The Notre Dame Cougars and the Lacombe Rams stepped onto the MEGlobal Field knowing that a win would punch their ticket to next week’s league championship against the Hunting Hills Lightning.
The lower-seeded Cougars would draw first blood in the first quarter when new Cougar quarterback Leigh Pico would run the ball through the end zone for an early 7-0 lead.
The teams would play the rest of the first quarter even, before the Rams found a way to tie it up on a 15-yard Matt Darnell touch down, bringing the score to 7-7. The Rams on their ensuing possession would add a field goal, stretching the early game lead to 10-7 Lacombe.
Notre Dame would have the answer when Alex Groenen would punch home another Cougar drive, taking the lead back at 14-10 Notre Dame.
The Cougars wouldn’t be able to celebrate long as the Rams scrambled for two late 1st half touchdowns—the first on a beautiful lateral by Richard Jans to Simon Gray and the second by Jans getting past the goaline with seconds to play.
The game would go into the second half 23-14, with the momentum firmly on the Lacombe side of the ball.
“We got off to a slow start again but I thought we took control in the second quarter,” Rams Coach Jason Petrie said. “In the first half they had two big plays. One of them should have been a pick and the other one was a big run. They are really well coached and extremely well prepared. They made us work for it.”
The momentum would mean little in the third quarter, as the ball remained around centre field for the majority of the quarter—with neither team able to take advantage. The score remained the same going into the deciding frame.
Groenen give the Cougar offence a jolt a minute into the fourth quarter with his second touchdown of the game, bringing the game to 23-21 Rams.
That is as close as the Cougars would come after Rams receiver Simon Gray would follow the Cougar score with a 23 yard catch, reestablishing the 9-point lead at 30-21.
Rams Evan Standish would follow that up with a touchdown of his own—extending Lacombe’s lead to 36-21 with 3:38 remaining in the 4th quarter.
Darnell would add another Rams touchdown at the 1:47 mark with his second score of the game, putting the game all but out of reach at 43-21, after the ensuing 1-point kick.
“Darnell was fantastic tonight; Simon Gray ran really well and had a couple big catches; and Rich Jans stepped up and really had a good game tonight,” Petrie said.
Pico would add a late score for the Cougars with 37 seconds left, however it wouldn’t be enough as the Rams would set their date with the Lightning next week—winning 43-28.
“It is a big challenge next week,” Petrie said about Hunting Hills. “They are not invincible. I will tell you that right now. They a good football team. They are very fast and they execute well, but we match up better with them than we do with anyone else.”
The Rams will take on the Lightning next Saturday—subject to change.