Bruizers win thriller in the 2016 QJFL Championship

After upsetting the Chateauguay Raiders in the semi final, the upstart Montreal Royals nearly pulled off an even greater upset in the championship final, but in the end a single point from a missed convert cost them a victory or at least forcing an overtime.

After going two-and-out and punting on their possession, the Royals started their second drive from their own 1-yd line after a great punt by Jr. Bruizers’ Louis-Philippe Simoneau. After managing to move the ball only two yards in two plays, the Royals opted to err on the side of caution and conceded a safety, which gave the Jr. Bruizers an early 2-0 lead. On the ensuing drive, the Jr. Bruizers appeared poised to score the game’s first TD when they moved 57 yards in seven plays to get a first down at the Royals 23-yd line, but they could only advance five more yards on the next two plays and they had to settle for a 25-yd field goal by Simoneau.
The Royals responded by scoring a single point on a punt by James Arénas Michel to make the score 5-1 for the South Shore team at the end of the first quarter.

Early in the second quarter, the Royals conceded another safety while the Jr. Bruizers attempted to add to their lead with another field goal from 27 yards out. Unfortunately, the ball hit the goal post and the score remained 7-1 for the Jr. Bruizers.

With only five minutes left to play in the first half, the Royals were punting from their own 20-yd line but the ball was blocked by Max Verna Gagné and recovered by Gabriel Leduc-Corriveau, who returned it all the way to the 1-yd line. From there, it took the Jr. Bruizers two plays before they scored the game’s first touchdown on a 1-yd run by Xavier Noel to increase their lead to 14-1 (Simoneau convert kick).

It looked like the score would hold up until the half time when the Royals decided to go for a “Hail Mary” pass on the last play of the half. However, the ball was intercepted by Verna Gagné and returned to the Royals 15-yd line as time ran out on the game clock. Since the Royals were assessed a major penalty on the play, which placed the ball just one yard outside the end zone, the Jr. Bruizers chose to take advantage of the opportunity to try a field goal. The 8-yd kick by Simoneau was good and the Jr. Bruizers had a 17-1 lead at te half time break.

It was a completely different game in the second half.

After the Jr. Bruizers punted on their first possession, the Royals started their first drive of the second half from their own 43-yd line. Using mostly passes, in nine plays they had a first down at the Jr. Bruizers 1-yd line. Then, on second and goal from the 6-yd line, they used play action throw the defense off guard and had Jeanlee Alexis throwing a pass to James Arénas Michel in the end zone to narrow the gap to 17-8 (Francesco Spanti convert kick).

They got the ball right back when Ralph Louis recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff return at the Jr. Bruizers 49-yd line and then got a first down in the red zone. However, a field goal attempt from 20 yards out was blocked and then recovered by Jean-François Moquin and the score remained 17-8 until the end of the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, the Royals defense kept the Jr. Bruizers pinned deep in their own zone and eventually the South Shore team had to concede a safety to make the score 17-10.
After the two teams traded punts, with less than four minutes left to play in the game, the Jr. Bruizers were punting again and the ball was fielded by Dynell Pierre at his own 20-yd line. He managed to evade a few Jr. Bruizers defenders and returned the punt 68 yards all the way to the Jr. Bruizers 22-yd line. After a major penalty was applied, the Royals offense went on attack from their opponents’ 37-yd line and in four plays they were just 13 yards away from the end zone but facing a 3rd and 2 yards to go situation. They called a time out to plan their strategy and they went with a wildcat formation. Manu Crisi Lauzon took the snap but then fumbled the ball. Luckily, he was able to pick it up and then scrambled through the Jr. Bruizers defense into the end zone to make the score 17-16. Everyone expected the game to be tied but the convert kick failed as the ball sailed low and hit players on the line.

With barely two minutes left to play in the game, the South Shore team had the ball but on their second play it was fumbled and Olivier Charles-Pierre recovered it at the Jr. Bruizers 29-yd line. The Royals offense, however, got the ball at the 39-yd line due because of a penalty that was called against them after the fumble recovery. Two plays later, they were faced with a 3rd down and one yard to go situation at the Jr. Bruizers 30-yd line and instead of calling for one of the run plays that were working so well for them the entire game, they called for a pass play. The Jr. Bruizers defense was prepared and they easily knocked the ball down to force an incomplete pass and a turnover on downs with only 44 seconds left. They were then able to run out the game clock and win the Joe Pistilli Cup for the first time.

After the game, league officials selected the following players for outstanding performance:

MVP defense#7 Maxime Dupuy from the Jr. Bruizers
MVP offense#29 Xavier Noel from the Jr. Bruizers
Game MVP#21 Kerven Laguerre from the Royals