Despite an unfavourable call late in the first half, the Holland College Hurricanes Football Club battled back for a 21-9 victory against the University of New Brunswick Saint John Seawolves Saturday afternoon.
The call came with under three minutes remaining in the half, when a Seawolves’ untouched punt was recovered by one of their own, giving them a new set of downs. Hurricanes’ head coach Kyle Quinlan immediately questioned the call.
Quinlan said the refs’ interpretation of the rule was that as soon as the Seawolves punted the ball, it was a change of possession and when they recovered their own punt, it was ruled a first down.
Not letting the call affect them, the Hurricanes’ defence would force the Seawolves into a game-deciding pick six – five interceptions in total – to help extend their unbeaten streak to 13 games.
Defensive back Jay Dearborn, who recorded the interception, said the defensive unit’s familiarity with one another and their pressure-focused playbook has led to the impressive numbers.
“Our defence has been getting pressure on them all game, all game, all game. The quarterback was throwing away balls, having to make throws off his back foot.”
The Hurricanes took an early 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter after quarterback Anton Sianchuk connected with receiver Steve Knapton for a 59-yard major.
The touchdown pass was the season’s first, a number the offensive unit hopes to build upon after the win, Sianchuk said.
“We have a great running back and a good o-line, so once those things get going then we’ll be able to pass the ball, too.”
The Seawolves chipped away in second quarter after a safety followed by a forced fumble deep within Hurricanes’ territory led to a Sean Galbraith touchdown pass and a 9-8 advantage. But the Hurricanes responded quickly with the Dearborn pick six to take a 14-9 lead into the half.
The Hurricanes added to their lead in the third when a 32-yard Jeff Hillier punt return led to a Carson Halliwell 8-yard touchdown run, all but sealing the 21-9 win.
While the Hurricanes improve their record to 2-0, Quinlan said there’s a lot of work ahead of next weekend’s contest against the UNB Fredericton Red Bombers, who also stand at 2-0 following their overtime defeat of the Dalhousie Tigers.
“We have to string together more drives with our offence, but we can’t be leaning on our defence to win games like this. As sound as they are, it’s too tough to count on them to pick up interceptions and touchdowns.”
The battle for sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Football League will take place on Oct. 3 when the Hurricanes host the Red Bombers at 1 p.m. at the UPEI Alumni Canada Games Place.