Malcolm Lee’s last-minute touchdown gave the St. Thomas More Knights a 19-12 upset win over the No. 2-ranked Terry Fox Ravens on Friday.
In a wild second half that had more twists and turns than a cheap dime thriller, STM’s plucky defence kept giving the Knights the opportunity they needed to punch in the game-winning score.
“We battled and we won out,” said an elated STM head coach Bernie Kully after the game. “We started to believe and I think our conditioning was evident in the fourth quarter. Sometimes hard work pays off.”
While no one would dispute Kully’s final words, there were moments when the outcome could have gone in either team’s favour.
Tied 12-12 at half time, Terry Fox took the opening third-quarter kickoff the length of the field only to have its 18-yard field goal attempt blocked.
On their next possession of the half, the Knights had a couple of big plays go for naught.
Noah Usherwood, who scored on Kevin Marshall’s forced fumble on Fox’s opening possession, had a long, 30-yard run called back on an illegal procedure call. Shane Noel also had a 15-yard run whistled back on the drive that eventually stalled inside the Fox red zone.
Then the fourth-quarter fun started.
With a chance of good field position, STM stopped the Ravens three-and-out, but Fox got the ball back at midfield on a misjudged punt return.
Jordan McKenzie gave STM back the ball with his first of two fumble recoveries in the final quarter.
“Near the end, we just needed to believe. Our defence was holding us in, we just needed to believe,” said McKenzie, who gave STM back the ball a second time after J.J. DesLauriers was intercepted at the Fox 34-yard line.
But that opportunity also resulted in a turnover on downs.
But with two minutes left to play, a 20-yard interception return by Massimo Pozzolo gave the Knights one last opportunity.
Two passes to Andrew Flett put STM on the Terry Fox three-yard line, Lee did the rest, scoring the game-winning TD with just 37 seconds left on the clock.
“Malcolm came in and played one of the best games of this life, maybe in the program,” said Kully. “It sure is a nice feeling to pull one out in the fourth quarter.”
Lee finished with 117 yards rushing and 73 yards passing.
Flett had 82 total rushing and receiving yards. Marshall had 53 yards receiving.
With the win, STM moved into sole possession of second place in the Eastern conference, two points behind unbeaten Lord Tweedsmuir.
Anthony Carteri, who scored STM’s second TD of the first quarter also had seven tackles on defence.
Nick Landolt led the Knights with nine tackles. McKenzie had seven tackles and two sacks. Usherwood and Darthe Cappelan had five tackles apiece.
After a poor week of practice that led to the team’s shutout loss to Tweedsmuir, Kully believes the win over Fox could be a season-changer.
“It just shows if we play to our potential we can play with anyone in the province. It restores the belief in self,” Kully said.
STM takes on 1-4 Mt. Boucherie at Burnaby Lake Sports Complex-West on Friday at 4:30 p.m.
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