After starting their season with an upset victory, the Westgate Tigers were one half away from dropping their second straight senior football contest.
Facing a six-point halftime deficit, Tigers quarterback Dillan Tataryn rallied his troops by throwing a pair of second half touchdowns to lead Westgate to a 27-6 victory over the St. Patrick Saints at Fort William Stadium on Friday.
The Saints defence held the Tigers off the scoreboard in the first half, and Tataryn said the team rallied in the locker room at the break.
“I think halftime we got everybody fired up in the change room,” said Tataryn, who completed 20 of his 25 passing attempts for 220 yards.
“We got everybody doing their assignments and knowing what they had to do, and everyone was pretty pumped coming out.”
Westgate head coach Mike McNally added the veteran nature of his squad can make his job a bit easier.
“I didn’t have to do a whole lot because we have some good leadership on the team,” McNally explained.
“You could tell these guys were disappointed in how they played that first half and they were firing each other up and I walked into a room full of energy, attention, and a group of guys ready to get back out for that second half and prove the Tigers were better than they showed.”
The Saints opened the scoring with a 7-yard touchdown run from Bryson Aube, which held up as the only scoring in the first half.
Westgate made their first drive of the second half count, as it ended with Tataryn locating Kyle Trodd in the end zone for the major. The drive was spurred by a 40-yard completion by Tataryn to wideout Josh Whitehurst, and was also helped along by 30 yards of penalties committed by the Saints.
The Tigers found the end zone through the air in the opening minute of the fourth quarter, as Tataryn connected with Jordan Fish for an 18-yard score. The ensuing two-point conversion was successful to give Westgate a two-possession lead.
From there, the Tigers would not look back. Tataryn had much more time and comfort in the pocket in the second half compared to the first, where he was constantly under duress and surrendered a fumble after taking a hard sack.
“We came out flat. Our offensive line was not moving down the field,” McNally said. “We talked about how we had to get them moving and in the second half they showed they can come out and dominate.”
The passing game has proven to be a vital weapon for the Tigers in the early stages of the campaign, as Tataryn has now thrown four touchdown passes to three different receivers.
“He’s throwing some nice balls in practice and getting a good feel for his receivers,” McNally said of his quarterback. “We’ve got some talent catching the ball this year which is always nice.”
Westgate committed only one turnover in the contest, compared to six one week prior in a loss against the St. Ignatius Falcons. McNally credited a week dedicated to mental focus and responsibility for the improved protection of the football.
The loss drops the Saints to 1-2, and marks the second time this season they have been dominated in the second half of a contest. St. Patrick was tied at the half in Week 1 before allowing 28 unanswered second half points to fall 35-7 against the Falcons.
St. Ignatius remained perfect (3-0) with a 34-14 trouncing of the Hammarskjold Vikings (1-2). The Falcons were on Hammarskjold from the opening kick, leading 21-0 after the first half.
The two-time defending champion Churchill Trojans improved their record to 2-1 with a 45-7 thrashing of the winless Superior Gryphons (0-3).
Leading the way for Churchill was Justin Fui, who threw for one score while rushing for two others and picked up 182 yards on only nine carries. Jordan Jonasson also ran for a pair of touchdowns and recorded 117 yards on seven touches.
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