Charlottetown, PE -
The first place Holland College Hurricanes defeated the University of New Brunswick Red Bombers 50-24 in an Atlantic Football League game played under overcast skies and drizzle in Fredericton on Saturday afternoon. The victory secures at least one home playoff game for the undefeated Hurricanes (4-0), a goal that eluded the team last season. Through the October mist, one thing became very clear: the Hurricanes are a big-play team with an arsenal of offensive weapons. UNB opened the scoring with a 23-yard field goal midway through the first quarter. The Hurricanes answered back when Christian Hackney connected with Jaylen McRae on a 25-yard touchdown pass. A two-point conversion put the ‘Canes up 8-3. Holland College got the ball back when Cardell Rolle intercepted a Brendan Cornford pass. The turnover, followed by a 42-yard pass to McRae, set up a 1-yard plunge by Quinton Mitchell. At the end of the first quarter, the score stood at 15-3 in favour of Holland College. Cornford hooked up with receiver Mitch McCoy early in the second quarter in a play that covered 40 yards and brought the score to 15-10. The arms race continued, as a minute later Hackney found wide receiver Jeff Hillier, who galloped 58 yards for the major. Five minutes later, the strong-armed QB connected with the speedy Steve Knapton for another score that covered 55 yards and put the ‘Canes up 29-10. Not to be outdone, the Red Bombers’ Cornford engineered an impressive drive in the final minute of the quarter, culminating in a touchdown pass to Cody Stewart. The score at the half was 29-17 and the fans already felt like they had got their money’s worth. The half also included two long punt returns to the end zone by the highly-touted McCrae, who had a breakout game for the Hurricanes, but both runs were negated by penalty calls. Both defenses awakened to start the second half, but then an acrobatic effort by a tightly-covered Eugene McMinns resulted in another long TD by the Hurricanes. The high-flying McMinns plucked the ball from the defender’s fingers and rolled into the end zone to put the ‘Canes up 36-17. Predictably, the Bombers fired back to open the fourth quarter on a 40-yard pass and run from Cornford to McCoy. The momentum-shifting touchdown put UNB within striking distance at 36-24. However, an interception by the ‘Canes Jay Dearborn killed another Bombers drive and set up an eventual 5-yard touchdown run by Layton Aitken, making the score 43-24. With Taylor Thorne now in the game at quarterback for the Hurricanes, McMinns grabbed another pass and sprinted 85 yards down the field to close out the scoring at 50-24. Following the game, Hurricanes head coach Andrew Hickey was pleased to come home with the win, but still saw work to do. “Offensively, we are explosive, but still inconsistent. We can stop the run, but we need to improve our pass rush. And our special teams looked real good out there today.” In other AFL action on Saturday, The UNB Saint John Seawolves (1-3) upset the Dalhousie University Tigers (2-2) 17-16, setting up a big game in Charlottetown next Saturday. A win against the Seawolves guarantees a first-place finish and the regular-season championship for the Hurricanes. Game time at UPEI Canada Games Place is 1 p.m.