Marauders pick Panthers apart

Something just wasn’t right for the Birchmount Park Panthers – and that was just fine with the Markham District Marauders.

The Toronto District School Board champs were highly favoured to extend their 12-game winning streak and walk off with the Metro Bowl. Game No. 13 on the season proved to be unlucky for the Panthers.

A poised Markham quarterback Tyler Pritty ripped the Panthers secondary for a pair of first-quarter touchdowns on the way to a 19-0 victory Wednesday night in front of a raucous but small crowd at the Rogers Centre.

Pritty, named Star MVP after completing 15 of 20 passes for 265 yards, set Metro Bowl history winning his third consecutive title, but first with Markham.

“Leadership was so important and me, being in this situation before, helped the guys,” said Pritty. “We got the points early and I could see (Birchmount Park) was frustrated.”

Pritty credited the Markham defence for shutting down one of the top-scoring teams in the Greater Toronto Area.

“They were just unable to score and … that’s a huge credit to our defensive team,” Pritty said.

It was lights-out early for the Panthers, hoping to win their first Bowl championship in the history of the school. On the flipside, Markham won the Metro Bowl for the first time after three losses in the senior football finale.

It was Markham’s 10th win in 11 games. Their only loss was a 16-15 defeat to King City in a York Region league game.

Birchmount Park appeared to have scored first when track star Aaron Brown recovered a fumble and scampered 44 yards into the end zone with 1:14 gone in the game.

However, the celebration ended when the Panthers were penalized for interference on the play.

Two series later, Pritty got Markham on the scoreboard, tossing a 26-yard pass to his younger brother Connor.

Then, with 1:14 left in the opening quarter, the Markham pivot – who had two previous Metro Bowl rings with the St. Michael’s Kerry Blues – put his team up 12-0. Speedy Aaron Gordon eluded Birchmount Park defenders, grabbed a pass and bolted 78 yards for the major. Both converts were missed.

With 56 seconds left in the game, Andrew Baillie capped a 53-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown.

Markham’s stellar defensive squad was full marks for holding an explosive Birchmount Park team to just 58 yards of offence in the first half. Linebackers Colin Shier and Lucas Cristovao were particularly tough on the Panthers.

“We backfired, left so many plays on the field. You can’t win a game with zero on the scoreboard,” said Birchmount coach Rob Pacas.

Birchmount Park’s best scoring chance came with 8:49 left in the fourth quarter; they had a first down at the Markham 18, but ended up turning it over on downs.

Source: Toronto Star

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