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W.J. Mouat's Tanner Strauss (left) pursues STM running back Sebastian Adugalski on Friday at Burnaby Lakes. (Steve Bosch, PNG)W.J. Mouat's Tanner Strauss (left) pursues STM running back Sebastian Adugalski on Friday at Burnaby Lakes. (Steve Bosch, PNG)

W.J. Mouat 20 at St. Thomas More 25

Howard Tsunamura – The Province – October 8, 2011

BURNABY — Kyle Madden’s legend keeps growing.

The burly middle linebacker, who doubles as a bruising fullback, showed even more depth in his overall portfolio on Friday, lining up as a slot receiver and doing extensive damage in leading the No. 1-ranked St. Thomas More Knights to a 25-20 win over the No. 2-ranked W.J. Mouat Hawks of Abbotsford in an epic Burnaby Lakes showdown between a pair of B.C. powerhouses.

Madden caught a long touchdown pass from quarterback Mikey Carney on the Knights’ first offensive series, later set up another score with an interception return, then hauled in a long gainer late to set up the winning score as STM (1-0, 4-0) remained unbeaten on the season.

“My main position is linebacker so most people don’t understand that I can catch the ball on offence as well,” said Madden cause. “When I catch the ball, I can go into (the defence) and break a tackle, or if they go to me outside, I can use my strength and that is what I was able to do today.

The Hawks, coming off a 42-14 win last week over Vancouver College, opened the scoring by driving the length of the field and capping their efforts with a one-yard carry by running back Devin Logan.

However the Knights replied on the very next series when Carney hooked up with Madden on a 50-yard pass-and-run scoring play to tie the game 7-7.

Madden then picked off Mouat quarterback Daniel Markin at the Mouat 43 yard-line, eventually setting up Carney’s 26-yard keeper into the end zone for a 13-7 STM advantage.

“We have so many guys capable of running and scoring and catching that sometimes he gets lost in the shuffle,” Knights head coach Bernie Kully said of Madden. “But he has the best hands on the team and we know that as a coaching staff. And he is tough.”

So to were the Hawks.

In fact they were able to answer the Carney keeper on their next series, Markin going 46 yards over the middle to Bain for the major, a score that had Mouat on top 14-13.

With 1:28 left in the half, Carney went over the middle to long and lanky receiver Gio Trasolini for a 44-yard touchdown that put St. Thomas More on top 19-14 at the half with the promise of more offensive fireworks in the second half.

The third quarter, however, was scoreless. And despite a myriad of turnovers and missed opportunities by Mouat, including a drop on fourth-and-two at the Knights’ six-yard line that would have created first-and-goal at the two, the Hawks somehow found a way to take the lead.

Markin drove his team back down the field and rifled a pass to the corner of the end zone where Bain laid out into a full-on horizontal dive, making an all-hands catch that put Mouat ahead 20-19 with 3:02 remaining.

However the Knights got the ball back at their own 32-yard line with 2:35 left, and went 68 yards in 37 seconds, capping things off with Carney’s seven-yard touchdown strike to Trasolini.

The big play that set up the Trasolini catch?: How about a 59-yard pass-and-run down the sideline from Carney to Madden, who worked hard to come open on a pass pattern as the STM line buckled down and bought time for its quarterback.

“We were down by a point so it was gut check time,” said Kully, “and we came through. The o-line did a great job protecting on the third down play and Kyle made a great catch.”

Mouat got the ball back with 1:58 remaining, but Malcolm Lee snuffed the potential game-winning drive by intercepting a Markin pass intended for Bain with 1:10 remaining.

While a lot of what transpired Friday was no surprise to the respective coaching staffs, the fact that STM so regularly lined Madden up as a receiver was.

“We hadn’t run that since the spring when we did our seven-on-seven stuff,” said Kully of Madden lining up as the inside receiver. “So it was good that when we needed it, we could pull something out of the bag of tricks. It was a simple thing and it worked. Sometimes you don’t show everything right away. Sometimes you have a formation that has plays tailored to it. We weren’t saving it. It’s just something that developed.”

When asked if his staff was aware of Madden’s ability to dig and curl from a spot on the line of scrimmage, Mouat’s Kelly showed just how far back his team’s film work had gone.

“We knew he lined up there and we knew that he caught several big passes from there last year,” said Kelly. “We knew what he could do but we were a little unprepared for things in their alignments and they exploited it. Because of that, they made that big play at the end. So full marks to them.”

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