It wasn’t perfect, but for their first regular season game of the Ontario Summer Football League they’ll certainly take the result.
The Sault Sabercats junior varsity team ran to a 36-12 victory over the North Bay Bulldogs Saturday afternoon at Rocky DiPietro Field.
After mistakes were an issue one week earlier in an exhibition game against the Etobicoke Eagles on the road, the issue crept up at times again on Saturday for the team.
“We made too many mistakes, and I told the guys that at halftime,” said Sabercats coach Jim Monico. “That’s two weeks in a row that we made a lot of mistakes, but the second half here was a little bit better.”
For the locals, a cleaner second half and a solid defensive effort were positives in the victory.
“Maybe as a defensive bias, I was really impressed with our tackling today,” said Sabercats co-coach Will Basawa. “I was very happy with that. A lot of different guys made tackles, which is always nice to see on the stats sheet and then when you look at the form of the tackles, everyone is safe and making a good clean tackle.”
“The offence early on put them in some bad spots,” added Monico. “They bailed us out a few times.”
The Sabercats opened the scoring just under four minutes into the game as Ethan Serrao ran the ball in from two yards out. After a missed two-point convert attempt, the Sabercats led 6-0 through one quarter.
North Bay got on the board in the second quarter as Mathieu Desbiens ran the ball in from two yards out to tie the game after the Bulldogs couldn’t convert the extra point attempt.
The Sabercats proceeded to take the lead again as Nathan Guizzetti ran the ball in from 29 yards out. A two-point convert by Garrin Pine made the score 14-6.
North Bay pulled back to within two later in the quarter as Desbiens picked up his second major of the game on a five-yard catch from quarterback Dayne Meyer.
Guizzetti picked up his second touchdown of the day late in the half, running the ball in from 32 yards out. The Sabercats took a 22-12 lead into the half as Pine picked up a two-point convert on the touchdown.
Just over three minutes into the second half, Cole Rivet caught a pass from Alex Varpio in coverage and ran the ball in for a 43-yard touchdown. The two-point convert attempt was no good, leaving the score at 28-12 Sabercats.
The Sabercats extended the lead with just under six minutes to go in the fourth quarter as Albert Perreault ran the ball in from one yard out. Pine picked up a two-point convert on the play to make the score 36-12 Sabercats.
Payton Melchiorre paced the Sabercats run game with 137 yards on 10 carries.
Guizzetti finished the day with 114 yards rushing on six carries while Pine added 88 yards rushing on eight carries.
As a group, the Sabercats ran the ball for 429 yards in the win.
Defensively for the Sabercats, Hunter Dickinson had 6.5 tackles and Aiden Wonch had six.
Desbiens finished the day with 26 yards receiving on four catches.
Meyer ran the ball five times for 38 yards for the Bulldogs. Finn St. Louis added 30 yards rushing on a pair of carries.
Defensively for the Bulldogs, Max Dufresne had 7.5 tackles while Brady Wood added six tackles and Samuel Comeau added 5.5 in the loss.
The Sabercats return to action next weekend at home when they host the Sudbury Spartans at Superior Heights. Kickoff time is 1 p.m.
The Varsity Sabercats were also slated to play Saturday afternoon against North Bay’s varsity game, but the game was forfeited by the Bulldogs, who withdrew from the league prior to the season beginning.
The Sabercats varsity team is also in action next weekend in a 4 p.m. kickoff at Superior Heights against Sudbury’s varsity team.