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Hurricanes defeat Seawolves for Moosehead Cup

November 3, 2013

By Thomas Becker

Charlottetown, PE – When the clocked reached zero, players stormed the field, as helmets and gear flew through the brisk air. At that moment, the Holland College Hurricanes Football Club became 2013 Atlantic Football League champions, defeating the UNB Saint John Seawolves 20-12.

“It feels awesome. It’s great to win it for a school and representing a city like Charlottetown. Being the only team in P.E.I., we knew we were the underdogs, so it just feels unbelievable,” said Hurricanes quarterback Christian Hackney.

Before the season started Hurricanes head coach, Mark MacDougall said he wanted to ensure that the team’s last two games were their best two games, and that’s exactly what happened.

“It was a great way to finish our year. The process was gradual but the last three weeks we really came together. We asked the kids to believe in each other and they did. It was a total team effort. Sometimes a team without stars is the hardest team to defeat. I think that was us,” MacDougall said.

From the outside looking in, the 1-4-1 Hurricanes entered the playoffs as underdogs, but they didn’t see it like that. This brotherhood always believed they had the talent to win.

“I never felt so special to be in a band of brothers. Since Day One we looked after each other. We’ve been a true brotherhood and it’s been the best feeling in the world,” said veteran linebacker Richard Lush.

Following the playoff victory over second seed Dalhousie on Oct. 26, the Hurricanes were one victory away from becoming champions. The 5-1 UNB Saint John Seawolves and the Jack Irving Cup (for the best regular season record) recipients eagerly anticipated the Hurricanes arrival Saturday afternoon, but they didn’t expect the storm that awaited them.

Early in the first quarter, the Hurricanes held the Seawolves to a field goal following a deflection by Jay Dearborn, breaking up a sure touchdown. The Hurricanes tied it up 3-3 after a highlight worthy one-handed diving grab by receiver Nick Hartling put them in field goal position.

Four minutes into the second quarter Hackney found a wide-open Jeff Hillier on the corner route for a 12-yard touchdown catch. Four minutes later a Seawolves drive was capped off by a Caleb Morgan three-yard touchdown run, evening the score 10-10 in the tightly contested championship game. At halftime the Hurricanes led 11-10.

An injury to Hurricanes dynamic receiver Eugene McMinns in the third quarter could have derailed the team, but with so much on the line, the team knew what needed to be done. After conceding the lead on the safety, the Hurricanes stormed back. A 60-yard punt return by Garvin Cius put the team in great field position.

Following two 12-yard catches for Rodney Blaise, Hackney finished the drive, diving in the end zone for the four-yard keeper and a 17-12 lead.

The Hurricanes defence took over in the fourth quarter as the Seawolves struggled to keep their drives going.  A late game interception by Dearborn deep in Seawolves territory gave the ball back to the Hurricanes and they capitalized on the miscue. On the ensuing play, running back Jordan Blizzard found a hole in the defence and marched down the field for 80 yards. Dearborn added a field goal to extend the Hurricane lead to 20-12. The Seawolves had one last chance to score, but in his last game as a Hurricane, Lush intercepted the pass to seal the championship for the Hurricanes.

“This day last year we were in the championship, but we weren’t the same team as we are today…. I’ve been prepping ever since, and I knew we were going to win this time around,” Lush said.
The ‘Canes will play one more game this year, when they travel to Burlington, Vermont to meet up with the U.S. college-based National Club Football Association (NCFA) powerhouse University of Vermont Catamounts next weekend.

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