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Grenadiers overcome yet another slow start to defeat Oshawa
Posted: July 12th, 2014 @ 10:45pm
By CLAUDE SCILLEY
Each time it happens, it becomes more puzzling for Kingston Grenadiers coach Bob Mullen.
"We have to find that gear sooner," Mullen said, after his team snapped out of an early funk to pin a 41-7 Ontario Varsity Football League defeat on the visiting Oshawa Hawkeyes.
As is becoming strangely common, the Grenadiers started slowly, leading just 7-0 at halftime. "Sadly, it has been a little bit typical," Mullen said.
No fooling. It was 6-3 well into the second quarter of a game against winless Markham in June that Kingston eventually won 71-10; later, against York-Simcoe, it was 7-0 at halftime of a game the Grenadiers ultimately won going away, 42-0.
As long as a game stays close, Mullen said, "you know you're walking a tightrope. You can't afford to make a mistake."
Fortunately, by the time the Grenadiers made their only grievous error of the game Saturday - a 76-yard touchdown pass from Jack Hazlett to Tariq Matradeo in the game's 59th minute - they'd built a 41-0 lead.
"Their touchdown was a bust in coverage and you can't really fault the (defender) because he was playing out of position due to injury," Mullen said, "- but if it's still 7-0, all of a sudden it's 7-all."
Though Mullen said Oshawa played well, the slow start Saturday was due to his own team's misdeeds. "We take penalties that stall drives," he said. "We dropped a few balls."
Indeed, so floundering was the Kingston offence in the opening half, the only touchdown the Grenadiers scored, a one-yard run by quarterback Dylan Fisher, capped a drive that was helped along by Oshawa penalties on consecutive plays for unnecessary roughness and offside.
Playing on a hot, brilliantly sunny afternoon at Loyalist Collegiate, Fisher completed a 40-yard touchdown pass to Nate Thompson in the sixth minute of the third quarter as the Grenadiers took a 14-0 lead. That's the way the score stayed until two and a half minutes into the final period, when Fisher connected for a 15-yard TD pass to Jeremy Pendergast.
A 38-yard completion from Fisher to Pendergast six minutes later set the Grenadiers up on the Oshawa eight-yard line, from where running back Konner Burtenshaw scored on the very next play. A 20-yard punt return by Brodie Latimer set Kingston up for another touchdown on its next possession, a 24-yard pass from Tanner DeJong to Rahim Silcott.
After the Oshawa score spoiled Kingston's bid for its second consecutive shutout, Riley Avery scored the Grenadiers' final major on a 70-yard run.
The win, Kingston's fifth in its last six games, improves the Grenadiers' record to 5-2. They remain tied for second place in the Wettges East division with the Cornwall Wildcats, 35-21 winners Saturday over Pickering. Oshawa fell to 2-6.
The Kingston defence was again stout, defending the run brilliantly and returning the ball to the offence in good field position to start virtually every drive. By the end of the game the Grenadiers' secondary was coping with the loss of Dylan Bell and Harry Robinson to injury.
"The kids up front are doing a good job. In the back end, we had kids playing out of position all over the place," Mullen said.
Even in defeat, Mullen had words of praise for Hazlett, the Hawkeyes quarterback, whose uncle, Paul, a Kingston native, was a teammate of Mullen on the Queen's Golden Gaels 1978 national championship team.
"The kid was hard to keep down," Mullen said. "We were trying to maintain a little more discipline in the pass rush because he was doing a good job of extending the play with his feet.
"They were missing a number of players. No. 7 (Braeden Vavassori) was clearly the guy they were trying to get to and in the second half we tried to erase him from the scheme a little bit. That was really about all (we did differently in the second half). "
The Grenadiers will conclude their regular schedule Saturday in Toronto, where they'll face the Metro Toronto Wildcats.
The junior varsity Grenadiers improved to 3-4 with a 34-17 victory over winless Oshawa. It was a bittersweet win for Kingston; though it ended a two-game losing streak, the 17 points allowed by the Grenadiers was two more than Oshawa had scored in its six previous games combined.
"The offensive line played well," Grenadiers coach Mark Magee said. "We didn't give up any sacks and we ran the ball well, and to me, that's (thanks to) the offensive line."
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