It was another exciting finish to the Atlantic Football League (AFL) season as the Holland Hurricanes and University of New Brunswick (UNB) Red Bombers battled it out for the league championship on Saturday in Fredericton, NB.
In a true back-and-forth matchup, the Red Bombers and Hurricanes exchanged leads throughout the game with the winning touchdown being scored with just 22 seconds remaining, giving the Red Bombers the 29-26 win in front of their home fans.
The victory was the fourth in team history for UNB, tying the Hurricanes for the most in AFL history.
Saturday’s game was played in beautiful conditions at the BMO Field in Fredericton in front of a capacity crowd. UNB would go on to score the games first touchdown just 5:52 into the first quarter. The rushing touchdown, followed by the point-after, put UNB up 7-0. A Hurricanes safety with 4:53 remaining in the first cut the lead to 7-2.
With just 2:47 remaining in the opening quarter, the Red Bombers extended their lead to 14-2 after their second rushing touchdown of the day.
In the second quarter, the Hurricanes began to push-back.
A 27-yard Kymani Simpson receiving touchdown for the Hurricanes, 4:53 into the quarter, cut the UNB lead to 14-9. This was followed by a 35-yard field goal by Matthew Uriah Kaye-Mitchell with 1:28 remaining in the half, reducing the UNB lead to just 14-12 at halftime.
The ‘Canes continued to pressure.
3:07 into the third quarter, Kaye-Mitchell was at it again, catching a Teshaun Tran pass to score the 50-yard touchdown, giving the Hurricanes their first lead of the game, up 19-14.
With the momentum on their side, the ‘Canes were able to increase their lead to 26-14 when Marco Antonio Briones Gutierrez rushed for the 29-yard touchdown with 6:14 remaining in the third.
Entering the final minutes of the season, UNB managed to score a crucial touchdown with 5:12 remaining to cut the Hurricanes lead to 26-21. They were not done.
After regaining possession, UNB began to march down the field in the final minute of the game, eventually finding themselves deep in Hurricanes territory. With the home crowd on their side, the Red Bombers scored the winning touchdown with 22 seconds remaining, rushing into the Hurricanes end zone from the one-yard line.
With the win, the Red Bombers completed a perfect 7-0 season while the Hurricanes went 3-3 during the regular season before defeating the Dalhousie University Tigers, 23-17, in semi-final action.
Statistically on Saturday, Tran went five-for-16, passing for 89 yards and throwing two touchdowns.
Kaye-Mitchell was the ‘Canes top receiver in the game, making three catches for 62 yards and a touchdown, while Simpson finished with one reception, a touchdown for 27 yards.
On the ground, Rodrigo Montes de Oca led the way with 48 yards on six carries while Briones Gutierrez rushed for 20 yards on seven carries, scoring one touchdown.
Kaye-Mitchell was perfect at the kicking position, going one-for-one in field-goal opportunities, making a 35-yarder in the second quarter. He was also three-for-three in point-after attempts.
Defensively, Javier Fernandez and Justice Grant picked up interceptions in the second quarter for the ‘Canes, while Grant, Hayden Machacynski, Cleavy Whylly Jr. and Jerome Tshimpangila earned sacks. Grant was also credited with a fumble recovery, as was Jack Malo.
The Hurricanes will now begin their off-season program as they prepare for the 2020 Atlantic Football League season.
For more information on the Atlantic Football League, visit www.atlanticfootball.co.
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For more information on the Holland Hurricanes, please visit www.hollandhurricanes.com, www.facebook.com/hollandhurricanes, www.twitter.com/hc_hurricanes and www.instagram.com/hollandhurricanes.