The Carlton Crusaders football team couldn’t keep up with the BJM Saints in the second half as they fell 38-19 in an exhibition game at Max Clunie Field on Thursday night.
Crusader head coach Lindsay Strachan says Carlton played a strong opponent in BJM.
“We had a good challenge tonight. That’s a polished, physical team. We knew we were going to get a good run tonight and had some good flashes and we just need to be a little bit more consistent at times. Credit to them, that’s a good football team on both sides of the ball.”
BJM would open the scoring thanks to a 20-yard rushing touchdown from Brody Komarnicki to take an early 7-0 lead.
The Crusaders would respond just three minutes later as quarterback Sullivan Smith-Windsor would find Elias Lambie for a 35-yard touchdown to even the score at 7-7 after the first quarter.
BJM would take the lead with a 23-yard field goal to start the second quarter. The Saints would expand their lead to 10 less than a minute later as Christopher Coleman would intercept Smith-Windsor and take it back 45 yards to the end zone for a pick six.
Carlton would get back within one score with a field goal before halftime.
The Crusaders would tie the game at 17 on their first drive of the second half as Smith-Windsor would find Zane Litzenberger for an 11-yard score.
BJM would retake the lead thanks to a 32-yard rushing touchdown from Kyren Houmphanh.
BJM would pull away in the fourth quarter scoring a pair of touchdowns, while Carlton could only muster a safety in the dying seconds.
The turnover battle was not kind to Carlton as the Crusaders turned the ball over four times in the contest. Strachan says the Crusaders needed to gain more yardage on first down to open up their playbook.
“We got behind the chains a little bit too much and you’re forcing at times in certain situations. When that’s the case, it’s never a good position to be as an offense. Being in better position after first down, that sets us up as an offense and opens the playbook up. When it’s second and long all day, the defense can pin their ears back and come after you and options are a little more limited. We just need to be in a better space after first down.”
Although the game was only an exhibition contest, Strachan says the Crusaders had plenty of learning opportunities throughout the night.
“Number one is the level of physicality. We got banged up a little bit tonight and that really hasn’t been the case all season long. Just the understanding of that and the speed that the better teams are playing at. At times, I thought we were taking it to them, and we just got to do it more consistently.”
The Crusaders return to action Friday, October 6 when they take on Lloydminster Comprehensive at Max Clunie Field. Kick off is at 6:30 p.m.