Sunday, September 19, 2004

Rens stay alive, Paopao stays employed

It was close, but in the end Sandro Sciortino exorcised a ghost with his last minute field goal giving the Renegades a 26-24 victory over the Calgary Stampeders. Sciortino set a team record for longest field goal a 53 yard boot, that may have just not only taken him off the hot seat but helped give his coach some breathing room as well.

The kicker who last week found himself mocked by the Ottawa crowd when he missed a chip shot, came up big when he was needed most. Sciortino has struggled quite a bit this year, but Paopao has been quite loyal and in deed defensive towards his kicker. Friday night his confidence and loyalty was repaid. With the Renegades playoff hopes fading fast a loss to Calgary would more than likely sealed their fate this year.

And while the Renegades can thank Sciortino for their victory they may wish to pat the defence on the back as well. Despite giving up 353 yard on the night, it was the three times the Rens held off the Stamps in the red zone that made a difference. The ability to shut down Calgary on the goal line made all the difference in this game, sending Matt Dunigan to the dressing room wondering what it will take to score. Dunnigan could only stand by in frustration as time and time again the Stamps would get close only to come up short.

There is a real problem with the Red and White when they get within scoring distance, for whatever reason they just can’t punch the ball across when they have the chances, too many opportunities are passing them by and that more than anything accounts for their woeful record in the Western Division.

With the win Ottawa boosts their record to 5-8 and keeps the team in the hunt for the final playoff position in the East. It also must guarantee the tenure of Coach Joe Paopao for the rest of the season, though any talk of replacing him at this point of the season seems rather pointless. With only six weeks to go in the season, trying to retool the team with new management would appear more of a symbol of surrender.

With a game coming up against Saskatchewan on Sunday the Rens have a chance to put together some wins and get back on the path they set for themselves at the start of the season. That of a Grey Cup berth in front of the home town fans, the road is going to be a lot harder than they might have hoped, but perhaps the confidence gained from Friday night will carry them through the rest of the year.

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