It wasn’t necessarily the good start his football team had Thursday afternoon that pleased Holy Cross Crusaders coach Tim Pendergast the most, though a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter is nothing to sneer at.
It was the way the Crusaders finished their 21-7 victory over the Napanee Golden Hawks that was perhaps most satisfying.
“Every game we’ve lost, we were in it until the fourth quarter,” said Pendergast, whose team, with the victory, ended a two-game losing streak. “It appears to me that as the game goes on, we seem to implode.”
Certainly, in its last two setbacks, Holy Cross led 10-6 at halftime of a game against Regi the Crusaders eventually lost 34-12. The following week, two fourth-quarter field goals overcame a 4-0 deficit as Sydenham saddled Holy Cross with a 6-4 loss.
At a school that’s used to its football teams winning, a 1-3 start is something few Crusaders have experienced. Being an underdog to a Napanee team that entered the game with two wins also was something new, but Holy Cross asserted itself in the first quarter. Playing with the wind at their backs, the Crusaders scored touchdowns on two of their first three possessions.
“We kind of got our confidence,” Pendergast said.
The first score—Holy Cross’s first touchdown in seven quarters—came on a 35-yard pass from Colin Walker to Devin Leblanc; the second on a 30-yard hitch screen pass to Ian McLatchie, who picked up some nice downfield blocking on his way to the end zone.
Brodie Blaskie scored the other Holy Cross touchdown, in the second quarter, as the Crusaders took a 21-0 lead into halftime.
Napanee’s touchdown came in the third quarter, scored by Josh Durnan, capping a nice drive that was fuelled by four Holy Cross penalties.
On other days, that might have been of concern, but in the gloaming of this cold, windy day, Holy Cross denied the Golden Hawks any big plays or sustained drives. Napanee appeared to want the game to end as much as the handful of spectators who were braving the elements, unable to string together more than one first down on any of their remaining possessions, one of which began with recovering a Holy Cross fumble near midfield in the fourth quarter.
In Thursday’s other Kingston Area Secondary Schools Athletic Association senior contest, the La Salle Black Knights completed a 6-0 regular season with a 27-7 win over the Ernestown Eagles at La Salle’s Berk Brean Field.
La Salle scored two touchdowns in each of the first two quarters—the first played with a wind that gusted to 60 km/hr at its back, and the second into it—to take a 27-0 lead into the intermission.
The Knights took advantage of two Ernestown turnovers, marching for their first touchdown after the Eagles, who were moving the football into the wind on the game’s first possession, fumbled on a second-and-one run up the middle near midfield. La Salle tailback Tim Wight shortly thereafter scored the first of his three touchdowns on an eight-yard run.
Later, with La Salle holding a 14-0 lead, Ernestown was denied on a third-and-short bid inside the Knights’ 15-yard line and immediately after the turnover, Shawn Miller went 100 yards off-tackle right for a touchdown.
The Eagles, who played most of the game with Josh Campbell replacing Wiley Taylor at quarterback, later got their only score when Dawson Link recovered a La Salle fumble in the Knights’ end zone. It was Ernestown’s first touchdown in three games, though the Eagles’ offence remains without a TD in its last 14 quarters of football.
Play resumes Friday afternoon with Bayridge, 0-5, visiting Regi, 4-1, and Frontenac, winner of three in a row after dropping its season opener, hosting Sydenham, winner of two straight after an 0-3 start. Both games are scheduled for 3:45.