The Assumption College Lions got a taste of adversity in the regional high school football playoffs, but the Brant senior football champions prevailed in the end.
Down 10-0 just seven minutes into the game and later trailing 17-7 in the third quarter, the Lions fought back to defeat the Sir John A. Macdonald Highlanders of Waterloo 31-17 in a Central Western Ontario Secondary Schools Association semifinal on Saturday.
"We felt good about it the whole time," ACS linebacker and fullback Levi Jamieson said after the game. "We've been down before."
The Lions move on to face the John F. Ross Royals from Guelph on Thursday at 1 p.m. at Assumption to decide which team will win CWOSSA and advance to the Western Bowl at the Rogers Centre in Toronto on Nov. 27.
The game against the Highlanders certainly taught the Lions to stay patient and consistent.
Assumption was down early after a Highlanders touchdown, convert and field goal – all in the first seven minutes – had the visitors leading 10-0.
But the Lions kept fighting back and did not take any excessive risks on the field despite being down.
"I told them the game wasn't over after the first quarter," ACS coach Raj Saini said. "Football is a 48-minute game and I told them to just keep playing."
Things finally broke open offensively for the Lions late in the second quarter, when Anthony Powless ran an enormous punt return and a subsequent penalty against the Highlanders put Assumption in the red zone.
After quarterback Austin Sault had a bit of bad luck with a throw to the end zone that deflected off the uprights, Sault had a gutsy run that put the Lions on the three-yard line with a first down.
From there running back Chris Lewis punched in a touchdown and Andre Toic hit a convert to cut the Highlanders' lead to 10-7.
But Sir John A. Macdonald got two quick gains and was threatening to score again before halftime before Powless intercepted the ball and ended the Highlanders momentum heading into the break.
The Powless pick before the half was a sign of things to come in the third quarter.
During a span of less than three minutes late in the third quarter, the Lions made three interceptions and scored two touchdowns against the Highlanders to make the score 21-17 heading into the fourth quarter.
Jeremy Pinkerton was first with a pick and run to the Highlanders' one-yard line, from where Jamieson punched in a score and Toic converted at 4:46 of the third.
Then Jamieson took a turn with an interception on defence.
"I got lucky with that one," Jamieson said. "I wasn't in position. I should have been closer (to the receiver) and the quarterback overthrew him."
One play on offence later, Sault connected on a 34-yard touchdown pass to Powless deep in the end zone. Toic hit the convert.
On the next drive for the Highlanders, Jamieson flushed the Sir John A. Macdonald quarterback out from the pocket and forced him to throw up a prayer in lieu of getting sacked. The ball sailed into the arms of Powless for his second pick of the game.
"Our defence has been consistent all year," Saini said. "And it's the type of plays they make in games like this that make the difference between championships and bowing out."
Toic hit a 20-yard field goal one minute into the fourth quarter to make it 24-17 and Lewis had a nine-yard touchdown run with a minute left in the game to make the final 31-17.