© Herald Photo by Perry Bergson
St. Mary's Evan Parchomchuk intercepts a Carlton pass at the goal line late in the first half of Friday's Canadian Tire Classic at Max Clunie Field. Carlton receiver Shelton Paul (4) can only watch as the ball is picked off before it reaches him. St. Mary successfully defended their title in the all-Prince Albert high school match-up recording a thrilling 17-12 victory.
The St. Mary Marauders get to hold onto the Canadian Tire Cup for one more year, but it wasn’t easy.
The Marauders needed a 45-yard punt return for a touchdown by Bryant Sackney with just under nine minutes left in the game and then have a solid defensive stand in the waning seconds to pull out a thrilling 17-12 triumph over the Carlton Crusaders in the annual Canadian Tire Classic on Friday at Max Clunie Field.
The win was the Marauders’ second straight and lifts their record to 2-1 in league play while Carlton is now 0-4.
St. Mary got a quick start in the high school showdown when Kolton Oftedal ran for 74 yards for the game’s first major early in the first quarter and when Joel Senko connected on a 17-yard field goal late in the opening session to extend the lead to 10-0 it looked like the game might be a rout.
Carlton never quit, however, and after Ben Bihun made a big catch for the Crusaders the next pass by quarterback Julian Bird was intercepted by St. Mary defensive back Evan Parchomchuk at the Marauders’ one-yard line. Bray Morissette was then called for intentionally grounding the ball when trying to throw from his end zone and that gave Carlton its first points after they were awarded a safety.
That play seemed to fire the Crusaders up as they came out to start the second half by moving the ball deep into the St. Mary zone, which resulted in a 26-yard field goal by Ryan Earing.
Momentum had obviously swung in Carlton’s favour as Sackney fumbled on the next St. Mary possession and although the Crusaders had a 33-yard field-goal attempt blocked they did manage to take the lead in the game on their next possession when Bird connected with Ty Siwicki on a 57-yard catch-and-run play for a touchdown late in the third quarter.
That set the stage for Sackney’s brilliant runback, but also preceded a scary moment when St. Mary’s Zach Bochetti needed to be carted off the field in an ambulance with under three minutes to play. Bochetti was hurt in a midfield collision and was lying awkwardly on his side before medical attention arrived. It is unclear as to what his injury is and the same is true for Oftedal, who left the game by ambulance just before the first half was finished.
The latter stages of the game saw several turnovers, but as time wound down the Marauders hung on for the win.
Both teams will return to action next week as the regular season enters its final three weeks. Carlton is going to need to get on a roll while the Marauders will have to maintain their momentum.