MONCTON, N.B. — The Summerside Cox and Palmer Atom Spartans are heading to the Moncton City Championship.
The atom squad knocked off the Moncton Bluebombers 33-23 on Sunday afternoon to advance to the finals.
The Bluebombers won the opening coin toss, but the Summerside defense allowed them only one first down. The Spartans offense took to the field and drove 65 yards capped off by a five-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Charlie DesRoches to wide receiver Charlie Turner.
The lead was short-lived, however, after Moncton scored on a 60-yard dash and a 50-yard passing play.
The Spartans would tie the game before the half, with Charlie Turner scoring with 40 seconds remaining on a 10-yard run.
A sack from linebacker Max Chisholm ended the Bombers hopes of scoring again before the end of the half.
Summerside returned the kick-off at the start of the second half, with DesRoches scoring on a fourth-and-goal chance to put the Spartans ahead 24-15.
The Bombers responded, busting over the one-yard line a couple plays after Sahib Singh stalled a long run short of the end zone.
With the ball back in their hands, the season was on the line for both teams.
“We got the ball back with only five minutes left on the clock. I told the boys, ‘Let's go win this game.’"
Within five yards of the end zone, Charlie Turner busted through on fourth-and-goal.
"I told the guys on the fourth down play that if we score here, we win the game. That was the difference. We executed it perfectly," said coach John Turner.
On the ensuing kick-off, Spartan player Finn Turner made a touchdown-saving tackle on the return. Summerside's defense forced a four-and-out with 1:55 left on the clock.
The Spartans tried to run the clock out, but the Bombers forced a Spartan punt for the first time this season. Punter Connor Keogh hammered a 35-yard punt to give Summerside’s defense some room to breathe. With under a minute left, the clock ran out on the Bombers' comeback attempt.
Summerside (9-1) will face the undefeated Sackville Titans (8-0) in the Championship game at Rocky Stone field in Moncton this coming Sunday.
"We will have a good week of practice and we are confident playing the Titans as anything can happen in one game,” Turner said. “We are thrilled for our players as we have had a great season.”