THE RICK RIVERS’ REPORT: 2021 VOL. 5 – October 18, 2021
TIGERS WIN ALUMNI CUP
Dalhousie Tigers’ head coach, Mark Haggett, was blissfully happy as he regaled some of the happenings in a huge home team comeback victory outside the locker room. Two weeks earlier, the black and gold didn’t play a complete game and lost their first game of the season, 35-24 to the UNBF Reds. Tonight, Dal exploded out of the gate and led 24-0 at halftime and won 25-8 in a barn burner late in the fourth quarter over the Reds to win the Alumni Cup.
The above scores gave the Tigers a two-game total of 49, six more than the Reds and first place in the AFL, provided they win next week’s home game versus the winless UNBSJ Seawolves.
Coach Haggett is the first to tell you that one of the hardest things in coaching is recruiting. We know that he has been very diligent in this area, and it has paid dividends over his tenure. This year he feels he has the “finest group of young men ever”. In excess of 80 players showed up for this year’s camp. And let’s not forget the great coaching staff he has assembled to make the three important teams within the team mesh.
Now let’s get back to the game! Dalhousie’s offensive line continued to show its’ will this game helping RB Waugh to 200 yards on 23 carries for two TDs. Waugh scored his first of two majors from four yards out, after QB Duplisea had set it up on a 28-yard connection with Aiden Keefe. The Dal QB then led the black and gold on an 86-yard march, culminating in a seven-yard run by him for the Cats’ second score. Lightning (#21) scored his second from 12 yards. Waugh also led the receivers in receptions, 4 for 113 yards. Reid Marchand converted all three and Okyay Kepenek was good on a 19 FG to put the Dalhousians up 24-0 at the half.
The second half was like WWI trench warfare. A few gains here and there but no real marches until late in the fourth Q. Hunter Sturgeon, the Reds’ QB, not as elusive this game as last, because of Dalhousie’s D, would capitalize on a few runs and passes. Josh Byron led the D with 7 tackles while Eric Purcell had 6. Connor McCormick and Liam Chisari both had 5 T’s and a couple of incredible knock downs of the Reds’ passes. Nate Whidden, Logan Hillier and Will Keneford each had picks.
The 4th Q turned into clock watching time. Dal would add a point off of a missed FG, leaving them up 14 points for the Alumni Cup. With about 6 minutes to go, UNBF put a drive together with passes to Dom Hall and Jake McKay and a few short runs by Jonathan Marino. Sturgeon scored on a QB sneak and then completed a pass to McKay for the two-point convert. The Reds were now only down seven for the Cup. Wickwire became noticeably quieter as the Tigers couldn’t maintain possession and gave up the ball with less than two minutes left. Tic tok, tic tok as UNBF threw a number of passes, more incomplete which would stop the clock but a few that kept their march alive. Four seconds remained as Sturgeon threw for at least a tie. Hard hitting veteran CB, Will Keneford picked it which sent the over 600 fans into hysteria.
The D had bent but did not break and now the black and gold were in first place in the AFL. There were high fives, man hugs, handshakes and continuous cheering in the stands which rolled onto the field to embrace the victors. Could this be another year of the Tiger like in 2016 and 2018? The Dalhousie mastermind was heard to say, “I’m proud”.
The Tigers should be home for the next three Saturdays, culminating in the AFL championship on November 6th at Wickwire. By the way, the Tigers played their first Canadian football game 75 years ago on Studley Field which is now Wickwire and defeated St. Mary’s College, 9-7 on September 28th.
SHOUT-OUTS TO: Chris Dyer for his fine commentary on the Internet and the over a thousand that tuned in. To Eugene McMinns who brought a new VIB to the music and commentary. To the Haggett brothers horns for keeping things hopping and especially to Tiger Nation, young and old for their boisterous support!