It was a game of momentum swings and the Sarnia Imperials capitalized when they had the chance and, in doing so, picked up a win over the Sault Steelers on Saturday night.
The Imperials scored a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter en route to a 34-17 win over the Steelers Saturday at Rocky DiPietro Field.
“In the fourth quarter, we couldn’t keep pace and (in the game) they had a couple of big plays that they scored on that were very deflating,” said Steelers player/coach Brandon Lewis.
Among the swings for Sarnia was a drive for a touchdown that included converting a fourth-and-long following a bad snap on a punt that led to Sarnia picking up a first down and eventually a touchdown that would tie the game early.
On the Steelers first drive of the game, Dalton Toppan caught a 25-yard catch to bring the ball to the Sarnia 21.
A run by Alonzo Clarke brought the ball to the Sarnia 6. Two plays later, a five-yard touchdown run by Clarke gave the Steelers the early lead. A convert by Brady Smith made the score 7-0 Steelers just over five minutes into the game.
Early in the second quarter and with the Imperials looking to punt on fourth down, a bad snap led to Josh Wright eventually running the ball to the Steelers 37 for a first down and allowing the visitors to maintain possession.
“It’s a broken play,” Lewis said. “He made a good, athletic play to outrun our contain and get the first down. It’s a change in momentum there. They get the ball back and a first down in our end. It’s a disheartening play. All of the guys felt that.”
Jason Kelly would eventually get the Imperials to the Sault 2 on a long catch. The Imperials capped the drive with a short touchdown run by Curtis Godfrey. With a convert by Josh Graham, the Imperials tied the game at seven just under four minutes into the second quarter.
On the subsequent kickoff, Clarke ran the ball 87 yards to the Sarnia 19.
The Steelers were forced to settle for a 26-yard field goal by Smith to take a 10-7 lead.
Sarnia took the lead as Micah Moore found himself wide open in the endzone for a 10-yard touchdown catch. With a convert by Graham, the Imperials took a 14-10 lead.
Sarnia maintained possession of the ball as the visitors recovered a short kick on the Steelers 45 but couldn’t capitalize.
With 23.5 seconds to go in the half, Toppan caught a 24-yard touchdown pass from Darrell Wood. With the convert by Smith, the Steelers took a 17-14 lead into the half.
Sarnia took the lead as Moore caught a touchdown pass from Julian Shadd-Gentry 1:45 into the fourth quarter to take a 20-17 lead after a missed convert.
Sarnia maintained possession on the subsequent kickoff after a fumble on the return.
The Imperials increased the lead on a touchdown catch by Wright. With the convert, Sarnia took a 27-17 lead
A 15-yard touchdown catch by Kelly and convert by Graham with 6:03 to go in the fourth quarter capped off the scoring for Sarnia.
Toppan caught three passes for 70 yards for the Steelers while Clarke ran for 90 yards on 14 carries.
Defensively for the Steelers, Ray Duplin had seven tackles and a fumble recovery while Andrew Batman had five tackles.
Shadd-Gentry finished the day with 10 completions on 29 pass attempts and 340 yards passing along with 107 yards rushing on 14 carries.
Moore caught five passes for 166 yards while Kelly had 105 yards receiving on five catches.
Cody Burt had six tackles and two sacks defensively for Sarnia.
The loss drops the Steelers record to 3-4.
After a bye week next week, the Steelers return to action on July 20 on the road against the North Bay Bulldogs to wrap up the NFC regular season.