Flames come close in high-scoring game

Northgate’s Dylan White races for the endzone followed by a horde of Crusaders and a wall of Flames as the home team lost a high-scoring game in the final minutes of play last Saturday. Photo by Tom Steiner for The Citizen

By MEL PERKINS

Last Saturday afternoon the Northgate Flames battled the Crusaders from Bishop Canevin, and even though the Flames came out holding the short end of the stick, they showed why football is a game that has endured for almost 150 years. Northgate lost 41 - 35, but the game was more a microcosm that magnified the struggle that small communities like Bellevue and Avalon have been up against for decades now, and how they've been determined to fight and never give up, hoping to get those communities back to the thriving towns they once were.

The Flames, with maybe 15 players suited and ready to go, and Canevin with well over 20, battled hard. The Flames displayed what this community has long been defined by, and that is the blue collar, gritty, always-keep-fighting attitude. Northgate went down early, and fought back to take the lead, but on this day, they were unable hold on at the end for the win.

With barely enough players to play the game, the Flames took the field and kicked off to the Crusaders. Nate O'Mara and Dylan White made their names heard early with sacks and big plays on defense. But, with 4:23 on the clock, the Crusaders got on the scoreboard with a TD, and after taking advantage of a Flames' turnover, they were up 13 - 0 with 3:04 left in the first quarter.

The second quarter started with Northgate taking advantage of a blocked punt by Zack Reskovac that gave the Flames the ball on the Canevin 19 yard line. The Flames wasted no time, with Devontae Christe hitting White for a 14-yard pick-up. On the next play he threw to Reskovac for the TD. And, after Heman Darjee's extra point, the score was Canevin 13, Northgate 7.

The Flames kicked off after the score and the Crusaders had the ball on their 25-yard line. The Northgate defense rallied, forcing Canevin to punt.

Starting on their 40, Christe called his own number for a short gain, and then White picked up three yards, bringing Northgate to the 46-yard line. Third-and- 4, Christe dropped back and hit Danelle Frazier for a 40-yard pass and reception. White got the call on the next play for a loss of one yard, but White got the call again on second down, and he broke through the Crusaders' line for a 17-yard TD run. Darjee's kick was good, and the Flames had a 14 - 13 lead with 4:38 left in the half.

Canevin hit back quick, scoring a TD with 1:05 left on the clock, and after the two-point conversion the score was 21 - 14. That would be the score entering the locker room at half time.

The Crusaders kicked off to start the third quarter, and the Flames used eight plays to go 44 yards to score on the opening drive of the second half. Rushes by White and Christe got the Flames moving. Then Christe threw to Reskovac before going to White to get to the Crusaders' four yard line. Looking at a 1st-and- goal, Christe handed it to White, who went wide right to the corner of the endzone for a Northgate score. Darjee's kick was no good, and the Flames were down 21 - 20.

Canevin scored again with 2:23 left in the third quarter to make the score 28 - 20.

The fourth quarter started with Darjee missing a 31 - yard field goal, but the Flames' defense stiffened, forcing a bad snap, and Barbarino sacked the Cursaders QB for a six-yard loss. Canevin was forced to punt from deep in their endzone, Reskovac managed to get a hand on it and Clayton Cooper fell on it in the endzone for a Northgate TD. Christe ran it in for the two-point conversion and the score was tied at 28 with 7:45 left in the game.

Canevin scored on their next possession, but their lead would be short-lived as White returned the kick, after the score, 93 yards for a Northgate TD. Darjee's kick was good and the score was 35 - 35 with 3:15 left on the clock.

With 1:25 left in the game, Canevin scored to go up 41 - 35. The Flames pressed hard, crossing mid-field and taking it to the Canevin 22 yard line before turning it over on downs, and with just seconds left on the clock the Crusaders ran the time off the clock.

The Flames will wrap the season up tomorrow when they take on Laurel.