VANCOUVER — The St. Thomas More Knights spent almost all of Saturday’s Subway Bowl Grade 8 championship final showing how consistently adept they were at breaking big scoring plays at the most opportune moments.
Burnaby’s Knights had opened the contest by scoring its first three touchdowns from 51, 87 and 62 yards, and two of those scores came on fourth-down plays.
In the end, however, they were finally able to beat the Vancouver College Fighting Irish 24-22 in the Quadra Cup final by mounting a late drive, securing key first downs, and ultimately scoring the winning points from the shadow of the goal line.
Running back Matthew Custodio, on a third-and-goal from the three-yard line, took a pitch and scored on a sweep to make the 24-22 final complete.
Custodio was later named the championship final MVP.
The victory represented a record 14th Grade 8 title for the Knights, who after winning a record 10 straight titles from 1998-2007, had won just once, back in 2013.
The game was a precursor to the final game of Subway Bowl’s Saturday of semi-finals from B.C. Place Stadium. The same two schools are scheduled to meet in a 7:30 p.m. Final Four senior varsity clash at 7:30 p.m.
The game was a back-and-forth battle with neither team scoring consecutively through all four quarters.
Vancouver College’s Cole Presely took a hand-off on third-and-eight from the 12-yard line and turned in a punishing TD run in which he ran right through a St. Thomas More defender on his way to the end zone with 3:43 remaining.
Presley’s own two-point covert run made it 22-18 Vancouver College.
The Knights’ showed a penchant for big plays on fourth down in the opening half, and the trend continued when Michael Cumuzzi took a pass from quarterback Malachi Hayford and turned it into a 62-yard major.
The two-point convert attempt failed but STM was back on top 18-14 with 7:52 left in the third quarter.
The two teams turns took scoring over the first half.
The Knights’ Custodio opened the scoring with 5:14 left in the first quarter when he turned a fourth-and-fifth on the STM 49-yard line into a 51-yard touchdown run and a 6-0 lead.
The Irish stormed back to take an 8-6 lead with 13 seconds left in the quarter.
Vancouver College’s Cole Pryputsch caught a 25-yard touchdown pass, and Presley bulled his way over for a two-point convert and an 8-6 lead 13 seconds before halftime.
The fireworks erupted just before halftime with back-to-back scores.
First, with 2:37 remaining, STM’s Comuzzi turned a pass from quarterback Malachi Hayford into an 87-yard touchdown reception. The two-point convert attempt failed, but the Knights led 12-8.
With only 13 seconds left before halftime, however, Presley capped an Irish run with a handoff from quarterback Finn Teasdale and a one-yard run into the end zone for a 14-12 lead.
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