The UNB Red Bombers were the recipients of the Moosehead Cup on Saturday after defeating the Holland College Hurricanes in the AFL Championship at BMO Center. The 29-26 victory capped off a season in which the Bombers went undefeated in head coach Vince Sturgeon’s first year at the helm.
\ The Bombers opened up the scoring with a Dylan Waugh touchdown run early in the opening quarter. An Alec Ferris strip sack of the Hurricanes’ quarterback, recovered by the Bombers’ Turner Sturgeon, set the UNB offense up with good field position on the Holland College side of midfield. The offense would go on to capitalize with another Dylan Waugh touchdown run, bringing the score to 14-2 in UNB’s favour. An intentional safety taken by UNB with under five minutes left in the first accounted for the Hurricanes’ two points.
\ However, three UNB turnovers—two fumbles and an interception—had allowed the Hurricanes to score 24 unanswered points, giving them a 26-14 lead with 6:13 in the third quarter. UNB fumbled again the next drive and closed the third quarter without scoring. It was the Bombers’ defense that seemed to reenergize the squad: after once again stalling out in their first drive of the fourth quarter, the UNB offense was given the opportunity to redeem itself when an incredible one-handed interception by defensive back Marcus Urquhart stole the ball from the Hurricanes offense. With the ball on their own 50, the Bombers fed runningback Dylan Waugh all the way to the endzone for their first score of the second half, bringing the score to 26-21 with just over 5 minutes left to play.
\ After forcing a punt by the Hurricanes’, the Bombers looked to be out of the game after failing to score yet again on offense. That was until the defense stole victory from the jaws of defeat yet again when middle linebacker Turner Sturgeon forced a Holland College fumble with a minute and a half left on the clock. UNB’s Riley Spears recovered the loose football, leading to a long touchdown-scoring drive by the Bombers where Turner Sturgeon pushed quarterback Jonah Rawlines into the endzone on a quarterback sneak with just 22 seconds left in the game. A Jacob Hausman interception of Holland College with 3 seconds left sealed the victory in the Bombers’ favour, clinching a perfect season in addition to the championship win.
\ “I’m extremely proud of the way the defense played,” said Turner Sturgeon after the victory. “I thought we came out with the right kind of gameplan.” He added: “Knowing this group from the beginning of the year, I honestly knew we had athletes across the board, guys who were going to play big in big games. I’m not surprised to see the defense succeed the way we did. I think our front four is the best in the league, I think we do pretty well at linebacker, and our defensive backs obviously showed up to play today.”
\ This is the first UNB Red Bombers team to complete a perfect season since 1959.