Last second heroics delivers Bol D’Or Championship to John Abbott

“I say this in the most complimentary way, they’re built different,” Abbott head coach Pat Gregory said. “They battled, they believed, they stuck together. They’re a very special group.”

With no time left on the clock, the John Abbott Islanders pulled of an amazing comeback to take a 23-22 decision over the Montmorncy Nomades, earning the Islanders their second consecutive Bol D’Or championship going back to the one earned in 2019 prior to the pandemic. “We never approached this as a title defence,” Islanders head coach Pat Gregory. “So much time has passed since 2019 and this year. We rolled into this game with 50 different players and five different coaches so we were hunting for a championship not defending one.”

The Islanders and Nomades never settle a game in an easy fashion as shown by the season-ending thriller won by Abbott in double overtime and by more than four points to give the Isles first place and home field advantage in the playoffs. This time around JAC rallied for the tie with 30 seconds on the clock and took the win with no time remaining in regulation.

JAC held a 14-6 lead at the half but Montmorency struck back with 16 points to earn their 22-14 lead. Late in the fourth Abbott was on the march but an interception by Montmorency put the Nomades in good stead to run out the clock. “We struggled offensively,” coach Gregory said. “They (Montmorency) deserve a lot of credit; they limited us big time the whole day.”

The Isles’ defence came up big with a forced fumble to give the Islanders possession on the Nomades 30. “Our defence gave up yards but I was so proud how they stood up and kept them (Nomades) out of the endzone,” he said. “The play of our defence was the key and we had some big plays by our special teams. It was a great day for those units to step up and make a difference.”

JAC quarterback Kaelan Trepanier marshaled his troops on a quick drive that culminated with Shawn Valentine powering 10 yards to paydirt, putting the Islanders to within two of Montmorency. JAC went for the two point conversion to knot the score at 22-22 with Trepanier hooking up with Daniel Sheehan for the successful attempt. “Kaelan has brought tremendous abilities, he was clutch,” he said. “We had discussed the play we were going to use for the two point try a couple of series earlier when we knew we would have to. I made a couple of suggestions and he said he’d rather do this so we went with the play he liked and his execution was on point.”

On the ensuing kickoff Laurent Poisson stepped into the ball driving it 84 yards to the Nomades’ Zachary Long in the endzone. It was a Long shot as he opted to kick the ball away to avoid a potential single for the Islanders sending the ball to their own 39 yard line.

Abbott gladly took possession but were stymied and settled for a field goal attempt that was unsuccessful. The Nomades once again kicked the ball away to avoid a potential point for JAC. Following a couple of plays it came down to Poisson as on the final play of the game he supplied the margin of victory on a punt into the endzone for a single point and a 23-22 win.”I say this in the most complimentary way, they’re built different,” he said. “They battled, they believed, they stuck together. They’re a very special group.”

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