The St. Matthew Tigers senior boys football team is one step away from winning the city championship after downing the Ashbury Colts 50-21 in Thursday's semi-final.
The Tigers jumped out to an early 6-0 lead on a punt return for a touchdown by Jahim Kabongo in the first quarter. A field goal by Victor Nwadike Dim early in the second quarter would make the score 9-0.
The Tigers added another touchdown midway through the second quarter on a quarterback keeper by Jackson Plante that was set up by a pair of runs by Hugo Djeumeni of 30 and 38 yards. A Nwadike Dim extra point made the score 16-0 in favour of the home team.
The Tigers would score again on the very next series as Plante connected with John Byrne for a 25-yard touchdown pass to go up 23-0.
The Colts eventually scored on the final drive of the half to narrow the deficit to 23-6 after the Tigers blocked the extra point attempt.
A second touchdown by the Colts on the opening drive of the second half further narrowed the deficit to 23-13, but any dreams of a comeback were short-lived after another long run by Djeumeni set up a 20-yard touchdown pass from Plante to Fabrice Philippe to extend the Tigers' lead to 30-13.
Ashbury would add another touchdown in the fourth quarter, but it was sandwiched in between three more majors by the Tigers. Djeumeni scored his first touchdown of the game early in the quarter. The Tigers sixth touchdown came by way of a 43-yard pass from Plante to Christos Zigoumis.
After the Colts scored to make the score 44-21, Djeumeni scored his second of the game on another long run to make the final score 50-21.
Before the game, St. Matt's head coach Geoff Coventry challenged his team to prove a 28-28 tie against the Colts earlier in the season was an anomaly. It was the team's only blemish on their otherwise unbeaten season.
"I challenged them to come out this week and prove that 28-28 tie was nothing but a fluke," said Coventry. "To be honest with you we started slow that game and spotted them 14 points. Today, we had to make sure we didn't start slow this game. So to me it was important to win the first half and from there we just did what we had to do."
The only thing that stands between the Tigers and the city championship are the
St. Joseph Jaguars who beat the St. Peter Knights 17-3 in Thursday's other semi-final.
The final will be played at Carleton University next Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 2:45 p.m.
The mere fact that St. Matt's has a shot at winning the city title marks a dramatic turnaround from last season when the Tigers won just two games.
The biggest reason for the team's success this season are the players, many of whom opted to play community ball last year. This year, quarterback Jackson Plante decided to play high school ball in his senior year and invited former Cumberland Panther teammates Djeumeni and Kabongo, who are both in Grade 11, to play with him. Their reward for doing so may very well be a city championship and a trip to an OFSAA bowl game.