Crusaders' running back Jordan Gabriel-Cannon grabs hold of a Guardians' facemask during a 37-14 loss to St. Joseph at Prime Ministers' Park on Thursday afternoon. Herald photo by Gary Pearson
--PRINCE ALBERT-- Carlton played their last game on home turf on Thursday, and although the Crusaders displayed nice balance in attack, they eventually lost 37-14 to St. Joseph Guardian.
âThey took advantage of our mistakes in the first quarter, which kind of puts up in a hole,â said Crusaders head coach Rylan Michalchuk. âAnd sometimes it is tough to get out of it.â
Guardiansâ running back Tanner White had an all-star performance carrying the ball for the visitors. White possesses explosive off-the-mark acceleration, and the innate ability to turn on a dime, which caused the Crusaders defence fits throughout.
âCredit to him (White), he is a good running back,â said Michalchuk. âWe were just very, very poor tacklers today.â
The diminutive running back broke the game wide open, scoring four touchdowns on the day and trundling for 299 yards on 18 carries â averaging almost 17 yards per carry. White, however, said he owes a lot of his success to his offensive line.
âThey have improved so much this year,â said the 17-year-old running back. âCompared to the beginning of the year, they did way better. Itâs unbelievable, really.â
St. Joseph smashed and grinded their way to a 30-0 third-quarter lead before the Crusaders got on the board. The lopsided score, however, was somewhat deceiving as Carlton played intelligently on the offensive side of the ball.
Aaron Jensen snared the ball on a splendid pass from James Thorpe for the Crusaders first major of the game. The 37-yard touchdown reception with 3:57 left in the fourth was well deserved.
âOverall in the second half we really brought it together and got some points out of it,â said Jensen, whose 152 yards and two touchdowns were the most of any receiver.
The second half saw the Crusaders level the Guardians on 14 points. A better start from the home side would have surely ensured a grandstand finish.
Jordan Gabriel-Cannon had another workmanlike performance with 146 yards on 28 carries. While Thorpe enjoyed a commendable performance in the air, throwing for 202 yards and two touchdowns â both to Jensen.
But the result wasnât to be for the 4-2 Crusaders, who look forward to the business end of the season. Eight of nine teams will qualify for the playoffs, which are just around the corner.
With no margin for error, the knockout stage is sure separate the contenders from the pretenders.