Orleans Dukes lose midget championship in a heartbreaker
By Fred Sherwin
slotback Matthieu Grandmaitre finds some open running room durimg the NCAFA
midget championship on Friday. Fred Sherwin/Photo
The Mews Orleans
Dukes came within one minue and 14 seconds of winning the NCAFA midget championship
on Friday before the football gods and Canterbury Mustang running back Cassius
Henry ripped it out of their hands.
a near perfect game, the Dukes were up 11-8 with just over a minute to go.
All Orleans kicker Andrew Mullings had to do was punt the ball out of bounds
and let the defence finish the job.
Mullings mishit the ball just enough to keep it in bounds. As the ball came
down at the Mustangs 50-yard line it bounced forward about 15 yards. Henry
tried to field the ball, but mishandled it for a second which allowed the
Dukes coverage unit to get downfield. Rather than converge on Henry, they
went for the ball which allowed the Mustangs' running back to escape the
from sideline to sideline, Henry turned upfield at his own 40-yard-line
and used a combination of God-given talent, terrific blocks and missed tackles
to take the ball to the house and give his team their only lead of the game.
The Dukes added
to their woes when they were called for roughing the kicker on the extra
point attempt which meant the Mustangs could kick the ball off from the
Dukes' 50-yard line and pin them deep in their end of the field, eliminating
any chance of a last minute comeback.
As things played
out, the Dukes had to start from their own nine yard line. After picking
up the initial first down, the drive ground to a halt on an unsuccessful
hook and ladder play and a quarterback sack.
It was an absolutely
heartbreaking loss for a team that did everything they needed to do to win
the game except keep Henry from making the big play.
The speedy powerback
scored the game's opening touchdown on a 62 yard romp that seved as a wake
up call for the Dukes' defensive unit. If they weren't completely focused
on the task at hand before the play they were afterwards, and except for
another long run late in the first half they kept Henry pretty much in check
until the fatal punt return.
the Dukes responded with a touchdown drive of their own that was capped
by a seven yard run by Charly Marseille. Mullings made no mistake on the
extra point attempt and then hammered the ensuing kickoff through the end
zone for a single point to give the Dukes an 8-6 lead.
would narrow the Dukes' lead to 8-7 midway through the second quarter when
they scored a single on a missed field goal attempt from 20 yards out.
be end up knocking on the door again in the final moments of the second
quarter, picking up a first down inside the five yard line with less than
30 seconds on the clock. After being held out of the end zone on the first
two plays, the Mustangs decided to go for the touchdown one more time rather
than settle for a field goal.
got the call, but the Dukes front seven were waiting for him and stuffed
the play to preserve their 8-6 lead.
their advantage to 11-8 in the third quarter on a 32 yard field goal by
responded with their most impressive drive of the game moving the ball 75
yards in 11 plays and chewing more than 12 minutes off the clock in the
process. But just as they did on the Mustangs' late drive in the first half,
the Dukes bent but didn't break. Canterbury got down as far as the 15-yard
line before the Dukes came up with a pair of sacks on back-to-back plays
to take them out of field goal range.
to be unfolding just as the Dukes faithful had hoped. They even got an unexpected
break with about three minutes left in the game when the Mustangs were called
for roughing the punter, giving the Dukes a fresh set of downs. Unfortunately,
Orleans couldn't do anything with them and they were forced to punt the
ball again which began the chain of events leading up to Henry's game winning
The Dukes were
originally supposed to punt the ball from their 40 yard line, but for some
inexplicable reason they took too much time to get the punt off and were
slapped with a delay of game penalty which in the final three minutes of
the gane is a major penalty. So instead of punting from his 40, Mullings
had to kick the ball from the 25. The rest, as they say, is history.
After the game,
Dukes head coach Brian Cazabon tried to put the devastating loss into words.
the most heartbreaking loss I've ever been a part of. We played the game
we had to play. Our defence bent but didn't break. We held the top scoring
team in the league to just seven points. We just got beat by one play. You
have to give that kid credit. It was a great run. We had a couple of chances
to stop him, but we just couldn't bring him down," said Cazabon.
p.m., Oct. 31)
www.orleansonline.ca's main page