For the first time since 2003, the Quebec bantam Football League will have a new AAA champion. The North Shore Lions were cleanly defeated on Saturday by the Sun Youth Hornets 41-28 in the opening round of the playoffs.
While the Lions were the only team to have officially defeated the Hornets during the regular season, their offence was outdone creatively and their defence could not hold the fort Saturday at Riverdale High School.
“We made too many mistakes in offence in the beginning and the defence just let us down in the end. It’s too bad because it’s a long season and these kids worked hard. They got better at each game. It’s tough when you lose a game like this where it should have been closer,” said Lions’ head coach Warren McCaffrey.
The Lions lost a good opportunity to get ahead in the beginning of the first quarter when they fumbled at Sun Youth’s 18-yard line. The Hornets opened the scoring in the beginning of the second quarter when running back Marcus Mitchell ran 52 yards for his first of two game touchdowns.
North Shore reacted on its next drive down the field. After the Hornets took a 15-yard roughing penalty that brought the ball to the 21-yard line, quarterback Matthew Zatkovic reached receiver Alexander John in the end zone to tie the game at 3:49 of the second quarter.
Sun Youth took back the lead three minutes later when quarterback Evangelos Zoubris faked a first handoff and gave the ball to Dynell Pierre who capitalized on a 30-yard rush.
Offensive leader Shaied Sarpey-Birch put the Lions back in the driver’s seat early in the third quarter with a 20-yard rush that gave North Shore a 14-13 lead after the convert kick.
Sun Youth’s offence ran the show for the rest of the game. Mitchell, with a 14-yard reception started the debacle at 12:25 of the third quarter. The Hornets got the onside kick on the kickoff and Pierre surprised the Lions with a 34-yard rush for the major on the next play to make the score 26-14.
Zatkovic connected with John again early in the fourth quarter to tighten up the score but Sun Youth added two majors later in the quarter to put the game out of reach for the Lions who finally bowed down 41-28.
“It was a tough game, very hard until the third quarter when we changed the momentum on them. We got two quick touchdowns there and we kept stopping them on our defence. They couldn’t do anything after that. They had a hard time running the ball on us. On the offence, we had a couple of inside patterns so they tried to change their defence and we caught them outside a few times and it worked for us,” said Hornets’ head coach Zack Da Costa.
In another first round playoffs match, the second-seeded Lakeshore Cougars defeated the Laval Cobras 26-20.