November 8, 2015. Charlottetown, PE. After a grueling eight-week journey, the Holland College Hurricanes are champions once more.
The Hurricanes, behind a confident offence and powerful defence, repeated history capturing their third consecutive Atlantic Football League title with a 32-24 win over the Dalhousie Tigers Saturday afternoon.
“I’m very proud of our organization for winning the Moosehead Cup,” said head coach Kyle Quinlan. “It really was a special group of players and coaches, and they deserve to be 2015 AFL champions.”
Two-time champion Steve Knapton scored two key touchdowns in the win.
“It feels great when it all comes together. There’s nothing better,” he said.
The Hurricanes grabbed an early lead pounding the ball with the run. They finally broke through late in the first on a 75-yard sweep by receiver Jeff Hillier to make it 7-2.
The Hurricanes rushed for 315 total yards behind a healthy offensive line that played together for the first time since Week 1.
“We were all healthy this week and it showed today,” said offensive lineman Zach Davidson, who has been part of all three championships. “It’s hard to do one, let alone three in a row.”
A Knapton 36-yard touchdown run, followed by a 36-yard touchdown pass that was tipped by Jay Dearborn to teammate Brandon Whitman, extended the Hurricanes’ lead 25-2 at the half.
“We’ve been working all year to get a solid run game and once you have that, the pass game just falls into place,” said Knapton.
In an effort to get back in the game, the Tigers called on backup quarterback Matt Shannon, and he didn’t disappoint.
Shannon ran it in for a 1-yard score, after completing a 68-pass on the previous play, cutting the lead 25-9 before the fourth. After turning the ball over, the Hurricanes were called on a pass interference, allowing the Tigers to punch it in from 1-yard out, trimming the lead 25-16.
With the lead slipping away, quarterback Anton Sianchuk stepped up and found Knapton for a 61-yard touchdown catch, giving the Hurricanes a two-score lead. The Tigers added a late touchdown, but the damage was already done.
“We’ve been building up for the championship,” said Sianchuk. “That was our goal and we knew we could get here again.”