SAC Outlasts St. Mike’s in Rainy Conditions to Win Homecoming Game

by James Katsuras on Sep-21-2013


SAC beat their long time rivals, St. Mike's in their Homecoming Game in front of alumni and parents.
The Saint Andrew’s College Saints overcame the elements, several early penalties and sloppy play, with the help of 5 touchdowns from star running back Jonathan Femi-Cole, to beat their rivals St. Michael’s College School Kerry Blues at their homecoming by a score of 44-24 on Saturday afternoon.
The weather held up at the start of the game in Aurora, Ontario as SAC hosted the downtown Kerry Blues at 2:30 PM, but things quickly changed for the worse after the opening whistle. A constant rain marred the rest of the game, and because of it there were several dropped passes, punt return fumbles and generally sloppy play from both teams. SAC had a nice return by WR Ryan Keays on the opening punt, but a big run by Femi-Cole was brought back by a holding call, which foreshadowed what was to come later on. St. Mike’s had good field position after the punt, and after a few completions from star quarterback Calvin Vaughan, the Kerry Blues attempted a field goal, only to miss it and to have to settle for a rouge.
On the Saints’ next drive, superstar quarterback Chris Merchant did what he does best, which is making things happen. The Blues’ secondary was smartly blanketing and double-covering SAC’s star slotback Zach Marcus, so when Merchant didn’t have anyone to throw to he would scramble, as he did time and again throughout the game, to pick up massive chunks of yards and critical first downs. After a big run pickup by Merchant brought the Saints deep into St. Mike’s territory, Femi-Cole punched it in for a 7-1 SAC lead.
On the Kerry Blues next drive, Vaughan was moving the ball well on offense again, finding his favourite target WR Matthew Crocker early and often. They would eventually have to settle for a field goal again, and this time they would make it to bring the score to 7-4. On the Saints’ next offensive possession, Femi-Cole finally did the inevitable, which is bust out a huge 80-yard TD run that wasn’t getting called back for a penalty this time, and his second score of the day would make it 14-4 for SAC at the end of the first quarter.
The Kerry Blues would answer back almost immediately, however, as Vaughan would find Crocker in the end zone on a nice 25-yard touchdown pass to his favourite receiver, bringing the score to 14-11. The rain was really making the playing conditions brutal at this point and the field was quite slick, and on SAC’s next punt return Marcus would uncharacteristically fumble the ball, but his team would recover, albeit deep in their own territory. They would eventually punt, giving the Kerry Blues excellent field position.
The Kerry Blues would eventually start establishing their running game, as Duncan Coulson, Liam Grippo and Adrian Stellato were taking turns attacking the Saints D-Line. The combination of Cody McMillan and Duncan Robertson on the line and linebackers Fraser Sopik and Callum Green weren’t giving them much, however, and the Blues would eventually punt back to the Saints, and Keays would have another strung return, setting his team up with good field position again. Merchant would then find Marcus for a beautiful 50-yard completion over top the secondary in the middle of the field, showing off the pocket presence, the poise under centre and the rocket for an arm that already earned him a D1 NCAA scholarship to the University of Buffalo.
It soon became impossible for the Blues to stop Merchant, because if they loaded up the box he would find Marcus or Keays on slants, down the sidelines or overtop. If they spread out to cover the pass, he would scramble himself and gain too may yards, or worse still for the Blues, hand it off to the phenom Femi-Cole, like he did on the next play for a beautiful 20-yard TD run. Femi-Cole looked like he would be stopped dead in his tracks as he had a defender right in front of him, but instead he sidestepped and changed direction beautifully before bursting through and outrunning everyone for the score and a 20-11 SAC lead with 5:41 to go in the second quarter. Femi-Cole was finding these huge holes to run through because his offensive line, consisting of McMillan, Robertson, Adam Ashby, Riley Fischer and Jonathan Harvey were doing a terrific job of creating space for him.
On the Kerry Blues’ next offensive position, Vaughan’s pass would get picked off by Sopik, his first of two picks on the day, and he would run it back into St. Mike’s territory. After two straight pass completions to Marcus followed by one to Keays, Merchant would then hand it off to Femi-Cole who would scamper for 5 yards and his fourth touchdown of the day, and a 27-11 SAC lead with 53 seconds left in the half. Stellato had a big kick return on the next play to bring his team to midfield and a chance for some points before half, but Sopik would intercept Vaughan once again on an almost identical play to give his team the ball. After a big Femi-Cole run, Merchant missed the field goal but his team would get the rouge and a 28-11 lead heading into half.
It seemed as if the Saints would run away with this one, but the Kerry Blues started the second half strong, as Grippo had a big run and a big reception on a 40-yard sideline pass from Vaughan, followed by a short TD run by Coulson to bring St. Mike’s within 11 with the score at 28-17. Marcus would then take over the game for the Saints as he had a big punt return followed by a nice sideline reception, which preceded another beautiful run by Merchant for a 1st down deep in St. Mike’s territory. Merchant would kick the field goal himself to extend the lead to 31-17 with 5:29 left in the third, as the star player was not only quarterbacking but also handling the placekicking and punting duties for his team.
Stellato would have another massive kick return that set up excellent field position for his team, and Coulson would finish off the drive with a 20-yard TD run to bring the Kerry Blues to within a touchdown with the score at 31-24 at the end of the third. Vaughan was going shot for shot with Merchant, as he was making beautiful passes all game long and giving his team a chance to win. The game was starting to get tense, and the Blues seemingly had all the momentum as the players were fired up on the sidelines and on the field of play. But Merchant wouldn’t let them win, as he willed his team to first downs by firing strikes to Marcus and Keays, and absorbing big hits from the Blues defenders but courageously getting right back up for more time after time. Marcus was uncharacteristically dropping a few wide open passes, probably due to the weather, and Merchant would eventually throw a pick on a play that he was pressured and hit on, giving the Blues the ball with the chance to tie the game. Tempers would flair as Femi-Cole got into it with a St. Mike’s player after that play, but cooler heads would eventually prevail.
Unfortunately for St. Mike’s they couldn’t move the ball on SAC’s D and failed to capitalize on their excellent field position, instead going for the punt only to have a high snap and see the ball fly back over the punter’s hands. With the ball deep in St. Mike’s territory, SAC would put the game out of reach once and for all, as after a big Femi-Cole run Merchant would roll out and throw to Keays for his first passing touchdown of the day at a critical time and a 38-24 lead.
Finally, after a big Merchant punt, St. Mike’s would fumble the return and who else but Marcus would jump all over it to recover the ball for SAC, which set up Femi-Cole’s fifth touchdown run of the game and a final score of 44-24 for Saint Andrew’s College. St. Mike’s gave them an extremely competitive game and played them hard right to the end, and there was a moment when the game hung in the balance and it seemed like it could go either way, but the Saints D tightened up when it needed to and the offense did what it had to to take the game over.
This was a very exciting game from beginning to end, and fans could only hope that these teams meet again this season somewhere down the road in the playoffs.