Mustangs rally past Patriots
In his wildest dreams, Jacob Gigliotti couldn’t have envisioned a more exciting and thrilling way to end his high school football career.
The 18-year-old, Grade 12B student scored three touchdowns to help the Saint Michael Mustangs upset the Saint Paul Patriots 34-26 in the Niagara Catholic Athletic Association bronze medal game Thursday at Saint Paul.
“It feels unbelievable,”Gigliotti said. “My whole career at the end we used to lose to Saint Paul. We never won. But wow, what a last ride to beat them on their own home turf.”
Adding three touchdowns in his final game was the icing on the cake for the speedy slotback.
“I’m starstruck,” he said. “It’s unreal.”
Gigliotti scored two touchdowns in the first half — one on a run and another on a pass from quarterback Lukas Chauder — before adding his third in the third quarter as the Mustangs regrouped after permitting a pair of touchdowns on Saint Paul’s first two possessions.
“We just kept out heads up. We told each other we don’t want to go out like this and we stuck in through,” Gigliotti said.
Gigliotti only managed to play for two seasons, due to a combination of injuries, COVID and the fact the Mustangs did not field a team last year.
“The best part is just seeing the boys jump around after a win like this. Nothing comes close. It’s a lifetime experience,” he said. “I love this team. Playing with your friends, nothing comes close.”
Mustangs coach Brian Carter, who was drenched following the win by his charges, was thrilled for his players.
“We didn’t have a season last year so the kids are just experiencing what football is all about,” Carter said. “It’s really good for Saint Mike’s and all these kids to experience a win at the end of the season against a very well-coached and very strong team.
“We’re really happy for the kids and proud of their efforts throughout the year.”
Carter sees good things moving forward for the Mustangs.
“You end a season on a victory, even if it’s only for third place, it’s great for the kids’ confidence level going into the off season and training and in the weight room. Just being part of something with such a young group is exciting.”
Carter was particularly proud of how his young squad didn’t fold after a tough start.
“They scored on us and then we fumbled on the five-yard line and scored again but we battled back,” he said. “I told the kids to keep competing and get more physical. Good things will happen in football when you use your body to stop the other team.”
The Patriots finished the season in third place with a 4-2 record and topped the Mustangs 27-5 in their lone matchup earlier in the season. The Mustangs finished with a 3-3 mark in the regular season.
Pats coach Rick Oreskovich tipped his cap to the winners.
“I thought we were beaten by a team that played better than us, simple as that,” he said. “I don’t know if we brought our A game or not. No excuses, we didn’t execute on defence. I thought our offence played well.
“It’s the last game of the year. It was a tough way to go out. I would have liked to see us win the game. Maybe we weren’t as good as we thought we were. We did our best as coaches. Sometimes things work out, sometimes they don’t.”
Mustangs 34 Patriots 26
Cat’s Caboose Player of the Game: Saint Mike’s slotback Jacob Gigliotti with three touchdowns.
For the Saint Michael Mustangs: Gigliotti, three touchdowns; Lukas Cuthbert, touchdown; Matthew Hodgson, touchdown; Max Marinas, four extra points.
For the Saint Paul Patriots: Jacob Jackson, two touchdowns; Julian Mangiacasala, touchdown; Mitchell Vanderberg, touchdown; Mateo Canakis, two-point convert from Matthew Murray.
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