Canadian Tire Classic ends in a tie

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Justin Adamko of the Carlton Crusaders breaks up a pass that was intended for Jaykob Stratychuk of the St. Mary Marauders at Max Clunie Field Thursday night.

While members of the Carlton Crusaders and St. Mary Marauders were taking turns hoisting the Canadian Tire Cup on Thursday night, Marauders bench boss Curt Hundeby was wondering what could have been.

After the Marauders had driven their way into the Crusaders red zone, Kyle Witkowski’s pass attempt to Ethan Gee was picked off at the goal line by Justin Adamko with 1:07 to go in the fourth quarter, which resulted in the 2019 edition of the Canadian Tire Classic ending in a 27-27 draw at Max Clunie Field.

“We had a great chance there at the end of the game and I take full responsibility for what happened,” Hundeby said. “We didn’t call the right plays there and we should have kicked a field goal. We didn’t finish and that’s on me.

“I’m not sure what that means for the Cup. It might up in a neutral zone for the time being.”

The Crusaders, who won last year’s regular season meeting and the 2018 Saskatoon Secondary Schools Athletic Directorate Division III title game over their biggest rivals, were able to drive the ball down the field with some running plays before a last-second Hail Mary attempt from midfield fell incomplete.

“To be able to string a few running plays together was huge as we could have given them the ball back there in our end of the field,” Crusaders head coach Lindsay Strachan said.

“When our backs were against the wall there late, you hope that your playmakers can make a big play. Justin came through for us with that pick and that’s something he’s being doing for us all year.”

Adamko also had a big game on offence as he caught 75-yard and 12-yard touchdown passes from his cousin Ryan Adamko.

Ryan also had a three-yard touchdown run in the third quarter but saved his biggest play for the fourth quarter when he connected with Isaac Boir on a 28-yard third down touchdown pass with 7:24 to go.

The Adamko cousins would then team up on a two-point convert to give the Crusaders a 27-20 lead.

“When you are playing a well-coached team like St. Mary, they take away what we do best and it’s up to other guys to step up, which we saw at times tonight,” Strachan said.

“We are getting better every day and every week out here and it’s showed over the last few games.”

Witkowski responded on the ensuing drive as he hooked up with Jaykob Stratychuk on an 18-yard touchdown pass and kicked the PAT to tie things up at 27.

It was a strong showing from the Grade 12 quarterback as he kicked a pair of field goals and also connected with Ethan Gee on an 85-yard touchdown pass on the Marauders first play on offence.

Seth LeMoal rounded out the scoring with a short-yardage touchdown run.

“It doesn’t matter how each team is ranked or what they did the week before,” Hundeby said. “It’s always a good battle against those guys.

“Our hats go off to Carlton. They made some big plays when they needed to, especially on a couple of third down catches where we thought we had them stopped.”

With both teams now sporting 1-4-1 records, it’s now a wait and see situation for each side as they wait to find out when, where and who they will be facing in next week’s SSSAD seeding contests.

“The winner of this game was supposed to be in the Tier II playoffs, but with the tie it’s a real foggy mess,” Hundeby said.

“There’s a chance that we could have a rematch here next week, but we’ll wait and see what happens with the league games tomorrow.”