Holy Cross finally hoists KASSAA football trophy

The streak or drought, depending on which high school football colours you sport, is over.

The Holy Cross Crusaders upset the Frontenac Falcons 28-9 Sunday afternoon for their first-ever senior title in 23 years. For the Falcons, the string of KASSAA championships ends at three.

Frontenac coach Mike Doyle said his team prepared well, but Holy Cross receiver and championship game MVP Joey MacDonald would beg to differ.

“I don’t think they took us as seriously as they should have, really,” said MacDonald, who made several unbelievable catches Sunday afternoon.

“They’re a great team, too, but this year I guess we are a better team and we let them know that here,” he added.

Frontenac appeared to be caught napping in the first half, thinking Holy Cross was going to follow the script and lose in its fourth final in five years. The Crusaders had a 10-1 lead at the end of the first quarter with all of the points coming after Frontenac turnovers. Holy Cross quarterback John Sullivan hooked up with MacDonald for a 40-yard touchdown pass to put the Crusaders out in front.

Holy Cross held its ground in the second quarter, building a 14-2 lead at the break after Aaron Gazendam booted a safety and a field goal.

Frontenac came alive at the start of the third quarter. Falcons quarterback Marshall Ferguson marched his team down the field. Running back Robbie Carnegie finished off the drive with a nine-yard touchdown run after Holy Cross was whistled for an illegal substitution.

The touchdown was a huge shift in momentum, but Holy Cross answered right back on its next drive. After just barely keeping the drive alive by inches on a third-down gamble, Sullivan once again hit MacDonald down the sidelines for a huge gain. That set up an eight-yard TD pass to Logan Kidson that restored Holy Cross’ 12-point lead.

In the fourth quarter, Sullivan scored a touchdown on a quarterback keep with over seven minutes remaining in the game and the Holy Cross defence held Frontenac off the scoreboard the rest of the way to seal the championship.

The Frontenac coach thought the game might have been different had the Falcons continued to build off the third-quarter major.

“If we could have scored twice when we had a bit of a wind behind us in the third quarter, I thought that would have set us up nicely for the fourth (quarter), but they (the Crusaders) just seemed to answer the call with their offence,” Doyle said.

MacDonald’s big plays were the difference by Doyle’s assessment.

“There were catches made when we had good coverage that really turned the tide a bit. At times there, our defence played tough as nails. But then Joey MacDonald was there every time to dig them out of the hole,” he said.

MacDonald said he has built a good rapport with Sullivan over the past two years.

“Johnny was putting the ball right where he knew I could get them. We have played together for two years and he knows my speed. He can put it there and he knows I can get there,” he said.

Holy Cross coach Tim Pendergast said the 34-10 loss in the regular season to Frontenac showed the Crusaders what they needed to do better to beat the Falcons.

“Try to disrupt the flow of Marshall Ferguson who lit us up in the first game and then try to score some points and try to control the ball and beat up their defensive line,” said Pendergast when asked about the game plan going into the final. “But we ended up making some big pass plays that we weren’t counting on.”

MacDonald said Holy Cross did a good job of keeping Ferguson off balance the entire game.

“Brett Murphy really smacking Marshall. He (Ferguson) was rattled a lot of the game. He really didn’t expect us to come out that hard on defence because of the score last time,” MacDonald said.

Pendergast said the victory was “a big monkey off the back,” a sentiment echoed by several players.

“Right before the game, Coach Ball said that years in the future we could be the first team and no one could take that away from us. That’s just an unreal feeling,” said Sullivan, the Holy Cross quarterback.

With one first out of the way, Holy Cross will try to win its first National Capital Bowl. That quest begins today against the TISS Pirates from Brockville.

Source: Kingston Community news

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