendergast.
"They're a well-oiled machine," Pendergast said after his Crusaders were defeated 24-7 by the Frontenac Falcons, "and we're not."
Thursday's match was anticipated as the first genuine test for the undefeated Falcons this year. Frontenac had won its first three games while Holy Cross, after losing its season opener, had won two in a row, both by shutout.
Frontenac took control of the game early. A high snap on a punt from deep in the Holy Cross end gave the Falcons the ball on the Crusaders' eight-yard line, from where Dustin Brogaard scored from one yard out two plays later. The next time Frontenac had the ball, Rob Magee and Aidan Stride connected for a 38-yard touchdown pass. Seven minutes into the game, the Falcons led 14-0.
Holy Cross answered smartly, when Brodie Blaskie returned the subsequent kickoff 68 yards from his own end zone to the Frontenac 53-yard line. Quarterback Jeremy Pendergast connected with Brent Martindale on a passing play that took him inside the Frontenac 10-yard line, but he fumbled and the Falcons recovered. Frontenac fumbled it back near midfield but the Crusaders failed to move the football, punted, and allowed Harry Robinson to return it 35 yards, a net loss on the exchange of 12 yards.
The juxtaposition of the outcome of the opportunities - Frontenac scoring after the high snap; Holy Cross turning the ball over after the long kick return then doing nothing when the Falcons fumbled it back - was the game in microcosm.
"They capitalized on opportunities," Pendergast said. "We did get a couple of opportunities and didn't do anything with them."
Frontenac coach Mike Doyle noted the pressure Holy Cross exerted after falling behind. The game settled into a defensive struggle, with the Falcons unable to score another touchdown and the Crusaders unable to muster a first down in the second half before Devon Christian's 85-yard touchdown run in the final two minutes of the game.
"They answered back, they showed a lot of heart," Doyle said. "We had some blunders there, misplayed a tremendous punt by (Martindale, that travelled 80 yards late in the second quarter). On the kickoff, we had the guy in his own end zone and we missed a tackle and the guy returned it to mid-field.
"It seemed every time we screwed up, Farhan was there to get it back for us."
Farhan Imtiaz had three interceptions for Frontenac and he was also a force on special teams. One of his interceptions and his 40-yard punt return led directly to a pair of field goals by Declan McCann in the second half.
"He was a huge difference in the game today," Doyle said of Imtiaz, a player he described as a hard worker and a player who rises to the occasion of facing a challenging opponent.
"He's aggressive," Doyle said. "If the ball's in the air he's going to think it's as much his as it is the other guy's."
Another player whose performance pleased Doyle was the quarterback Magee.
"He had some throws get away from him in the first half that would have been a couple more first downs and kept some drives going. It seemed like he just wasn't clicking.
"It was the second or third series of the second half when he started picking off the short receivers and finding the intermediate stuff and all of a sudden the field opened up for him. I think he played really well. I know they only ended up in a couple of field goals but I think it was important that he moved the team down the field and we got some points out of it, stretched it beyond a two-touchdown lead."
The Crusaders got a better performance from their defence than the offence, as Jeremy Pendergast and his receivers took turns misdirecting passes and dropping the ball when it was well delivered.
"Our more experienced players are on defence," coach Pendergast said. "Unfortunately we started in a hole, and then as things didn't go well we started to doubt and second-guess ourselves. We don't have the strength of character to overcome that, because of youth and a lack of success. (The Falcons) believe in themselves more than we do.
"They also have lots of talent. They have a big offensive line, they have good running backs, they have good receivers, a good quarterback. They have great DBs.
"I hope we learned something from this. Otherwise, the season will be over shortly. We have to repair some things before we move on."
The victory may be a costly one for the Falcons, who lost Brogaard, their splendid running back, with what appeared to be a serious knee injury late in the fourth quarter.
Frontenac resumes play Friday against Sydenham, while later that afternoon Holy Cross will visit Bayridge.
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