Special teams mistakes doomed the North Bay Bulldogs to their first loss of the season as they lost to the Ottawa Sooners 35-33 on the road Saturday night. Ottawa scored the game winning touchdown with two seconds left.
Author of the article:Greg Estabrooks | North Bay Nugget
Published Jul 17, 2023
The North Bay Bulldogs had a three-touchdown lead in Kanata on Saturday night but coughed it up, losing their first game of the season versus the Ottawa Sooners.
The Sooners scored a touchdown in the final seconds to stun North Bay 35-33. The Bulldogs are 4-1 on the year and Ottawa is 2-3.
North Bay lead 14-0 after one quarter. And 21-13 at halftime. The Bulldogs led 27-13 after three quarters but were outscored 22-6 in the fourth.
The loss spoiled another huge effort by the Bulldogs offence.
Jordan Heather put his hands a little tighter on the league Most Valuable Player award by completing 28 of 34 passed for 467 yards and five touchdowns.
Nick Laporte promised a big game and delivered one against the Sooners with 10 receptions for 210 yards and two touchdowns. Jacob Steringa had two receptions for scores, catching eight passes for 113 yards. Andre Landry had 88 yards receiving and added a score.
Special teams were a killer for the Bulldogs as they gave up two onside kicks to Ottawa. Coach Marc Mathon says those failures, and some other mistakes, really hurt.
“We allowed one of our converts to be blocked, we gave them shorts fields after the onside kick recoveries,” says Mathon, who adds the Bulldogs needed more possessions in the second half, as they only had the ball three times.
“One more drive for us would have sewn up the win, just on time alone,” says Mathon.
Mathon was referring to the fact that Ottawa scored the go-ahead touchdown with only two seconds left in the game.
Heather said special teams need to be worked on this week with the playoffs approaching.
“It all comes down to giving special teams the time it deserves. Special teams are one-third of the game, and we need to treat it that way moving forward,” says Heather.
“Our offence played really well but we need to be able to extend our own drives. Late in games we need to manage the clock a bit better and score when time is more in our favour,” says the Bulldogs quarterback.
No matter how the Bulldogs do next week in their season finale against Sudbury, North Bay will host a playoff game the week after (July 29) and Mathon says it could be Ottawa coming to town.
The Sudbury game still has meaning for North Bay as the Bulldogs are trying to get as high a seed as possible for the league semifinals and finals if they advance that far.
The Bulldogs host winless Sudbury next Saturday at 7 p.m. at Cundari Field.