VANCOUVER — St. Thomas More are experts in the fine art of the interception, and it’s that gift for the theft which helped send Burnaby’s Knights into the Subway Bowl Triple A Final Four next weekend against the Vancouver College Fighting Irish.
Trailing 21-7 at the half, the Knights parlayed a field goal and two second-half touchdowns to rally and beat the defending B.C. champion Mt. Douglas Rams of Victoria 24-21 at B.C. Place Stadium.
And of course, the signature stroke on a second-half rally was penned with a game-closing interception by cornerback Gabe Nacario.
Trailing 21-17, STM’s Jack Wagner went 56 tackle-breaking yards from the Knights’ 24-yard line, on a third-and-one pass from quarterback Anthony De Lazzari, setting up the offence at the Rams’ 20-yard line.
Not too soon after, running back Nick Osho scored on a six-yard run and a 24-21 lead with two minutes remaining.
The Knights’ Gabe Nacario sealed the win when he came up with an interception with the Rams driving and 90 seconds left on the game clock.
“They were huge and our defence has done it all year long,” said STM head coach Steve De Lazzari of his team’s timely interceptions, including earlier picks by Rickey Parsons and Kane Ferrara which all helped keep the dangerous Rams at bey.
The Knights recovered a Mt. Douglas fumble at the Rams’ 23-yard line five minutes into the third quarter, and although running back Osho fumbled the ball later in the possession while crossing the goal line, the ball was recovered by Alex Cordeiro for the score, pulling the Knights to within 21-14.
Cordeiro later booted a 31-yard field goal to trim the margin to 21-17.
“We had some bounces go our way for sure,” said De Lazzari. “The football gods were smiling on us, or perhaps it was (late STM head) coach (Bernie) Kully up there. Who knows. But it was good to see some things go in our direction.”
The two teams took turns turning the ball over down the lates of the second quarter.
His team trailing 14-7, St. Thomas More’s Parsons picked off Rams’ quarterback Hunter Swift at the Knights’ 20-yard line with 3:59 remaining in the opening half.
Mt. Douglas, however, got it right back when Peter Primeau picked off STM’s De Lazzari. One play later, Swift found Linden Williams standing all alone, and connected with him on a 27-yard catch-and-run scoring play.
The Rams had opened the game’s scoring on a 61-yard touchdown pass from Swift to Joe Lucas for a 7-0 lead.
Wagner’s 23-yard gain helped the Knights start a drive, which was capped by Osho’s nine-yard cross-field run to the end zone to knot it at 7-7.
With 8:19 left in the half, Swift drilled a three-yard TD strike to a falling Glen Rose who made a tough catch falling to the turf in the end zone to move ahead 14-7.
St. Thomas More had its season end at this same juncture last season, and to a Rams’ team which was hitting its full stride en route to the Subway Bowl title.
De Lazzari says the big difference between the two teams was the experience of the guys in the trenches.
“Last year, we were all Grade 11 linemen and when you have that group in Grade 12 who have started for two full years… they took over. You saw it tonight against a much bigger line in front of them.”
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