The Clavet Cougars earned a berth in the 2A six-man provincial semi-finals with a 64-23 win against the Lanigan Lazers in quarter final playoff action at Clavet on October 27.
The visiting Lazers played the Cougars very close for the first half, but the size, experience, leadership and depth of the Cougars prevailed in the end.
The Cougars stopped Lanigan on the Lazers’ first possession after safety Ayden Cummins batted down a pass to Wade Morrow on a third down gamble. Clavet’s offence then methodically moved the ball downfield on a series of runs by quarterback Koal Erixon to set up a first and goal.
The versatility of the squad was evidenced as the short yardage team was brought in. Quarterback Erixon joined twin towers Colby Joyes and Grayson Wyatt on the line, while receiver/safety Ayden Cummins took the direct snap and followed their blocks to break the plane of the goal line for the first score of the game. Kicker Jordan Hangs, who would be perfect on convert kicks all game, split the uprights to give the home squad a 8-0 lead.
The Lazers responded quickly with a pair of touchdown passes to their talented receiver Wade Morrow. Clavet blocked the convert attempt on the second touchdown.
A productive drive by Clavet was halted deep in Lazers territory as Lanigan’s defence forced a fumble that was recovered by Ryder Klapak, preserving a 14-8 lead for the visitors at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter saw a series of lead changes. Cummins scored his second touchdown on a three yard run, and with a successful convert, this gave Clavet 16-14 lead.
Lanigan receiver Gabe Zerbin hauled in a touchdown pass to allow the Lazers to regain the lead 20-16. The Cougars blocked the convert attempt.
Cougars quarterback Koal Erixon scored when he broke outside containment and was able to scramble for a touchdown with less than a minute left in the half. With the successful convert the Cougars had the lead back 24-20.
The Lazers quickly moved the ball downfield on a series of passes, setting up a 20 yard field goal by Mett Masilago to end a very exciting half. The visitors went into the break feeling very good about playing the defending provincial champions so closely.
The second half was very different.
Clavet capitalized on the opening possession of the second half as Cummins scored his third touchdown on a three yard run. Lanigan looked to regain some momentum as Gabe Zerbin stepped in front of a Cougar receiver for a great interception on the Cougars’ next possession.
Unfortunately starting quarterback Owen Bernauer was knocked out of the game with a serious arm injury as the Lazers tried to capitalize on the turnover. The squad, which had already lost two key defensive players to injuries, never really recovered.
Clavet took over the game. Erixon went deep to receiver Connor Hathaway, who was able to haul in the long ball with a great diving catch. An interception by Ayden Cummins set up a touchdown run by quarterback Koal Erixon.
In the fourth quarter Erixon scored on a long touchdown run after breaking away from what looked like a sure sack. Ayden Cummins hauled in a touchdown pass to complete the scoring.
The win sets up a very exciting provincial semi-final game as Cougars will host the Hague Panthers on Saturday, November 3.