It was the bounce-back game the Sault Sabercats varsity team absolutely had to have.
“This was our best all-round game of the year,” head coach Matt Premo said of his team’s 35-18 victory over the Brantford Bisons on Saturday at Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre.
The much-needed win came on the heels of back-to-back emotional losses. The Sault had suffered an 8-7 loss to Waterloo and a 27-26 setback at the hands of Sudbury, both outcomes determined by opposition field goals on the final play of the game.
Discussing how his team needed this game, which evened the Cats record at 2-2, Premo called the victory “a big character win for us, going on the road after two tough losses.”
Running back Greg Caruso shone for the winners running for touchdowns of 24, 28 and six yards. He finished with 119 yards rushing on 15 carries.
Leading 14-10 in the third quarter, quarterback Jordan Robinson-Wright connected with Cooper Laframboise for a nine-yard scoring strike. Aaron Grawbarger added his third of five converts and the visitors took a 21-10 lead.
Caruso’s third major made it 28-11 and the Sault held off a late rally attempt by the Bisons to drop Brantford’s record to 2-3.
Defensive back Jackson Zack-Coneybeare had the other touchdown for the winners, returning a one-handed interception along the sidelines 50 yards.
“On offence, our passing game was much better than it had been in the last two games,” said Premo, whose club returns to action next Sunday (1 p.m.) in Hamilton.
In fact, despite some drops, Robinson-Wright still completed 14 passes in 21 attempts for 210 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.
“But we also ran the ball well,” the coach added. “We were finally executing well and the two areas on offence complemented each other.”
As for the Sault’s defence, Premo noted how it was “great, as usual. Overall, this was a complete team effort.”
Notes: Travis Johnson finished with six receptions for 43 yards while Rob Wright had four grabs for 91. Laframboise made a pair of receptions for 48 yards.
Along with his passing stats, Robinson-Wright ran for 24 yards on two carries.
On defence, Jacob Fecteau had a huge game with 11 solo tackles and two assisted tackles. Jacob Jurich finished with five solos and three assists while Geryd Lesage had four solos and two assists. He also returned a missed Brantford field goal 67 yards.
Ethan West contributed three solos, two assists and an interception. Along with his interception, Zack-Coneybeare finished with two solo tackles and one assist.