The head coach of the Sault Sabercats had one word to describe the efforts of running back Nick Pagnotta on Sunday.
“Unreal,” head coach Steve Nott said of Pagnotta’s five-touchdown performance.
That was more than enough for the Cats junior varsity squad to beat the Vaughan Rebels 52-21 in Ontario Football Conference action in Vaughan, Ont.
“It’s a day I’ll remember for sure,” said Pagnotta, who returned the opening kickoff 85 yards for his first major of the contest. “I feel good. Our offensive linemen pushed hard and were grinding things out. It was a big game for us.”
Pagnotta, who now has seven touchdowns in three games, also scored on runs of 75, 38 and 45 yards.
He also hooked up with quarterback Jordan Robinson-Wright on a 47-yard, pass-and-run play, which resulted in another touchdown.
Pagnotta finished with 194 yards rushing on just seven carries.
The victory improved the Sault’s record to 2-1 heading into a key game Saturday at Superior Heights. The JV Cats are slated to meet the highly-regarded Sudbury Gladiators, who are also 2-1.
Nott called the test “a huge game for us. Sudbury is looking like a solid contender in the North Division.”
While the Sault coach was generally pleased with the way in which his team performed on Sunday, he certainly didn’t like the start of the game.
The visitors trailed 14-6 in the opening quarter, before getting their act together.
“We made some mistakes early on and I’m disappointed with how we started,” Nott said. “We took them (the Rebels) a little lightly. But we showed we were a dominant team beginning midway through the first quarter.”
What pleased the coach was the fact the one-sided score allowed him to roll a number of players into the game.
However, he also thought the team failed to maintain continuity once new players began checking into the lineup.
Mitchell Dewar, on a 35-yard run, had the other rushing major for the winners.
Robinson-Wright connected with Mark Aceti for a 65-yard touchdown and finished with eight completions in 16 attempts for 172 yards, two TDs and two interceptions.
“We didn’t play great as a whole in the first quarter,” the quarterback said. “But after that, we really played well. We stepped it up a lot.”
Asked about the importance of taking a victory into the Sudbury game, Robinson-Wright spoke of how “back-to-back wins are so nice. That gives us momentum going into next week.”
Along with his five touchdowns, Pagnotta ran three times for two-point conversions. Robinson-Wright also threw to Matt Jackson for a pair of two-point conversions.
Notes: Aceti had a pair of receptions for 72 yards while Jackson had two catches for 13.
On defence, Brennan Fisher had two solo tackles, two solo sacks, two batted balls and a fumble recovery.
Ethan West was credited with three solo tackles and two assists while Elias Provenzano had two solo tackles, one assist and his club’s lone interception.
By Peter Ruicci, Sault Star
Sunday, June 11, 2017