EPIC BATTLE, TIGERS 45 - REDS 46
On a picture perfect day with a bright blue cloudless sky and heated temperatures, two undefeated teams met on the campus of UNB Fredericton to determine the front runner in the Atlantic Football League. The Dalhousie Tigers, the defending AFL champions lost 46-45, in an incredible shootout with the hometown Red Bombers.
In one of the most wild and exciting games in AFL history, the Tigers took the early lead on a 22 yard TD strike from Dal QB, Chris Duplisea to Guillaume Bernier. Minutes later, fans experienced the most exciting play of the game as Tiger Cairo Berry returned a Bomber punt 75 yards to give Dal a 14-0 lead. But UNB’s offence would come alive as Dylan
Waugh, the explosive and punishing workhouse with the aid of a monstrous seven tight offensive line began to dominate the Tiger “D”. In most cases it took more than one defender to take him to the ground.
Consecutive carries later he scored. Matt Mills kicked the convert and 14-7 was the score at quarter time.
Very early in the next frame, Julien Jenkins kicked a 23 yard FG to go with his two PATs to give the Tigers a ten point edge, 17-7. UNB replied with more power running setting up a seven yard pass major to Jackson Green. The first turning point of the game saw the Reds third short kickoff tipped out of bounds giving them possession in Dal territory. Shortly after, Waugh had his second 6, Mills converted and in the dying seconds of the half he kicked a 21 yard FG to put the Bombers ahead 21-17 at the half. Between those two Reds’ possessions the Tigers had a great chance to put points on the board. The longest run of the day from scrimmage was forty-eight yards by Watts placing the Black and Gold on the six with a chance to go ahead. An unnecessary roughness penalty aborted Dal’s opportunity to go ahead as the series ended with a missed 29 yard FG. As the second half commenced, Dal’s D had a near interception and then a real positive as the Reds punter fumbled the snap and Will Hunter made the tackle to give the Tigers the ball deep in the UNB end. A short march saw Watts get a well deserved four yard touchdown to tie the game at 24. Less than five minutes later a 30 yard spectacular TD catch by Jake McKay from QB William Hicks put the Bombers up by a converted major. Duplisea wasn’t having his best aerial day compared to last week’s 70% completion rate but he did connect on a 51 yarder to Owen Seaman, followed a two yard QB sneak for 6, evening the score at 31. The Reds continued to go with what got them there. The Mammoth seven which outsized Dal’s defensive front continued to RUN RUN RUN, resulting in another Waugh score (38-31). UNB’s trickery on kickoffs, this time a short middle one almost caused a Tiger turnover. Dalhousie would reply with their own march, some run, some pass. Lacking the run last week, Watts and Duplisea would combine for nearly 250 yards. Watts, 126 on 17 carries and Duplisea 121 on 13 attempts. Duplisea scored his second TD to knot the game with seven minutes remaining. And the scoring and excitement continued. It looked like UNB were going to take a three point lead as they prepared to kick a FG. Dal’s bench was the loudest it had been all day as they chanted “block that kick, block that kick” and Eric Purcell got a piece. The kick went wide left and Barry pulled off another long return, 50 yards, giving the Tigers great field position. The dynamic ground duo and the read option finished with Watts scoring the major after Duplisea made his longest run of the day, 23 yards. Jenkins would remain perfect on his PATs and Dalhousie had a 45-38 lead with 1:57 left in the game. Needless to say, the game was a defensive struggle with over ninety points scored but cudos to the following: Joe Fiander (1 INT), Will Hunter (6Ts), Issac Owings-Ombotimbe and Bradley Burgess (7Ts), James Young (8Ts), Asher Mangea (9) and Nate Whidden (10). But these young men were not able to stop the final UNB drive. The Reds scored to put them within one of the tie. A two point convert would win the game and that is what the Bombers gambled on. Defensive pressure saw the QB flushed from the pocket and rolling to his right with a myriad of Dbs and Receivers in the end zone. McKay’s ball was low and to the middle of the zone where Jackson Green’s tough catch brought the thrill of victory to the Reds and the agony of defeat to the Tigers! Final score 46-45. What a battle! This win gives UNB a two point lead in the standings and a one point advantage in the two game total point series for the coveted Alumni Cup. Head coach Hagget was proud of the way his boys played and feels the experience drawn from the encounter will give his team and especially the 35 rookies experience for the second game at Dalhousie’s Wickwire Field on October 12th. This game day we will also be celebrating the Tenth Anniversary of the New Era football Tigers. Hope to see you there for more Dalhousie football excitement and a WIN!