Lions fight through penalty woes to earn second win
The Lions moved to 2-0 this weekend with a 48-19 victory at home over the Lloydminster Holy Rosary Raiders, to follow up on its Aug. 31 win over the Lloydminster Comprehensive High School Barons.
Friday evening was the first time that the Lions defeated the Raiders since Lloydminster joined the Wheatland Football League in 2009, but it didn’t come without its struggles and imperfections as St. Paul committed a litany of penalties en route to victory and wide receiver Taylor Joly left the game with a knee injury.
The Lions’ successes came in a varied mix of passing and running that kept the Raiders defense guessing and with an impressive all-around outing from their special teams, which saw Jason Jubinville and Brendan McKay return punts for touchdowns and two Lloydminster extra point attempts blocked by the defensive line.
The Lions kicked off their season on Aug. 31 with the game against the Barons, which showcased an unstoppable night from Jason Jubinville. Jubinville put up a team record five touchdowns and 292 rushing yards in a 75-23 victory over the Lloydminster Barons, but it was quarterback McKay that led the way against the Raiders.
“That’s what we’re lucky enough to have is a couple guys who can play like that, that can take over a game,” head coach Todd Tanasichuk said. “We’ve got great leadership, they’re very focused. When we had that big win last week the talk was all week, that’s done, next game is what we have to focus on.”
In last Friday’s game, McKay called on his own number for touchdowns on two occasions, returned a punt 47 yards for another, connected with slot back Dominic Dion in the end zone twice and successfully converted four extra points, putting up 60 passing yards and 147 rushing yards in the process.
“Big thanks to the O-line, they did great and set up a lot of plays,” said McKay, who also managed an interception while playing on the defensive.
“My receivers and running backs did a great job blocking, catching and running. They just had a great game in all.”
Jubinville also had a strong night offensively, rushing for 192 yards on 11 carries and scoring two touchdowns on a 58-yard punt return and a 60-yard run.
While the Lions put forth a strong defensive performance that often stymied the Raiders, two of Lloydminster’s scoring drives were penalty-aided and the third resulted in a flag thrown for objectionable conduct.
The flags didn’t just hurt St. Paul defensively either, as they had a touchdown erased from the board at the end of the first half due to an illegal blocking penalty, as well as a call for blocking from the rear in the fourth quarter that brought the Lions back to the 50 yard line from what would have been first down and goal.
“The boys have to learn that if we get into a tight game, we’ll lose a game because of those penalties,” Tanasichuk said. “The next three weeks we’re up against physical, hard-hitting, strong defensive teams. We’re not going to put up big points, they’re going to be close games and penalties are going to kill us.”
After reviewing the film, Tanasichuk later stated the penalties were all good calls, and that the boys took them because of a “lack of discipline.
“(Penalties) took 14 points off the board and erased many big plays. In some cases, it’s boys just trying to make a football play, and in others, it’s just plain selfishness,” Tanasichuk said in an email.
To add to this, Lions’ wide receiver Joly, who put up three interceptions in their opener against the Barons, went down late in the fourth quarter with what appeared to be a knee injury.
The day after the game, Tanasichuk said in an email that seeing Joly injured “weighed heavily on his mind,” but noted that the injury may not be as bad as it originally appeared.
The Lions’ next home game will be this Saturday night under the lights at St. Paul Regional High School field. The night will begin with the Bengals taking on the Cold Lake Bantam Royals at 6:45 p.m. followed by the Lions versus the Royals at 9:15 p.m.
“This is great football. People are missing out if they’re not coming to these games, and they’re missing out if they don’t come to the next one on Saturday because it’s a rivalry,” Tanasichuk said of next Saturday’s double-header under the lights.
“It’s definitely something to witness. It can get a little testy and a little ugly maybe, but that’s what a rivalry is. The blood gets flowing and away you go, and that’s what makes it fun.”
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