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A tough ending for Bantam Raiders

Chateauguay Raiders’ quarterback Riley Element takes the snap from the shotgun formation. (Courtesy Christian Lambert)

In the end, the Bantam AAA Chateauguay Raiders were outlasted in the Quebec Bantam Football League Gold Cup by the Rebelles St-Hubert.

The team, with some local players, lost 21-14 on Sunday at Stade Hebert.

The loss came after St-Hubert capped off a game-winning drive with under two minutes left in the game to win the championship.

This game served as the tiebreaker as both teams played each other twice in the regular season. The Raiders squeezed the win 15-14 in the first game and the Rebelles dominated the second, 42-14.

Raiders’ head coach Pete Element, was dejected after the loss but knew he had a championship-calibre team on his hands.

“We made it to the finals and we finished third overall (in the regular season),” he said. “To make it to the finals and give the first-place team a hell of a scare, I wouldn’t change this team for any of the others.”

The Rebelles struck first with 7:17 in the first quarter to jump out 7-0.

Chateauguay responded with running back Teshawn Gordon’s 60-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 7, halfway through the second quarter. It was his fourth score of the playoffs.

“We had an injury early in the season but we saw a great running back come to rise in Teshawn,” Element said. “He’s potentially in the running for MVP in the league.”

Gordon had an interception while playing defence and almost ran it back for a touchdown.

“If he gets one block, he would have been gone,” said Pete. “Unfortunately we didn’t score on the following drive.”

The tie was short-lived as St-Hubert marched down the field on their next possession. They took the lead 14-7, only 61 seconds after the Raiders’ touchdown.

Late in the third quarter, Riley Element threw a touchdown pass to Kahnawake’s Tatas Cross on an out route to tie it at 14 apiece.

“We lost Tatas since week three,” said Pete. “If we had him for the whole year, we could have won the whole thing. He’s so fast out there on the field.”

In the fourth quarter, the weather took a turn for the worse. The game went from breezy to wet and windy, which hurt the Raiders, Element said.

“We’re a passing team and that rain was coming down hard and heavy,” said the coach. “We couldn’t throw it well and we were against the wind.”

The Rebelles, facing a third-and-20, late in the fourth quarter, were able to convert the down on a long pass play to bring them into striking distance of the end zone. St-Hubert got a touchdown pass on the next play to go up 21-14. That was the game-winning score for the Rebelles to win the Gold Cup and knock off the Raiders.

Element lamented his coaching decisions and what could have happened if one or two things differently.

“As a coach, you beat yourself up when you let this happen,” he said. “When you come out the losing end, a coach is always going to question himself. It was a long season, we went through a lot of injuries and we prevailed through a lot.”

The Raiders finished their season with an 8-4 record, including playoffs. The team entered the post-season as the third seed and knocked off the North Shore Lions, 20-13, to advance to the Gold Cup.

“I told them they’re a great team and they fought hard,” said Element. “We made it all the way to the finals.”

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