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Big play on special teams a game-changer (12 photos)

An early second half kickoff return for a touchdown broke open a tight game and led to the Sault Sabercats varsity team suffering its first loss of the Ontario Football Conference season

A pair of second half touchdowns and not capitalizing on a pair of chances in the first half hurt the Sault Sabercats on Sunday afternoon.

The Waterloo Region Predators used touchdowns early in the third quarter and late in the fourth to break open what was a tight game at the half and beat the Sabercats 27-10 on Sunday at Superior Heights in Ontario Football Conference action.

In a tight opening half, the Sabercats didn’t capitalize on a pair of opportunities deep in Waterloo territory with the game close.

“We got inside the red zone twice and came away with no points and that’s huge,” said Sabercats coach Matt Premo.

The Sabercats opened the scoring on a three-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Robinson-Wright to Tyler Brechin just over four minutes into the contest. Cole Taz hit the extra point

A pair of field goals by James Wilson got Waterloo on the board and the Predators took the lead late in the opening quarter when quarterback Adam Shoemaker hit Nigel Morris for a 48-yard pass and run for a touchdown. With a convert by Wilson, Waterloo took a 13-7 lead.

Waterloo conceded a safety, making the score 13-9 Predators with 6:26 to go in the half.

Coming out of the half, Morris returned the kickoff 70 yards for a touchdown. With a convert by Wilson, Waterloo took a 20-9 lead.

“That was tough,” Premo said of giving up the score to start the half. “We tried to stay focused but it’s tough when you give up a big special teams play. It’s a momentum swing. We talk about getting those plays ourselves.

“Those can change the tide of a game,” Premo added. “It was a tight game at that point. Things were really close and that made it a two-score game and your play-calling changes a bit at that point.”

Things got tougher for the Sabercats when Robinson-Wright went down with an injury early in the third quarter.

Details on his injury were limited following the game and Premo said Robinson-Wright would be re-evaluated.

“We’ll get him in right away to get treatment,” Premo said.

A missed field goal attempt by Taz resulted in the Sabercats getting a single point to make the score 20-10 with 1:23 to go in the third quarter.

Ethan West got the Sabercats deep into Waterloo territory with just under five minutes to go in the fourth on an interception returned to the Waterloo 21.

The Sabercats got down to the Waterloo eight but couldn’t punch the ball in, giving Waterloo the ball back with 2:30 to go.

Jack St. Hilaire caught a 30-yard touchdown pass with 1:29 to go. That and the subsequent convert by Wilson capped off the scoring.

Prior to his injury, Robinson-Wright completed 13 of 23 passes for 176 yards.

Brechin, who had a pair of pass attempts at quarterback after Robinson-Wright’s injury, finished the day with 62 yards receiving on five catches while Taylor Holub caught a pair of passes for 59 yards.

Nick Fowler completed one of five pass attempts for six yards in a stint at quarterback for the Sabercats.

Defensively for the Sabercats, Eli Provenzano had five tackles. Julian Gioia had two tackles, three assisted tackles and two solo sacks with four assisted sacks. Jacob Jurich had four tackles and three assisted tackles.

For the Predators, Shoemaker completed 15 of 22 pass attempts and 276 yards with a pair of touchdown passes.

St. Hilaire caught four passes for 68 yards while Morris had 68 yards receiving on three catches.

Defensively for Waterloo, Brayden Schneider had eight tackles.

The loss drops the Sabercats record to 4-1-1. Waterloo moves to 4-1-1 as well.

The Sabercats return to action on July 6 on the road against Brampton before wrapping up regular season action on July 13 on the road in Hamilton.

On the heels of a bye this week, the JV Sabercats return to action on July 7 on the road against Hamilton before wrapping up the regular season at home on July 13 against Sarnia.


Brad Coccimiglio

About the Author: Brad Coccimiglio

A graduate of Loyalist College’s Sports Journalism program, Brad Coccimiglio’s work has appeared in The Hockey News as well as online at in addition to regular freelance work with SooToday before joining the team full time.
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