It was a good news/bad news day for the Sault's two amateur football games on Saturday as the Sabercats won and the Storm lost.
On a soft and soupy Rocky DiPietro Field, the Sault Sabercats won their second consecutive game on home soil in the afternoon opener, 27-6 over the favored Steel City Ironmen from Hamilton in Ontario Varsity Football League action.
The Sault Storm capped the evening with a sloppy performance to allow the Belleville Panthers to come-from-behind late in the game to win the Northern Football Conference contest 7-6.
In the Sabercats' tilt, the locals, ranked tenth in the OVFL, built a 12-6 half-time lead over the number four Ironmen. A stern reminder by head coach Ross Viotto at the half to stay focused and disciplined against the undisciplined Ironmen paid dividends in the second half.
Hurt by taking objectionable conduct after objectionable conduct penalties and poor execution with a wet ball on offense, the Ironmen handed the Sabercats excellent field position.
Sean Pratt, on his only carry of the season to date, from five yards out, and Josh Gauthier, from a yard out, scored second half touchdowns to melt Steel City.
Gauthier, who rushed for 96 yards on 22 carries, also scored a touchdown in the first half on a nifty 66 yard punt return. Kicker Anthony Posteraro hit field goals from 19 and 24 yards out to go with a pair of converts and a single off a kickoff.
Ben Leuenberger made his Sabercat debut at fullback and pounded his way to 36 yards. Quarterback Travis McLean continued to look more comfortable with the offense, completing eight of nine passes for 80 yards. Tight end Tony Boniferro had an outstanding game making six catches for 70 yards.
Adam Ross led the Sabercat defense with 7.5 tackles to go with a pair of fumble recoveries. Mike Palombi recovered two fumbles while Sean Pratt, with 5.5 tackles, and Rob Signoretti recovered one each. Joel Aro and Kurt Morrison recorded an interception each. Quintino Dilabio also made 4.5 tackles from the defensive back position.
The Sault Storm, meanwhile, saw the visitors rain on its parade in a sloppy game on both sides of the ball by both teams.
Kegan Franklin's three-yard touchdown run with 38 seconds remaining in the first half put the Storm ahead 6-0 and would seem for the longest time to be enough to secure a win.
But a costly turnover late in the game gave Belleville the chance for a late drive. And with the passing game starting to click, the panthers drove down the field and scored with 1:05 left on a two yard quarterback sneak by Gregg Garrity. With the convert, the Panthers took the lead and held the rest of the way.
The Storm managed just 155 yards total offense including 55 on the ground led by Toby Traveson's 20 yards. Quarterback Tim Higgins completed 10 of 16 passes for 100 yards with Kyle Lansdell catching six balls for 56 yards.
Defensively the Storm managed to hold Belleville to 180 yards total offense but holes in the Storm secondary were exposed late in the game. Brandon Lewis made 5.5 tackles while Jaysson Piercy, used primarily as a running back last season, made his Storm debut this season and recorded 4.5 tackles from the secondary. Jamie Kennedy recovered two fumbles while interceptions were made by Troy Boyer and James Albidone.
The Sabercats, now 2-1, will hit the I-75 to Windsor to play the powerful Essex Ravens next Saturday evening while the Storm will be at Rocky DiPietro Field for the third consecutive weekend against the Mega City Madmen in a 7 p.m. start.