The North Shore Bantam AAA Lions won the Coupe d’Or AAA Quebec Bantam Football League (QBFL) provincial championship Sunday at St. Leonard’s Stade Hébert when they defeated the Laurentides-Lanaudière Wildcats by a score of 29-20.
The Lions scored a single on the game kickoff, a touchdown by Zack Fitzgerald on his first of four game interceptions and a convert by place kicker Fransisco Galiana-Audet in the first quarter. The Lions were leading 8-0 at the beginning of the second quarter. George Hope retaliated for the Wildcats at the end of the first half with a touchdown from the two-yard line but the Wildcats missed their two-point convert attempt. The Lions were ahead 8-6 at half-time.
Throwing from North Shore’s 40-yard line, quarterback Justin McInnis reached Raoul Baroudi at the Wildcats’ 40-yard line and the latter ran the rest of the distance for the touchdown at 1:48 in the third quarter. With the convert, the Lions were ahead 15-6. Laurentides-Lanaudière responded with a touchdown on their next possession as Mathieu Demers barely caught his quarterback’s pass at the edge of the Lions’ end zone. Antoine Tremblay got the conversion kick to put the score at 15-13 for the Lions.
Completely unfazed, the Lions came back with a major of their own on their next possession. McInnis threw passed to Baroudi who juggled with the ball for a few seconds before running for a 65-yard touchdown with 9:39 to go in the third quarter. This put the score at 22-13 after the convert kick.
Two minutes later, the Wildcats’ offence was knocking on the door again. Demers caught a six-yard pass inside the end zone for the major with 6:54 left in the quarter. After the convert, the Wildcats had reduced the Lions’ lead to two mere points.
The Lions came roaring back to life on the ensuing kickoff. It was Baroudi who caught the Wildcats’ kickoff and he ran through the whole field for the touchdown. The convert was good and the Lions were up 29-20 at 8:28 in the third quarter. The Lions never looked back and held on for the win.
Wildcats’ head coach Alain Gauvin was proud of his squad despite the loss after the game.
“We would have liked to get out of here with a win but losing is part of the game. Our defence was impeccable once again but they were simply better than us on the field,” he said.
Lions’ head coach Jean-Marc Michel told The Chronicle after the game that his team stuck to the game plan and that proved to be a decisive factor in his team’s victory.
“It’s a great feeling right now. As I’ve said before, you never underestimate the heart of a champion. My kids came to play and I told them from the get-go ‘if we play like North Shore Lions, we’ll win, that if something didn't work, not to panic and go to next play and make it work,” he said.