Cardinal Carter upset Amherst in Wilson Conference semi-finals

By Joel Charron

It’s not the way the General Amherst Bulldogs wanted to end their season.

The Bulldogs stood on the sideline of Alumni Field at the University of Windsor, stunned as the Cardinal Carter Cougars pulled off a thrilling 24-23 upset win in a Wilson Conference semi-finals for the ages.

“I don’t even know what to say,” said Amherst quarterback Mike Mallender. “We shouldn’t have lost this game.”

Mallender said he was “very disappointed” and took the blame for the loss.

“I’ll put this on me,” he said. “Our defense has been doing it for us all year and when it was the offense’s turn to step up we couldn’t quite do it. It’s really tough right now.”

Head coach John Rudak said the team would feel the loss for a while.

“This is going to cut into this football team for a long time,” he said.

Cardinal Carter provided the only score of the first quarter on a one-yard run.

 

Amherst running back Corey Bezaire crashes into the end zone for the Bulldogs second quarter touchdown.

Amherst answered back on the first play of the second quarter when Max Reiner intercepted his first of the season and ran it back 70-yards for the major.

The Cougars answered back by driving down the field and punching the ball in from three-yards out. Amherst tied the game at 14-14 on their next drive and capped it off with a one-yard run by Corey Bezaire.

Cardinal Carter once again took back the lead on their next possession on a 55-yard touchdown pass.

Just before the end of the half the Bulldogs scored a single point on a Matt Duby 31-yard missed field goal, which left the Bulldogs trailing for the first time this season 21-15.

The Bulldogs took the lead for the first time in the third quarter on a five-yard run by Mallender and led 22-21 heading into the final frame.

With three minutes left, Duby picked off a Cougar pass giving the Bulldogs good field position, however Amherst was unable to advance the ball and eventually settled for a single point and a 23-21 lead.

With less than two minutes, left the Cougars launched the ball, which found the hands of their receiver inside Amherst’s 40-yard line and a few plays later kicked a 32-yard field goal with 54.7 seconds left.

Amherst Linebacker Cory Gaunt hang his head in his hands in the final seconds of the semi-final match up against Cardinal Carter.

Amherst moved the ball deep into Cougar territory and attempted a 32 yard field goal with 7.1 seconds left, but was blocked however it was recovered by the Bulldogs with 1.1 seconds left.

Amherst attempted to punt the ball into the end zone for the extra point but was kicked out of the end zone by Cardinal Carter.

Rudak said his first year, as Amherst head coach was a memorable one.

“Football is a great game and this is probably one of the greatest games I’ve been a part of,” said Rudak. “Unfortunately we were on the losing end of it.”

Rudak credited Cardinal Carter for playing the game with a “tremendous amount of enthuasim” and noted that the game was full of ups and downs for both teams.

He also mentioned that Amherst’s kicking game played a key factor in the game, stating that Duby’s punts put the Cougar’s deep in their own end.

Although Rudak said he was proud of his squad for the way they performed and played all season, however a bitter taste is left in his mouth.

“After going 6-0 (in the regular season) it is very disappointing not to meet Kennedy in the finals,” he said. “I can’t say our season was unsuccessful, but our goal was not reached.”

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