Panthers outlast Goliaths in defensive showdown

[audio:|titles=Rod_Alumni_podcast]The East York Goliaths  juniors couldn’t get their offence going in a hard-fought defensive battle with the Lawrence Park Panthers on Friday, ultimately falling 14-0.

Deadlocked at 0-0 for over three quarters of football, it was just a matter of time before one side broke through.

Much to the chagrin of a large crowd cheering on the Tr0jans in their home opener, it was the Panthers who took over in the fourth, scoring two touchdowns and hitting both their converts in the final frame.

Head coach Andrew Yeung was generally pleased with the way his team held the Panthers off the scoresheet for most of the game, but wishes they kept up that intensity in the final quarter.

“The defence played ok,” Yeung said. “They ran out of a little steam at the end. We can only hold on for so long, but it seemed to have fallen off towards the end.“

After a first half filled with turnovers and zero significant gains offensively for either side, but the game opened up a bit after the break.

Both teams used their contrasting styles to good effect in the third — East York favouring the run game, while Lawrence Park had an affinity to air it out a little more.

The Goliaths’ methods appeared to work better at first, getting their best chance towards the end of the quarter.

From Lawrence’s Park 47-yard line, running back Brad Innis — who handled the ball more than most for the blue and gold — pushed the ball down the field on multiple carries to help bring the juniors within 20 yards of the end zone.

But as they had done all game long, the Panthers weathered the storm. East York turned the ball over on a third and two situation on the 17-yard line, failing to penetrate an impregnable Lawrence Park defensive wall.

That stop was soon turned into offensive results. Combining both its typical short passing plays and rushes to the outside, Lawrence Park marched down the field at a quick clip, pushing East York back to its own 10-yard line.

Lawrence Park completed the drive 40 seconds into the fourth quarter to finally break the goose egg.

The wheels seemed to fall off for East York, but it did manage to make an impressive defensive stop on third and goal.

However, the ensuing punt was returned back to the four-yard line, setting up an eventual four-yard TD run.

All the momentum East York managed to build in the third quarter was non-existent over the final 12 minutes as the junior squad made several mistakes to close out the match.

Yeung points to the adjustment the team has had to take fielding such a young team.

“At least half the team is playing football for the first time, a big group of them are in Grade 9,” he said. “But that’s junior football, the turnaround is just a part of it.”

Improving the offence will be a major part of the development over the coming weeks as the Goliaths have now been outscored 35-6 over two games.