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Falcons bound for OFSAA bowl after 34-7 win over Thousand Islands
Posted: November 12th, 2013 @ 7:29pm
By CLAUDE SCILLEY
BROCKVILLE - Maybe they really didn't need any help from Mother Nature Tuesday afternoon, but her invisible hand may have done the Frontenac Falcons a couple of favours anyway.
On a day when the sub-freezing temperature kept a film of snow intact on the Thousand Islands Secondary School field - and no doubt made the football difficult to catch - a couple of early dropped passes prevented the hometown Pirates from keeping pace with the visitors.
That meant that when the Falcons exploded for two touchdowns in the final 51 seconds of the first half, it was enough to bury the Pirates, who ultimately fell to the Kingston Area champions 34-7 in the Eastern Ontario Secondary Schools Athletic Association senior AAA championship game.
The victory means Frontenac will go to a provincial bowl game for the third year in a row, Nov. 26 in Etobicoke against the champion of the Region of Peel. That team will be determined Friday, when Mississauga Lorne Park meets St. Joan of Arc of Vaughan.
At the end of an autumn that remained unseasonably warm deep into the schedule, Tuesday's frigid, windy day didn't seem to hamper the Falcons who, in the first half - when they were still trying - seemed able to do pretty much what they wanted with a touchdown on each of their first two possessions.
During that time, however, a Thousand Islands receiver twice got free of coverage and was wide open for a pass that Pirates quarterback Gunner Stevenson-Reitsma delivered right on target, only to have it dropped.
"It could have been quite a different game - if they catch those," Frontenac coach Mike Doyle said, since both plays likely would have gone for a long gain.
It wasn't to be however. The Frontenac defence asserted itself, not allowing Thousand Islands to gain first down and thereby rendering those drops a relative footnote. The Falcons forced the Pirates to concede safety touches on three of four possessions to start the second quarter, and intercepted a pass on the other.
Of the 17 plays the home team ran in the opening half, only three resulted in positive yardage.
"Our defence has been great all season long," Doyle said, "and our front four was outstanding again. They could not run the ball against us. That made them one-dimensional and then our secondary had a few lapses early, but after those two drops, I don't think they had any close calls. They tightened up."
After building the early lead, Frontenac's offence didn't do much, either, until the final two minutes of the half.
When Thousand Islands conceded its third safety at 10:24, it took just 27 seconds and two plays for Frontenac to score, on consecutive completed passes by quarterback Rob Magee, of 17 yards to Jacob Veenstra and then 43 yards to Brett Byron for the score. Then, on the second play of the Pirates' subsequent possession, Stevenson-Reitsma was intercepted by Connor O'Neil, who returned it 45 yards for another touchdown and a 34-0 lead to take into the break.
His quarterback is looking better every week, Doyle said. Magee completed seven of 11 passes in the first half before he was pretty much shut down in the second, throwing the ball just once as the Falcons humanely took their foot off the gas.
"I see Robert getting more comfortable in his reads and he made some really nice reads today," Doyle said. "I see his leadership improving, particularly today when they outnumbered us a couple of times with the blitz, where he was going to have to get rid of it, and he got rid of it. It wasn't always complete but he's seeing what's in front of him a little bit better, which is good."
Thousand Islands, the only triple-A team in EOSSAA outside of Kingston, lost to Gananoque in the Leeds-Grenville semifinals. With a net offence of minus-28 yards through the first three quarters, the Pirates mounted a couple of solid drives in the fourth quarter against Frontenac's second string, the final one ending with a four-yard touchdown run by Ryan Lefebvre with 32 seconds left in the game.
Frontenac's first quarter touchdowns came from Harry Robinson, on a 30-yard run in the game's fourth minute, and Braeden Stevenhaagen, on a seven-yard run four minutes later.
The win was the 28th in a row for Frontenac, dating to early September, 2011. When they go to Toronto in two weeks, the Falcons will be seeking their third straight regional bowl championship.
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