Upper Canada College's varsity football team claimed a 31-17 victory and the junior varsity team lost 17-0 to St. Michael's College School.
UCC's junior varsity team put up a good effort but came up short against an undefeated SMCS squad, which won 17-0 in a game that began at 4:30 p.m. The two teams will face off against each other again on Friday at 5 p.m. at SMCS.
More fans from both schools started filtering into the stands for the 7 p.m. kickoff of the varsity game, which featured two teams that hadn’t lost either of their first two matches.
UCC received the opening kickoff, but didn’t do much with the ball and punted it away. SMCS was driving but fumbled, and UCC recovered the ball around midfield.
Quarterback Alex Alfaro Munoz completed a pass to Connor McKinney and then gambled on a third down and 10 play, which came up short of a first down deep in SMCS territory. UCC’s defence came up big, as it did for most of the game in a very solid effort, and forced SMCS to punt again.
The first quarter was scoreless, but things changed quickly in the second. Running back Luca De Carolis had a nice first down run and then rumbled in from the six-yard line for a touchdown. The convert was missed, however.
That single point was gained two series’ later when a Connor McKinney punt went unreturned into the end zone for a rouge.
A subsequent SMCS punt from its end zone resulted in UCC taking the ball at their opponents’ 25-yeard line. Alfaro Munoz and Connor McKinney hooked up again, this time for an impressive touchdown. De Carolis was good on the convert, putting UCC up 14-0.
UCC’s defence continued to pressure SMCS, which was soon facing another punt from its end zone. This time, however, the punter elected to take a knee and concede a two-point safety.
UCC showed off an impressive pass rush when SMCS got the ball back, with quarterback sacks by Pier-Oliver Lefebvre, Linus Deck and Kyran Culham. Unfortunately, the last two were called back by respective unnecessary roughness and offside penalties. This allowed SMCS to keep moving forward and it ended the first half with a 20-yard field goal.
UCC’s mascot Ice the Husky and members of the Blue Army tried to fire up the fans on a chilly and damp evening during halftime, which featured a performance from the SMCS Drumline and the UCC Spirit Band rocking out with covers of Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild” and Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train.”
UCC entered the second half with a 16-3 lead and kicked off to SMCS to begin it. After another three and out, Connor McKinney had a big punt return to give UCC the ball at the SMCS 35-yard line. The team didn’t make much headway and settled for another Connor McKinney punt into the end zone to extend the UCC lead to 14.
SMCS quickly gave the ball back after failing to earn a first down. Alfaro Munoz completed an outstanding 35-yard pass to Nicodeme Kwemo, but he was subsequently sacked and UCC was forced to punt.
SMCS started at its 23-yard line and didn’t have the ball for long before kicking. Chris Wong ripped off a big punt return for UCC, which was soon followed by a dynamic 10-yard first down run by De Carolis. UCC gambled again on third and 10 and came up a foot short of a first down, but pinned SMCS at its 15-yard line.
The fourth quarter began with UCC maintaining its 17-3 lead. An Alfaro Nunez to De Carolis connection gave UCC the ball at the SMCS 11-yard line. Alfaro Nunez next targeted Kwemo, who took a major hit that resulted in an SMCS unnecessary roughness penalty and UCC getting the ball at the SMCS one-yard line. Alfaro Nunez ran the ball in, the convert was good, and UCC had a 24-3 lead.
SMCS received the ball and marched downfield, with a UCC pass interference call giving it a first down at the one-yard line. It took advantage, kicked the convert and narrowed the margin to 24-10.
UCC got the ball back but punted. SMCS also got to third down and lined up to punt, but instead went for a fake that was unsuccessful and turned the ball over on downs at midfield.
UCC punted and SMCS started its next drive at its 16-yard line. A phenomenal 94-yard pass and run combination resulted in a touchdown, and the subsequent convert tightened the score to 24-17 with 19 seconds remaining.
SMCS attempted an onside kick that Connor McKinney picked up on the fly and sprinted downfield untouched for a touchdown. A successful convert pushed UCC’s lead back to 14.
Time remained for just a kickoff and one SMCS play. The quarterback took a knee to end things with a 31-17 victory for UCC.
Connor McKinney, whose younger brother Charlie also plays for the team, was named UCC’s top player during a post-game presentation made by UCC teacher and coach Kent Hutton.
The McKinneys are the sons of UCC principal Sam McKinney and continue a recent tradition of having the principal’s sons being star athletes. Former principal Jim Power’s boys — Aidan, Liam, Seamus and Patrick — were all standouts for the Blues.
UCC’s varsity football team will play a home exhibition game against Huron Heights Secondary School at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday. The Blues will take their 3-0 Conference of Independent Schools of Ontario Athletic Association record to St. Andrew’s College for a 2 p.m. game on Oct. 27 that will end their regular season.