Hornets sting Muskies in quarter-final

The toughest losses to swallow are those in which a team beats itself.
The Muskies did precisely that Friday during their Winnipeg High School Football League quarter-final game against the Tec Voc Hornets, fumbling six times en route to a 27-13 loss.
But despite all the turnovers, Muskie interim head coach Shane Beckett was pleased with the team’s effort—if not their execution.
“I think the guys played really well,” he said. “I think we controlled both sides of the line of scrimmage.
“It was mental mistakes that definitely cost us today. It’s unfortunate that we made those errors and that we beat ourselves.”
The sudden rash of turnovers were extremely out of character for a Muskie team that did an excellent job of protecting the ball during the regular season.
After the game, theories abounded concerning just what had gone wrong.
“We put in a new system and new formations, and that could have been a little bit to do with it,” Beckett suggested.
“Guys who aren’t used to necessarily handling the ball that many times were causing fumbles.”
Four-year Muskie starter Steve Boileau had a different theory.
“Probably a lot of it was just nerves happening,” he said. “It was a fast-paced game. They were a fast team. Everyone was rushing trying to do stuff right.”
Regardless of the reasons, the turnovers directly resulted in the Hornets building a 27-0 lead by the end of the third quarter—a deficit that proved insurmountable despite a spirited fourth-quarter comeback attempt by the Muskies.
The one positive aspect of what was otherwise a very tough day was the black-and-gold’s play over the last 12 minutes. Fort High fought hard to the final whistle—something their coach was extremely proud to see.
“We get into the fourth quarter and the team could have folded up but with football, and especially with the play-makers that we have, at any given moment you can be right back in the game and these guys proved it [Friday],” Beckett said.
“It really showed the true character of our team and what it is to play Muskie football.”
Fort High opened the game on offence and looked sharp early on—moving the chains courtesy of a strong rushing attack.
They drove the ball to mid-field but a botched hand-off between Wepruk and running back Matt Depiero put the ball on the ground, where it was recovered by a Hornet defender.
Tec Voc capitalized four plays later when standout Hornet running back Joe Osiname ran the ball off-tackle for a five-yard touchdown run.
The Hornets converted the point after attempt for the early 7-0 lead.
The black-and-gold appeared poised to put their first points on the board two series later after driving the ball deep into Hornet territory. But Depiero fumbled and the Hornets recovered to end the threat.
Tec Voc were on the move again early in the second quarter, driving the ball deep into Muskie territory. The drive would come to an abrupt end, though, when Allen “Gus” Hunsperger recovered a botched hand-off attempt between the Hornet quarterback and running back.
The Muskie offence took to the field following the turnover and went back to doing what they’d done all season—namely feed the ball to Carmody.
The black-and-gold’s primary offensive weapon made steady gains against a sure tackling Hornet defence, taking the ball to the Tec Voc 30-yard line. But this drive—like its two predecessors—ended badly as Carmody lost a fumble.
While the offence was struggling to hang onto the ball, the Muskie defence was doing their part to keep the black-and-gold in the game. They forced the Hornets into another two-and-out series with enough time for one last Muskie drive before the half.
The Muskies looked poised to tie the score after Wepruk bombed a 45-yard pass to receiver Brian Glavish, putting the black-and-gold on the Hornet 20-yard line.
Two plays later, though, Depiero lost his third fumble of the half—and the team’s fourth overall—and the Hornets would run out the clock.
The Muskies’ first drive of the second half continued a now familiar pattern. They made some good gains on the ground and then fumbled the ball away. This time the culprit was Wepruk, who couldn’t handle the snap from centre.
Tec Voc made the Muskies pay less than a minute later by kicking a 37-yard field goal to increase their lead to 10-0.
The ensuing kick-off went out of bounds, giving the Muskies great field position to start their drive. After several solid pick-ups on the ground, the Muskies tried to catch the Hornet defence off-guard by running a reverse to Glavish.
The play backfired as Glavish fumbled. A Hornet defender alertly scooped up the ball and raced 50 yards for the major.
Tec Voc added the extra point and increased their lead 17-0.
The nightmare third quarter continued for the Muskies as they were stuffed on a third-and-short situation on their next possession. The Hornets took advantage of the short field and Osiname capped the drive with a five-yard touchdown to make it 24-0.
The Hornets added a field goal just prior to the quarter ending and held a comfortable 27-0 advantage heading into the final frame.
But if the third quarter was a nightmare, the fourth quarter was a dream for the Muskies.
Carmody picked up the Muskies first points of the evening on a 10-yard touchdown plunge midway through the quarter. Needing points, the black-and-gold went for the two-point conversion but were stopped by the Hornet defense.
Steve Boileau then booted a near-perfect onside kick which was last touched by a Muskie as it went out of bounds.
Carmody made a couple of nice gains before Wepruk threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Boileau. The Muskies kicked the point after attempt and suddenly it was 27-13.
The Muskies lined up for the onside kick and again recovered it.
The passing game clicking, Wepruk dropped back and found George Ossachuk for a 30 yard pick-up. However, Wepruk suffered a possible concussion on the play after being hit in the head and was forced to leave the game.
Back-up Boileau was sacked for a big loss on the ensuing play and eventually turned the ball over on downs despite a 13-yard completion to Ossachuk on third down.
Tec Voc then ran out the clock to seal the 27-13 victory and advance to face St. Paul’s #2 in the semi-finals tomorrow at Canad Inns Stadium in Winnipeg.