After three straight wins, the North Shore bantam AAA Lions lost their first regular season game of 2012 Saturday at Émile Park in Laval in a 27-20 defeat to the Laval Cobras. The Lions pushed hard for a comeback in the final seconds of the game but weren’t able to get the tying touchdown and conversion with 5.9 seconds on a third-and-goal situation.
“They deserved to win, we made too many mistakes. They kept getting onside kicks and those were mistakes on our part. We knew this was coming but we just couldn’t stop it. It’s never fun to lose but it’s healthy to lose a couple to get better. I know that our team can do it but we just shot ourselves in the foot today. We went offside too many times, the onside kicks, we dropped passes,” said Lions’ head coach Warren McCaffrey.
Running back Shaied Sarpey-Birch took matters into his own hands after a Laval fumble at the Cobras’ 31-yard line near the end of the first half. With three consecutive runs, he punched a hole through the Cobras’ defence and got the touchdown with 6:00 remaining.
Laval got back into the game before half time. After a 15-yard pass interference penalty by the Lions that took them back to their 45-yard line, Cobras’ quarterback Sydney Lacombe-Tremblay threw a perfect pass to Justin Benoit who was at the 25-yard line. Benoit ran to the end zone to tie the game.
In the third quarter, the Lions revved up when quarterback Matthew Zatkovic attracted all defensive coverage to the right side on a first down at Laval’s 31-yard line and then did a lateral pass to Christopher Valentine who completely outflanked the Cobras for the Lions’ second touchdown of the game.
On Laval’s next possession, the Lions would suffer another costly 15-yard penalty that led to Jonathan Morales’s touchdown on a second-and-goal situation with 7:57 left in the third quarter. Morales wasn’t done creating problems for North Shore as he ran 53 yards for his second touchdown of the game with 13:33 remaining in the fourth quarter. Even though the Cobras missed their convert, they were still taking the lead 20-14.
After an onside kick by the Cobras, Laval took back possession on the next play. The Lions’ Jalen Charrette-Wells intercepted the ball at his 10-yard line three plays later but the celebration was cut short when his offence failed to obtain a first down on a fourth-and-one nine yards further, leaving the Cobras with a short field to play with as a result of a turnover on downs.
On the next play, Lacombe-Tremblay passed to Nicholas Costanza in the end zone for the touchdown which gave Laval a two-major lead with 8:50 left in regulation. The Lions would add a touchdown by Mark Attrill with 2:01 left in the game to put the score at 27-20 but it would be too little too late as their last rush would be contained with 5.9 seconds, a third-and-goal attempt North Shore wasn't able to capitalize on.
"They gave us a bit of a scare in the end but we knew it wasn't going to be easy. These aren't easy games. They are games that are played until the end. North Shore was able to come back strong in the second half and we knew it but we held on," said Cobras' head coach Jean Côté.