On home field for the first time this season, the Sault Sabercats opened the home portion of their Ontario Football Conference schedule with a 22-13 win over the Waterloo Region Predators on Saturday afternoon.
The win came on the heels of a disappointing 26-23 loss to Sarnia last weekend.
“It was just a good effort all around,” said JV Sabercats Coach Jim Monico.
“I had called out the kids because of their intensity last week and I thought we brought it today,” Monico also said. “If we play at that level, we’ll be a lot better team.”
It was a contrast to a week ago when the Sabercats saw a 17-7 lead evaporate in the loss to Sarnia.
“Last week, we were not intense,” Monico also said. “We should have won that game. I have no problem in saying that.”
Nick Pagnotta got the Sabercats on the board early thanks to a 72-yard touchdown run in the opening minute of the contest. The Sabercats added a safety in the final minute of the opening quarter to take an 8-0 lead.
Waterloo would reply midway through the second quarter as Jon Dinglestad caught a pass from quarterback Matt Linn and ran the ball in for a 12-yard major.
The Sabercats would answer back on their next possession as Pagnotta ran the ball in from 57 yards out.
Late in the opening half and with Waterloo driving, Ethan Fawcett picked off a Linn pass and brought the ball back to mid-field.
After a 46-yard catch by Mitchell Dewar brought the ball to the Waterloo two-yard line, the Sabercats couldn’t convert and would take a 15-6 lead into the half.
Pagnotta would run the ball in a third time from 26 yards out on the Sabercats first possession of the second half to increase the lead.
Dinglestad would catch a second touchdown pass for Waterloo in the final seconds of the game to round out the scoring.
Pagnotta finished the day with three touchdowns and 260 yards rushing on 17 carries for the Sabercats.
“Nick’s a great player and we talked about riding him when we had to (today) and he made some big runs,” Monico said. “Our offensive line did a great job too and he got behind them and when he saw a hole, he was gone.”
Monico also credited the play of quarterback Tyler Brechin, in his first season at the position.
“He’s been getting better every game,” Monico said.
Brechin finished the day with 117 yards passing on five completions, two of which were caught by receiver Dylan Forsyth, who finished the day with 60 yards receiving.
Defensively, Zack Martin had a pair of sacks, three solo tackles and an assisted tackle. Luke Caccamo had four solo talks and an assisted tackle. Gavin Smith also had three tackles and an assisted tackle.
The win improves the Sabercats record to 1-1 heading into action next weekend.
The Sabercats return to action on June 16 at home against the Hamilton Hurricanes. Kickoff at Superior Heights is set for 1 p.m.