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Defence dominant as Steelers open NFC playoffs

Thanks to a strong performance on defence and capitalizing offensively, the Sault Steelers advanced in NFC playoff action on Saturday
2018-05-26 Sault Steelers vs Tri-City Outlaws DMH-6
Sault Steelers file photo. Donna Hopper/SooToday

Happy with the way their return to the field was this season after two years away, the Sault Steelers feel like they’re hitting their stride.

After capping off the Northern Football Conference regular season with a dramatic win over Sudbury two weeks ago, the Steelers opened the playoffs on Saturday night in convincing fashion.

The locals jumped out to an early lead and cruised to a 52-0 victory over the Oakville Longhorns on Saturday at Rocky DiPietro Field.

“The guys showed up prepared,” said Steelers coach Brandon Lewis. “We executed pretty well and did what we had to do in all three aspects of the game.”

In addition to capitalizing on their chances offensively, the Steelers also held the Longhorns offence at bay all night, holding the visitors to just two yards on the ground and 27 through the air in the win.

“It was quite the dominant performance by the defence, that’s for sure,” Lewis said. “They set out offence up in good field position and the offence finished.”

The Steelers opened the scoring early as Jesse Hill kicked a 19-yard field goal to make it 3-0 just over five minutes into the contest.

With 3:19 to go in the opening quarter, Taylor Holub picked up his first of two touchdowns on the day on a 14-yard pass from quarterback Ryan Yost. With the convert by Hill, the Steelers took a 10-0 lead.

As time expired in the opening quarter, the Steelers extended the lead thanks to a 46-yard touchdown pass from Yost to Brock Hoover to make the score 16-0.

The locals extended the lead early in the second quarter as Chris Solomon recovered a fumble in Oakville territory and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown. The major, combined with the subsequent convert by Hill made it 23-0.

Just under three minutes later, the Steelers took a 30-0 lead as Alanzo Clarke ran the ball in from 38 yards out and Hill capped off the play with the point after.

Late in the second quarter Tristan Marshall picked up a five-yard touchdown run to make the score 36-0 heading into the half.

Much like the opening quarter, the Steelers capped off the third quarter with a touchdown as time ran out. Holub picked up his second major of the evening on a 13-yard pass from Yost. With the convert by Hill, the Steelers took a 43-0 lead into the final quarter.

Just over five minutes into the fourth quarter, Ryan Barnes picked up a six-yard touchdown run. The convert by Hill on the play made the score 50-0 Steelers before the locals capped off the scoring with a safety with 2:59 to go.

Yost finished the day completing seven of 10 passes for 127 yards for the Steelers in the victory, throwing three touchdown passes in the process.

“He played solid today,” Lewis said of Yost. “He had some good command with the ball. He threw a couple of nice deep passes that Holub caught and anything underneath, he had Hoover scooping things up.”

Holub caught four passes in the win for 52 yards and a pair of touchdowns while Hoover had a pair of catches for 63 yards and a major.

Clarke ran the ball seven times for the Steelers for 83 yards and a touchdown in the win. Marshall added 72 yards rushing and a touchdown on 11 carries.

On the defensive side of the ball, Michael Reid led the Steelers with five tackles and two sacks.

Darian Belkosky had four tackles and a pair of sacks for the locals.

In addition to Solomon, Nate Edwards also had a fumble recovery for the Steelers while Darren Vlasoff picked off a pass by Oakville quarterback Dominic Florentino.

Florentino completed just four of 14 pass attempts in the loss for 27 yards and ran the ball for 13 yards on six carries.

Marcus Monticciolo caught two passes for 15 yards while C.J. Anekwuonye caught a pair as well for 12 yards.

Daran Harry had eight tackles for the Longhorns. Eric Pina and Salvador Torres chipped in with four tackles each.

The Steelers now advance to semifinal action next weekend on the road where they will face the Tri-City Outlaws.

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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 FoxSports.com in addition to regular freelance work with SooToday before joining the team full time.
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