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The Spartans Are OFSAA Champions
Dec. 3, 2017
The Spartans Are OFSAA Champions
The Lorne Park Spartans are Provincial Champions once again following a last-second, nerve-racking, hair-greying, movie-like finish in their OFSAA Central Bowl win over the Jacob Hespeler Hawks at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton.
With a strong wind sweeping the length of the field, Jacob Hespeler's Darrian Morgan booted the opening kickoff through the endzone for a rouge that put the Hawks up 1-0.
Lorne Park answered on their following drive. In punt formation on third down from their own 40, Chris Haggart took a direct snap up the middle for a 70-yard touchdown. The extra point would fail, but the Spartans had a 6-1 lead.
On their next drive, the Hawks penetrated deep into Lorne Park territory, but Morgan's field goal sailed wide for a single.
The score would remain that way until the first play of the second quarter when Haggart struck again, this time on a jet sweep from five yards out to put the Spartans up 13-2.
Lorne Park added to their lead a few minutes later when QB Christian Smodis dropped it in perfectly to Will Manko for a 27-yard touchdown making it 20-2.
The Spartans appeared to put the game away on the ensuing kickoff when Seth Robertson fumbled the ball in his own endzone and Lorne Park's Sam Mackenzie recovered for the touchdown, but an inadvertent whistle meant that the Spartans had to settle for a rouge instead.
The Hawks, struggling to put a drive together finally cashed in late in the second quarter when WR Seth Robertson broke a tackle on a jet sweep of his own and scampered 61 yards into the endzone to make it 21-9 at the half.
Nothing went right for Lorne Park in the third quarter. Facing a strong wind, the Spartans couldn't get anything going offensively, and the Hawks rallied for two touchdowns. Facing third and inches Jacob Hespeler's Joel Watson took a quarterback-sneak to the house from 51 yards out. Then, after 30 yards in Lorne Park penalties, Watson snuck into the endzone once again, this time from a yard out, making the score 25-21 in favour of the Hawks.
With time sliding irrevocably into the past, things got worse for the Spartans. On second and long, Smodis scrambled to his left and injured his knee fighting for a first down, forcing the Spartans to punt the ball away one last time.
The Spartans defense held on first and second down, and the Hawks, facing a strong wind attempted a fake punt on third and long but the pass was intercepted by LB Rowan Hancocks, setting the stage for what will be known forevermore as "The Drive".
With under a minute remaining, needing a touchdown, with Smodis ruled out for the remainder of the game, and no timeouts left, RB Jakob Page took the helm, not having thrown a single pass all season. On first down, Page's pass was batted away at the line of scrimmage. Chris Haggart ran the ball on second down, gaining only a yard, as the clock continued to run. Facing third and nine, their season hanging in the balance, the Spartans spread out five-wide, with trips to the right side. Page took the snap, dropped back, and fired a rocket downfield to Will Manko on a wheel route. Manko took to the air, splitting defenders and somehow came down with the ball at the Jacob Hespeler 36-yard line with 36 seconds left and running. The Spartans hustled to the line, and Page the gunslinger fired another shot, this time to Riley Farquharson on a dig route down to the 21-yard line. With the clock still ticking, Haggart found the edge on another jet sweep and fought his way down to the seven yard line. Then, with 15 seconds remaining, Page took the snap, surveyed the field and rifled it into the endzone for WR Ryan Di Florio who jumped over a defender and secured the ball as he fell to the ground with the winning touchdown and the Provincial Championship.
The Lorne Park bench exploded and Spartans fans rejoiced, having witnessed what may have been the most exciting finish to a game in Lorne Park Spartans Football history.
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