After an undefeated regular season campaign, the UNB Fredericton Red Bombers earned their first playoff victory Saturday at BMO Center against the UNB Saint John Seawolves. The two clubs were scheduled to meet last week in the final contest of the regular season. However, the Seawolves forfeited the match, giving the two teams a week of rest and securing a perfect 6-0 record for the Red Bombers.
\ The Bombers once again flashed their prowess in the run game and the physicality of their offensive line: runningback Dylan Waugh, who had over 100 yards at halftime, racked up 220 total yards and two touchdowns by the end of the match. The offense also benefitted from a stellar performance from a newcomer to the receiving corps: quarterback Will Hicks. After an injury to receiver Jake McKay, Hicks stepped up for the position change and made several spectacular plays. Hicks made a diving catch in the endzone in the second quarter for a touchdown, and followed it up late in the fourth with a leaping grab on a long pass downfield. “[Jake McKay] ran off the field and [Bombers head coach] Vince told me to get in there,” said Hicks after the game. “It was my first time playing in-game as a receiver. I didn’t really think about anything else except ‘go get that ball’”.
\ The Red Bombers’ defense also had a productive afternoon. Middle linebacker Turner Sturgeon now has a streak of two consecutive games with an interception after picking off a UNBSJ pass in the second quarter and taking it to the Seawolves’ 12-yard line. Sturgeon explained: “We were in Cover-zero, so technically I was on the running back, but I just saw the QB catch and load up to throw. I broke on it and he threw me the ball.” To end the Seawolves’ first drive of the fourth quarter, Matt LaFleur—who typically only plays receiver and returns kicks for the Bombers—lined up at cornerback to capture the Bombers’ second interception of the game, which he returned for a touchdown. “I thought we played well. We were out on the field for almost the entire first half, it seemed. I was really proud of the guys.” said Sturgeon. “We’ve been coming together and balling out,” said strong-side linebacker Winston Leger.
\ In addition to solid performances from the offense and defense, the Red Bombers’ special teams unit proved to be key contributors: Alec Ferris blocked a Seawolves punt in the fourth quarter and took it seven yards from the endzone. The Bombers would score two plays later with a Dylan Waugh touchdown run.
\ The Red Bombers advance to the championship game next Saturday at BMO Center against the Holland College Hurricanes after a Holland College victory against the Dalhousie Tigers in Halifax