The Bulldogs started slow but finished fast to end their Northern Football Conference regular season with a 5 and 1 record after beating the Sudbury Spartans 42-21.
Author of the article:Greg Estabrooks | North Bay Nugget
Published Jul 23, 2023
It was a little tougher than expected for the North Bay Bulldogs on Saturday night. The Sudbury Spartans may have been winless entering their game with the Bulldogs at Cundari Field, but they did arrive to compete.
Sudbury led the Bulldogs 21-14 late in the second quarter before the Bulldogs scored twice in the final three minutes to head to halftime with a 28-21 lead.
North Bay shut out the Spartans in the second half, scoring two more touchdowns, and cruising to a 42-21 win.
North Bay finishes the regular season with a 5-1 record. Ottawa handed the North Bay side its only regular-season loss after the Sooners rallied from a 21-0 deficit to stun the Bulldogs 35-33 on July 15.
Marc Mathon, the head coach and defensive coordinator, commented on his team’s ability to shut down the Spartans after a tough start.
“I think the guys just got caught a bit off guard,” said Mathon. “They were trying to corral (Sudbury’s offence) instead of attacking. We just changed it to a more attacking defence in the second half and that made a difference.”
Veteran defensive back Kory Benoit, who had one of three North Bay interceptions in the contest, talked about the change in approach.
“We just needed to buckle down and play our game of football,” he said. “Just do what the coaches asked us to do. We were a little concerned but knew if we did our jobs, we would prevail.”
The Bulldogs turned the ball over early in the game and that aided Sudbury, giving the Spartans a short field.
Quarterback Jordan Heather said a few things contributed to the sluggish start but it was good to see his teammates find their stride.
“We had a backup centre in the game, our normal centre has been away,” he said. “We had a snap go over my head, it happens. We also had a fumble in the first half. We had football plays that just didn’t go our way.
“They came to play, and you have to hand it to them for that,” said Heather. “It took us a little bit to wake up. Once our defence started to click, we held them scoreless in the second half and our offence was also able to do our thing.”
Heather threw a whopping six touchdown passes in the game as North Bay racked up 480 yards of total offence.
The Bulldogs quarterback had an animated talk with the team post-game and said the Bulldogs need to bear down, as the games are only going to get tougher.
“You got to be at practice; you got to commit,” said the Bulldogs pivot. “A new season is starting. We have a chance to do something good here. But we need to have a good week of practice to take it forward.”
Nick Laporte caught two more touchdown passes on five receptions for 136 yards.
Jacob Steringa scored twice himself, finishing the game with 125 yards receiving on eight catches.
Fisher Bilz caught his first touchdown pass of the season and rushed for a season-high 75 yards.
The Bulldogs host the Ottawa Sooners next Saturday back at Mike O’Shea Field, with the kickoff set for 7 p.m.