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Sturgeon JV Victorious in an Epic Battle
July 30, 2012
They stared down the barrel and didn't flinch. The Sarnia Sturgeon Junior Varsity team summoned all their courage and skill to prevail in the South Division O.F.C. semi-final Friday night against the Forest City Thunderbirds from London at Norm Perry Park. To those who were fortunate enough to see it, this was one of the most exciting football games to be witnessed at Norm Perry Park in recent years.

The Thuderbirds came out flying, with a surprise no huddle offense and drove the length of the field in 6 plays to take a 7-0 lead before the game was 3 minutes old. The Sturgeon responded on their resulting possession with a 40 yard touchdown pass on a third and 17 from quarterback Josh Elsley to Ramon Bastillo. Following a couple of defensive stands, the Thunderbirds connected on a 45 yard pass and run play to the speedy Noah Olynyk for a 14-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The first time Sarnia had the ball in the second quarter, the Forest City defense appeared to force the Sturgeon to punt, but a daring fake punt call and resultant run by Mitchell Smiley kept the drive alive. Three plays later, Smiley streaked 38 yards on a reverse and Blake Maxfield's convert tied the game at 14. Forest City scored twice more before the half, on touchdown passes of 45 and 35 yards, for a 28-14 half time lead. Prior to this game, the most points surrendered by the usual stingy Sturgeon defense in any full game was 19.

Bastillo ran the opening kick-off of the second half back for a touchdown, the convert was missed but the Sturgeon had closed the gap to 28-20. Sarnia's defense stood tall and forced a punt on the next Thunderbird drive. The Sturgeon then began a long, surgical march down the field that culminated on a 14 yard run by Smiley. A two point convert on a pass from Elsley to Yenel Olivero evened the score at 28. Each team scored once more in the third quarter as first Forest City regained the lead, then Dale Bressette ran 65 yards and the convert by Maxfield knotted the game at 35 after three quarters.

In the fourth quarter, after a couple of defensive stops by each team, Bressette again scampered for a touchdown, this time 78 yards and the Sturgeon had their first lead of the game. The Thunderbirds did not fold and scored to tie the game at 42 with 4 munutes remaining. Sarnia then began a drive they hoped would win the game, but an interception by Forest City, the first turnover of the game, put contol of the game back in their potent offense's hands. They slowly drove down the field for the winning points. With the ball on the Sturgeon 20 and less than a minute to play, Tristan Arndt, the brilliant quarterback for Forest City, had his first turnover of the game. A stunning interception by Marco Parete saved the Sturgeon season and sent the game to a shootout, where each team would have a possession from the 35. If the score remained tied this pattern would continue until there was a victor.

Forest City won the toss and elected to play defense first. The Sturgeon offense was up to the challenge and drove the ball down to the 1 yard line behind the bruising running of Yenel Olivero and effective blocking by the offensive line. A one yard quarterback sneak by Elsley resulted in a touchdown. More drama was yet to follow however, as the convert hit the upright. A touchdown now by the Thunderbirds and a successful convert from their place kicker, who was 6 for 6 on the night, would give them the victory. On their first play from the 35 the Thunderbirds went for it all but the pass was broken up on the Sturgeon 5 yard line by Paul Webb. A short completion moved the ball to the Sturgeon 30. On the next play Arndt, who threw 74 passes in the game, hit his receiver on the 20 for an apparent first down. A hard tackle by Nick Paquette jarred the ball loose. The opportunistic Mitchell Smiley pounced on it and the Sturgeon had a dramatic 48-42 victory.

Sarnia now move on to play the Twin Cities Predators at Sir Wilfrid Laurier University in the Southern Conference final this Sunday at 1 pm. The Sturgeon will be out to avenge their only loss of the year, a 17-8 defeat against the Predators in the fourth week of the season. The Sturgeon currently sport an excellent 8-1 record.






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