A tale of two halves: Hurricanes rally for a 27-20 victory
September 22, 2013
By Thomas Becker
Charlottetown, PE – They were down 20-19, on a third and 10 situation, with 1:50 remaining in the game.
Handcuffed by the time remaining, the Holland College Hurricanes Football Club were forced to make a play to keep the game alive. Anything but a 10 yard gain would have sealed the win for the UNB Red Bombers.
Quarterback Christian Hackney got the snap, looked on the out route for receiver Jeff Hillier, who hauled in a 17-yard catch for the first down to extend the drive.
“It was unbelievable play. It basically kept the game alive. It gave us a boost and it’s what we needed,” Hillier said.
Following the game-saving reception, Hackney connected with Hillier and Rodney Blaise for four consecutive first downs leading to a Hackney touchdown on a quarterback sneak.
“I just did my job and completed the passes as we marched down the field. I just had to focus and key in on what I had to do,” Hackney said.
With 29.1 seconds remaining, the defending champion Red Bombers didn’t have enough time to come back, giving the Hurricanes their first victory of the season to roaring crowd at the UPEI Alumni Canada Games Place.
“We came through when it mattered most,” said Hurricanes linebacker Richard Lush.
The Hurricanes controlled the first half with a strong ground game led by running backs Arrien McDonald and Layton Aitken, who gained yards in large chunks.
At the end of the first quarter the Hurricanes led 10-1 on a Jay Dearborn field goal and a Hackney touchdown, respectively.
Early in the second, the Red Bombers tried to get their offence clicking, but to no avail, as they were consistently stopped by the Hurricanes strong defence.
After the Red Bombers conceded two points on a safety, they tried to trick the Hurricanes on the ensuing kickoff by attempting an onside kick. With a fortunate bounce and an eye on the end zone, Hurricanes’ Lush took the ball almost 45 yards for the score, extending their lead 19-1 before the half.
“I wasn’t even supposed to be on that team (special teams),” laughs Lush. “Coach comes aside and said ‘Lush, go in, go in.’ I go in and I see the kicker staring at me. I get the luckiest bounce in my life, and I’m a defensive player so whenever I get the ball I’m running. It felt fantastic, anything I can do to help team is great.”
For most of the second half, the Hurricanes offence was stagnant as they struggled to stay on the field, resulting in several punts. The Red Bombers took advantage, scoring on multiple drives.
Following a 45-yard reception, the Red Bombers completed their drive with a one-yard run to close the gap 19-8, late in the third.
A Hurricanes fumble shortly after led to a Red Bomber field goal at the end of the quarter, as they inched closer, 19-11.
Early in the fourth quarter, a short Hurricanes punt led to great field position for the Red Bombers at the opposition 20-yard line. They took advantage and scored six on a touchdown, making it 19-17.
The defending champions would eventually take the lead 20-19 on a field goal, in what was a 19-point turnaround.
It was a tale of two halves. The crowd was visibly shocked, they didn’t know how this sudden turnaround happened. But with 1:50 remaining in the game and a supportive crowd on their side, there was never a doubt that the Hurricanes would march down the field for a touchdown to pull off the 27-20 victory at home.
“I was proud of the whole team for keeping faith in each other. We could have folded but we found a way to scratch out a win. We definitely grew a bit as a team today,” said head coach Mark MacDougall.
The 1-1 Hurricanes will take on the Dalhousie University Tigers at 1 p.m. Sept. 28, here at the UPEI Alumni Canada Games Place.