Low-scoring Tigers need a hail mary
Football club 0 – 3 after fourth quarter lapse
With only four touchdowns and two extra points to show for themselves in three games, the Dalhousie Football Club did not have much to write home about on Thanksgiving weekend.
Dal’s winless streak extended to three games last Saturday afternoon at Wickwire Field after they turned a one-point deficit after the half into a 28 – 7 collapse against the Holland College Hurricanes.
The Hurricanes, who won the previous outing 16 – 13 on Sept. 24, sit atop the AFL with a 3 – 0 record.
Tigers head coach Mike Tanner didn’t mince words in describing his disappointment.
“I mean, I hope the kids are frustrated too because I haven’t lost three games in a row in my entire life,” he said. Tanner, a well-regarded coach in the city, was the first recipient of the NFL/CFL High School Coach of the Year award in 1999.
The Tigers looked poised to put up a fight as they entered halftime, profiting on a 25-yard passing play to Steven Fox in the final drive of the frame, closing the deficit to 8 – 7.
“I was concerned,” said Hurricanes head coach Mark MacDougall. “You give up a score on the last play of the half to basically tie it, and I was wondering how we would react to it. They’re young kids, something bad happens like that and the sky is falling, so I didn’t really know how that would work out in the second half.”
MacDougall had little to worry about as his first-place team chugged along, holding the Tigers off the board. The Hurricanes scored in the last second of the third quarter and added two further touchdowns in the fourth.
It’s a collapse Tanner has seen before.
“It’s funny. We’ve been in every game this year until the fourth quarter and then all of a sudden we don’t get that execution, we don’t get that sustained drive and we don’t get a break here or there,” explained the bench boss. “It’s just a snowball effect. Once it gets going bad, it stays bad and we’re having a hard time changing that.”
Consistent with a fourth-quarter crash for the Tigers this season is the quarterback carousel. Once again, Tanner gave both Brendan Festeryga and Scott Seamone playing time in the losing effort; an exception in this Thanksgiving game is that only two quarterbacks got on the field rather than three.
“I’m trying to find a guy that’s going to be able to lead us and right now I haven’t been able to do that,” Tanner said. “We’re just sort of spinning our wheels. I need one of them to step up and hopefully by this time next week somebody will.
Seamone played for most of the game. He was in relief shortly after the Hurricanes got their first touchdown midway through the opening frame after tight end Leslie Green took a short pass from quarterback Nick Hunsley for a gorgeous 28-yard run, streaking past several Dal defenders. Festeryga reentered late in the disappointing fourth quarter.
Dal had some commendable drives to begin the second half but could not make a dent on the scoreboard. It got worse later in the game as the Tigers’ inexperienced defence began to show itself. Robbie Tufts caught a wide open touchdown with 0.6 seconds left in the third quarter to make the contest 14 – 7. The final 15 minutes was all Dave Clark. He ran in two majors in a matters of minutes.
Clark’s two touchdowns contributed to 146 yards on 16 carries on the afternoon. The Tigers’ stat sheet was less impressive. Greg Pelly ran for 61 yards on 11 carries and Scott Seamone was three for eight with his throws, collecting only 43 yards.
Winless in their opening contests to a combined 77 – 26, Tanner explains it’s up to his team to change things around.
“[These losses] are a great learning experience, a great character builder, but, I mean, how are they going to come out next week? Are they going to mope around and feel sorry for themselves and quit or are they going to button the bonnet up a little tighter and play football?”
“My general consensus is that the guys are going to show up and play hard,” said Tanner. “I don’t question that.
The Tigers are opposite UNB Fredericton on Saturday, Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. The Red Bombers then head to Wickwire on Oct. 22 for the homecoming game. Tickets for the Lobster Tailgate party are still available.