RECAP (ONT – PEEL): CFC#6 Spartans grab first place in South Division 1 (VIDEO)

On Friday, at an absolutely packed Crusader Field, CFC#6 Lorne Park Spartans drove 80 yards for a touchdown in the dying seconds to secure a 20-17 win over the CFC#30 Mount Carmel Crusaders, and wrap up first place in the South Division.

A win is a win, but it was an uncharacteristically flat performance for the Spartans given the magnitude of the game.  Whether it was the rust of coming off a bye week, or not having played in a tight game all season, the Spartans didn’t look like one of the best teams in the country until they absolutely needed to.

The game started the same way every game has started for Lorne Park this season.  From deep in their own end, QB Alex Lavric strung together a series of short completions, mixed in a run from RB Omar Naguib and then aired it out to WR Devin Condlln for a 71 yard touchdown.

That quick start might have been the worst thing for us,” said Spartans head coach Scott Price.  “Our guys seemed to put it in cruise control after that, which you can’t do against a good team like Carmel.  And instead of jumping out to a 30-point lead like we did in every other game, Carmel fought back, and I think that caught our guys off guard.”

Early in the second quarter the Crusaders tied the score with an 11-play drive that culminated in a 5-yard touchdown pass from QB Alex Sutcliffe to WR Kian Schaffer-Baker.

The Spartans offense woke up briefly and responded with another long touchdown drive as Lavric found Condlln in the back of the endzone from 13 yards out.  This was the first time since the season opener that Condlln wasn’t facing double-coverage on every play, and he made it count.  Condlln, who already holds school records for career receptions, yardage, and receiving touchdowns, would finish the day with 9 catches for 142 yards and two touchdowns.

The Spartans started the second half with the ball but couldn’t get anything going offensively, and the Crusaders took advantage.  Mixing in runs from SB Cordell Bujold-Abu and RB Marcus Colangelo, Sutcliffe worked his way methodically down the field.  From the Lorne Park 27, he dumped it off to Schaffer-Baker, who broke two tackles and exploded up the sideline for the major.  The score remained tied 14-14 as the third quarter came to a close.

The fourth quarter began with promise for the Spartans as CB Marc Yacoub picked off Sutcliffe deep in Lorne Park territory, but the offense continued to stall.  Alex Lavric even threw his first interception of 2015 when Schaffer-Baker stepped in front of a ball intended for Condlln and brought it all the way down to the Lorne Park 14-yard line.  That ended a streak of 25 straight touchdown passes without an interception for Lavric, dating back to last season.  The Crusaders chipped in a 13-yard field goal to take a 17-14 lead, and for the first time this season, the Spartans found themselves trailing.

“Everything that could have gone wrong for us in the first 22 minutes of the second half did,” said Spartans offensive coordinator Ben Grant.  “We had eight dropped passes all season, and then suddenly today we had six.  Alex Lavric, the most accurate QB in the country missed two sure touchdowns and then threw his first interception in over a year.  Fortunately, when the game was on the line, all the usual suspects made plays, and Alex worked his magic once again.”

After yet another impressive defensive stand, the Spartans took over at their own 30 yard line with just over two minutes left in the game.  Lavric started the drive by hitting WR Joey Houghton on a quick slant.  Houghton broke two tackles before stepping out of bounds at the Spartans 49.  Naguib then ripped a 15-yard run, but a block in the back penalty near the end of the run put the ball back on the Lorne Park 50.  Naguib took another handoff up the middle, and then bounced to the outside for another ten yards and a first down at the Crusaders 50.  Lavric then looked to the middle of the field and found WR Ajet Suljejmani who broke two tackles and dragged tacklers down to the 15 yard line.  Simmons pulled in a short pass from Lavric, and then Naguib forced his way for three more.  On 3rd and 4 from the 9-yard line, Lavric rolled to his right, but with no one open he kept it himself, threw a would-be tackler to the ground, and lunged forward for the first down.  With 18 seconds remaining, Lavric followed his center Riley Birch into the endzone for the winning touchdown.

Lavric finished the day 21 of 37 for 305 yards, with 2 passing touchdowns, a rushing touchdown, and an interception.

With the win, the Spartans wrap up the post season with an undefeated record, and earn a bye straight through to the ROPSSAA Semi-Finals, where they will play the winner of the Quarter-Final matchup between the St. Marcellinus Spirit, and the St. Marguerite d’Youville Panthers.  The Crusaders, meanwhile, will host the St. Thomas Aquinas Cardinals for the right to play the St. Roch Ravens in the Semis.

Source: Lorne Park Spartans Football

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