The two best offensive machines in the Quebec bantam football league squared off Friday night at Riverdale High School and the North Shore Lions came out on top against the Laurentian Wildcats in a wild game that ended 48-43.
“Our offence is doing well but we have to shore up defensively. Defence wins championships. We just couldn’t get to the quarterback today. We have to be harder and harder in the future and commit to that. That’s how you win championships,” said Lions head coach Warren McCaffrey.
Trailing 7-0, the Lions came back from behind near the end of the first quarter. Zatkovic faked a handoff to running back Shaied Sarpey-Birch so well the referees whistled the play dead as soon as the running back got tackled, but they were all fooled. Zatkovic had kept the ball and got to the Wildcats' five-yard-line and punched it in shortly thereafter to knot the score.
After a Wildcats' field goal, an incredible 40-yard run by Alexander John got the Lions in a position to score at the sixth minute of the quarter. Zatkovic 's pass forced Mark Atrill to make a great catch in the end zone to put the Lions back in front 14-10.
The Wildcats took back the lead with a two-yard major from Adam Richer at 9:54 of the second quarter but once again, the Lions’ offence came through to put the team back in the lead. From a snap at the cats’ 50-yard line, Sarpey-Birch scored untouched with 2:25 left in the half.
The Wildcats started to air the ball out at that point. After a 17-yard pass to Christophe Labelle, the Wildcats' quarterback threw a 28-yard pass to Bruno Labelle that put his team in scoring position. Raphaël Deguire would get the one-yard touchdown four plays later to make the score 23-21with 49 seconds to go before the half.
At that point, the Lions went to work, putting on a clinic in explosiveness. On the first play following the kickoff, Zatkovic passed to Atrill for a 63-yard touchdown. On the Wildcats ensuing possession, Laurentian threw an interception with 6.7 seconds to go. With one play to get to the end zone before halftime, Zatkovic hit Christopher Valentine on a 62-yard scoring giving the Lions a 35-23 lead.
Three late Wildcats scores were mitigated by the Lions' game-icing touchdown with 4:41 to play in the fourth quarter, giving the Lions a heart-stopping win.
“We’ve got a good aerial game and normally a good running game but today it didn’t work the way we wanted to. We believed in the win until the end but my guys had trouble just before halftime. We came back in the fourth quarter but we would have needed an extra minute or two,” said Wildcats’ head coach Alain Gauvin.