Dal football fumbles in second half
Three quarterbacks in action in 33 – 6 flop
The UNB Saint John Seawolves picked up where they left off last season, with a big win in their season opener Saturday afternoon against the host Dalhousie Tigers football team.
In front of a crowd of 1,575, the Seawolves won the AFL title rematch, using a potent ground game to pound the Tigers defensive line and grind out a 33 – 6 victory in favour of the reigning champs.
Despite the lopsided scoreline, the Tigers were behind just 13 – 6 at the half, but ran out of steam midway through the third quarter before the coaching staff began to rotate their starters out.
The Seawolves pegged an early lead when fullback Charlie Harroun punched in two short touchdowns in the first quarter, while their defensive line caused havoc on Tigers quarterback Brendan Festeryga and his offensive line.
With a 13 – 0 deficit after the first quarter, the Tigers turned to backup quarterback Scott Seamone, who managed to find a rhythm and calm his line down. He was given a reprieve moments later when he threw an interception, although the play was called back because of a Seawolves offside.
Seamone opened the scoring for the home fans midway through the the second quarter, finding a wide open Brock Schmuland to claw back the deficit to seven points at halftime.
Dal’s starting pivot Festeryga was reintroduced for the second half and played a scoreless third quarter before the Seawolves got on the board in quick succession. Early in the fourth quarter, the Seawolves added a rouge and lit up the Tigers with three consecutive touchdowns.
Festeryga was on the wrong end of a scoring play early in the quarter when his pass was picked off and returned for a touchdown by defensive back Jordan Lawrence, putting the Seawolves up 20 – 6.
Justin Cavan put an exclamation point on the win around the five minute mark, taking a 65-yard run for the score and emphatically stiff arming a Tigers defensive player on the play. Shortly after Isaiah Nice iced the game for the Seawolves with a 27-yard run.
The Tigers fell 20 – 0 in the disappointing fourth quarter.
With his team behind 33 – 6, head coach Mike Tanner used the final moments to substitute more of his starters out of the match. Third-string quarterback Mike Tassone saw action in the final three minutes.
“We used the opportunity to let some of the guys in who wouldn’t normally see some action,” said Tanner. “It was an opportunity to see what they could do and learn from it.”
The game, according to Tanner, was more competitive than the scoreboard led on.
“The scoreline was a bit harsh. Take back that interception and a fumble, add in the goal-line attempt we missed and it’s a much closer game.”
The Tigers could have evened the match in the final seconds of the third quarter when they were inches away from a touchdown; however, the Seawolves defense came out strong to hold the score.
“We will learn from this and move on,” said Tanner. “We have a tough opponent next week against Holland College and we will need to play better. Our offense didn’t get going and we need to fix that.”
When asked who his starter would be after playing three different players in the pocket, Tanner did not have an answer, saying he was impressed with backup Seamone’s performance and would determine Saturday’s starter at practice.
The Tigers face Holland College Saturday in PEI then return home for a mid-season exhibition game Saturday, Oct. 1 versus the Acadia Axemen’s practice roster.