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Varsity Sabercats season ends in overtime (14 photos)

The Sault Sabercats varsity team fell in overtime to the Brantford Bisons in OFC playoff action

The Ontario Football Conference’s Sault Sabercats and Brantford Bisons seemingly don’t know how to play a boring football game.

The two clubs met to open the season and the Sabercats overcame a 38-16 halftime deficit to beat the Bisons 41-38 at Superior Heights locally.

On Saturday night, the Bisons used a late touchdown to force overtime, which set the stage for a 35-yard touchdown run in overtime by Mathieu Clarke and convert by Justin Riley gave the Bisons a 31-24 playoff victory over the Sabercats at Superior Heights.

An interception by London Dawson on the Sabercats subsequent possession sealed the Brantford win.

“I’m happy with the way we played,” said Sabercats coach Matt Premo. “We battled right to the end. When it comes down to a situation like that in overtime, it could go either way and it doesn’t take much to sway the game one way or the other.

“We had a chance to win it in overtime,” Premo added. “We had an eight-point lead and I would like to see us defend that and not give up the touchdown and two-point conversion but that’s a good team over there. Their offence was probably one of the best in the league this year and for a reason. There’s nothing to hang our heads about.”

Brantford opened the scoring as the Sabercats conceded a safety with 4:26 to go in the opening quarter.

A bad snap recovered in the endzone by Brantford’s Damian Bloomfield increased the lead to 8-0 Brantford with 2:33 to go in the first quarter.

After a 40-yard catch by Dylan Forsyth got the Sabercats deep into Brantford territory, Tyler Brechin caught a short touchdown pass from Jordan Robinson-Wright to make the score 7-6 after a missed extra point.

A missed field goal by the Bisons made the score 8-6 though the Bisons would take a 9-6 lead into the half thanks to a single on a punt into the Sabercats endzone.

The Bisons increased the lead as Clarke caught a pass and ran the ball in for a 46-yard major. With the convert, the Bisons took a 16-7 lead.

Nick Pagnotta responded for the Sabercats with a 23-yard touchdown run with 6:02 to go in the second quarter. With the convert by Gabe Spina, the Bisons lead was cut to 16-14.

The Sabercats tied the game after Brantford conceded a safety with just over three minutes to go in the third quarter and took a 17-16 lead after a punt by Brechin rolled through the Brantford endzone.

Thanks to a seven-yard touchdown run by Pagnotta and convert by Gabe Spina, the Sabercats took a 24-16 lead with 3:50 to go in the fourth quarter.

Joshua MacKay caught a 34-yard touchdown pass with 2:29 to go for a touchdown for the Bisons. The subsequent two-point convert by Evan Smith tied the game at 24.

With 35.1 seconds to go, after turning the ball over on downs seconds earlier the Bisons got the ball back after a Sabercats fumble on their own 35 but couldn’t capitalize.

To start overtime, both teams went three-and-out after Brantford won the toss and got the ball first.

Each team started their overtime drives from the 35-yard line.

Pagnotta finished the day with 160 yards rushing on 15 carries while Forsyth had 61 yards receiving on five catches. Taylor Holub had 57 yards receiving on four catches.

Robinson-Wright completed 15 of 29 passes for 188 yards and a touchdown.

Clarke finished the day with 210 yards rushing on 18 carries.

Defensively for Brantford, Bobby Hardwick had nine tackles while Carlos Servellon had eight. In addition to his overtime pick, Dawson had six tackles.

Evan Sicoli had six tackles and blocked a kick for the Sabercats. Ethan West had five tackles and an interception for the Sabercats. Julian Gioia had five tackles and two sacks while Zack Politano also had five tackles.


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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