Cougars 24 Rebels 21
If the Notre Dame Cougars and the Rocky Mountain House Rebels had left Great Chief Park Thursday evening tied no one would have complained.
In fact it almost seemed unfair that the Central Alberta High School Football League contest wasn’t tied.
The Cougars managed to come away with a 24-21 victory, only because Rebels Chris Soodsma had his 15-yard field goal attempt from the right hash marks hit the right goal post and stay out with a little over two minutes remaining in the game.
“It should have been tied,” said Rebels head coach Vance Curtis.
“We think we have a (solid) team and they came out to show it. This was our first real complete game of the season. The kids did a wonderful job and I wish for them we would have at least tied it. They deserved it.”
In fact the Rebels came within a whisker of winning it. Quarterback Brayden Friesen missed an open receiver in the end zone on the play just prior to the field goal attempt. The receiver got caught up in traffic just a bit and Friesen had to release the ball a touch before he wanted to.
Cougars head coach Gino Castellan felt his team weren’t at their best, but gave credit to the Rebels.
“It wasn’t our best effort. We came out a little flat, but they’re a big team and put the boots to us. They played very well and I’m glad they did. I’m glad we won, but they played well. Well enough to win. Then again we played well enough to win as well.”
The Cougars finished with 365 yards in offence, including 232 on the ground. The Rebels had 266 yards, with 205 on the ground.
The Cougars came into the game without six regulars, including both offensive guards and fullback and starting middle linebacker, Luc Laplante.
“We were without six guys then lost three more starters, so we had a lot of new guys in there,” said Castellan. “They made some mistakes, but then some played well. That’s football.
“What we did do well was sustain a couple of drives when we needed to which will help down the road.”
One of those drives came midway through the second quarter with the Rebels holding a 14-7 lead. The Cougars marched 106 yards in six plays with Jordan Briault capping it off on an 11-yard pass and run play with quarterback Kieran Pruden. The big play was a 65-yard pass and run play between Pruden and Ryan Davis that took the ball from the Notre Dame 16 to the Rocky 29.
The Rebels opened the scoring at 4:44 of the first quarter on a one-yard run by Castin Anger and Soodsma kicked the first of his three converts. The Cougars defence got them even when Dustin Schaber picked off Friesen and went 77 yards for a pick-six. It was converted by Luis Moreno, who had three converts and the game-winning field goal of 16 yards at 7:24 of the final quarter.
Anger scored the Rebels second major on an 84 yard run while Soodsma had the final score for Rocky when he took the opening kickoff of the second half 80 yards.
Myles Corsiatto had the Cougars third touchdown on a three-yard run at 11:34 of the second quarter.
Corsiatto was one of two running backs that were injured for the Cougars. He limped off in the third quarter and was replaced by Schaber, who also injured a ankle.
Kieran Mill, who started at fullback, moved back to tailback and was solid, carrying the ball 17 times for 72 yards. Corsiatto had 112 yards on 16 carries before he was hurt.
Anger had 93 yards on five carries, Dylan Bowersock 56 on five and Soodsma 44 on 10 for the Rebels.
“Our skilled positions are really talented and we are deep,” said Curtis. “But this was the first game where our offence helped out the defence, but just not quite enough.”
Both teams made enough big plays to keep everyone in the stands off their hands.
“There was some brilliant plays, but hats off to both defences,” said Curtis. “There was no give on either side.”
Pruden finished with five completions in 14 attempts, hitting Briault four times for 68 yards. Friesen was good on three of 11 for 61 yards
There are three games tonight with Lacombe at Lindsay Thurber at 7:30 p.m. at Great Chief Park, Wetaskiwin at Sylvan Lake at 4:30 p.m. and Hunting Hills at Stettler at 4:30 p.m.
Cougars return to action next Friday at Sylvan Lake while the Rebels visit Camrose.
— copyright Red Deer Advocate