Original article: http://www.thesudburystar.com/2018/06/17/gauthier-gallops-to-winning-score-2
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Author and Photo Credits: Peter Ruicci/Postmedia Network
He’s not the player he once was.
At age 35, Josh Gauthier is no longer the record-setting, championship-winning, nearly-unstoppable running back who once wreaked havoc on Northern Football Conference defences.
But he’s still awfully good.
Gauthier ran 27 yards for the go-ahead touchdown on Saturday, as the Sault Steelers rallied from a 10-0 deficit to defeat the Sudbury Spartans 23-10 at Rocky DiPietro Field.
With the home team trailing 10-8, Gauthier ran a counter, bolting nearly untouched into the Spartans end with 5:14 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Quarterback Alanzo Clarke ran in a two-point conversion and the Sault had a 16-10 lead.
Seeing how hard the Spartans were pursuing on power-running plays, Gauthier said he “told Ashton to call a counter,” referring to offensive coordinator Ashton Young. “I took two or three hard steps to the right and the whole defence shifted. You could run a semi through the hole.”
He didn’t need quite that much room, however.
“But once that happened I could use my wheels,” added Gauthier, who had scored earlier on a four-yard run and finished the evening with 104 yards rushing on 11 carries.
“The Gauthier play was the key to the game,” added head coach Brandon Lewis, whose club won its second straight, improving to 2-2 on the season. “It was vintage Josh. He wasn’t going to be stopped by arm tackles. You get him the ball and magic happens. He’s not even in game shape and he’s still a dominant player – absolutely.”
According to Spartans head coach Junior Labrosse, Gauthier’s run was a game-changer.
“That broke our back,” Labrosse added. “They had Gauthier hidden inside. And he paused with the ball until things opened up.”
“I don’t have that top gear like I used to have,” Gauthier admitted. “I’m so far from being what I used to be. But game smarts is something I’ll always have.”
Meantime, three minutes later, the Steelers sealed the win with another impressive run. Stevan Hiiemaa broke a series of tackles and galloped 68 yards for another touchdown.
That made it 22-10 with 2:03 to go in regulation.
Cam Basham booted his second convert to wrap up the scoring.
Jesse Hill had the other point for the winners, nailing a punt 35 yards for a single just before halftime.
“It was a big character win,” said Steelers head coach Brandon Lewis, whose team plays host to the Steel City Patriots this Saturday at 7 p.m. at Rocky DiPietro Field. “We made some mistakes and took some penalties and the first half was very tough on us. But at halftime we talked about leaving the first half behind us.”
Lewis said he thought his team managed the ball better in the second half. And the Steelers defence “had a heck of a game,” he added.
“We were strong and we hit hard,” said first-year linebacker Tom Twentyman, who finished with five tackles. “We had a lot of guys playing a lot of snaps, but we dug deep and found a way. We’re getting better every week.”
En route to completing 9-of-23 pass attempts for 246 yards, Spartans quarterback Hunter Holub hit Sean Moore with a two-yard scoring strike. Massimo Cimino converted and also booted a 17-yard field goal.
“We played three-quarters of a game,” said Labrosse, whose club fell to 1-3. “We had some mental breakdowns. Our offensive line played its best game so far this season, but penalties killed us.”
Notes: Hiiemaa ran for a game-high 130 yards on 10 carries. Clarke went 2-for-7 passing for 22 yards.
On defence, Matt Gauthier had a team-high six tackles for the Sault. Dalton Povey added 5.5 while Jon Bujold was credited with 4.5 tackles. Ron Kelly had an interception.