Heartbreaker to end Steelers season (12 Photos)Sunday, August 18, 2013 by: Brad Coccimiglio
It was a battle between the teams with the best records in the Northern Football Conference and it was only fitting that the championship game came down to the final moments before crowing a champion.
The Sault Steelers (7-1) hosted the Montreal Transit (7-1) in the NFC final on Saturday night at Rocky DiPietro Field.
The Transit, competing in their first season in the league, needed a field goal from William Dion from 35-yards out to beat the Steelers 24-23 and win the NFC title. The Steelers got the ball back with just under 20 seconds left in the game but couldn’t find the Transit end zone in the final moments.
“I’m sure that everyone who got to watch it thought it was one of the best games played on this field in the past few years,” said Steelers coach Brandon Lewis. “It was two dynamic, power offenses and two big defences going at it all day. It just came down to a few plays late in the game.”
For the Transit, the win came after the Steelers jumped out to an early 13-0 lead only to have the visitors battle back with a pair of touchdowns in the second quarter. A late first half field goal had the Steelers up by just two points at the half.
After a scoreless third quarter, the Steelers took a 23-14 lead on a Josh Gauthier touchdown run early in the fourth quarter. Montreal pulled to within two points and set the stage for Dion’s heroics when quarterback Alex Jourdain scampered into the Steelers end zone from eight yards out.
Offensively for the Steelers, Josh Gauthier ran the ball 28 times for 253 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
“Josh means a hell of a lot to our offense and our team as a whole,” Lewis said. “He carried the load all season behind the offensive line. We did a job taking it to them running the ball but they came to play too.”
Quarterback Matt Leask completed six of nine passes for 67 yards while also kicking a pair of converts and three field goals in the win. The field goals came from 25-, 20-, and 17-yards out.
Defensively, Jeff McAllister and Matt Gauthier had five tackles each for the Steelers.
For Montreal, Francois Bruno had 106 yards receiving on seven catches, including one from 16 yard out for a touchdown. Theagene Bilardy caught five passes for 76 yards in the win. Jourdain completed 18 of 29 passes for 184 yards while also running for 56 yards on 12 carries.
Andrew Blevings had 11 tackles defensively for Montreal.
“By far (this was the toughest game of the year),” said Lewis. “We knew going it. You hear what they are and see what they do, we knew they were going to be tough. They held so many teams to zero points, you knew we were in for a battle.”
With the win, the Transit will host the Canadian Major Football League championship game on Sept. 28 against the Alberta League champion.
Photos courtesy Kenneth Armstrong