Playing in the AFL Championship for the Moosehead Cup, the Tigers fell 32-24 to the Holland College Hurricanes in Charlottetown, PEI on Saturday, Nov. 7. The win gave the Hurricanes their third straight championship.
The Tigers got on the board first early in the game when the Hurricanes were backed up deep in their own end and decided to concede a safety in order to gain field position. The safety made the score 2-0 for the Tigers.
That was all the points the Tigers would generate in the first half. The Hurricanes scored 25 unanswered points to go into halftime up 25-2. The Tigers D could not contain the big-play as the Hurricanes busted two deep runs around the edge for touchdowns and another deep touchdown pass to build their lead. They added a rouge in the middle and a field goal right before halftime in tallying the 25 points.
Late in the first half, the Tigers brought Matt Shannon in to play QB and shifted starting QB Nick Hunsley to SB trying to spark their Offense. The move paid off early in the third quarter. Shannon hit WR Alex Bayne down the right sideline and Bayne cut to the middle of the field and raced about 80-yards before being tackled at the Hurricanes two-yard line. Two plays later Hunsley took a SB sweep around the edge to the right pylon for the TD. The extra-point made the score 25-9.
The Hurricanes were forced to punt on their next possession. Tigers returner Mackenzie Inglis fielded the ball at his own 45-yard line in front of the Hurricanes bench and worked up-field for a five-yard return on a seemingly routine play.
However, a flag came in for a late hit at the end of the return and Hurricanes head coach Kyle Quinlan voiced his displeasure at the call. One of the officials broke a cardinal rule and said something back to him, which caused Quinlan to storm the field shouting at the official. Quinlan was ejected from the game and 30-yards worth of penalties were applied against the Hurricanes.
The Tigers went first and 10 from the Hurricanes 30-yard line and worked the ball inside the five. The Tigers were unable to put any points on the board after a fumble gave the Hurricanes the ball back. Tigers head coach Alan Wetmore questioned the call saying that the forward momentum of the player had been stopped before the fumble but his appeal fell on deaf ears.
A Mackenzie MacNeil interception gave the Tigers the ball back heading into the fourth quarter.
Shannon hit Louis Gauvin for a drive saving play on third and five. Then lofted a perfect pass that hit Hunsley in stride on a corner route to the left for a 20-yard gain. After a sack had backed the Tigers up Shannon lofted a ball to Bayne that drew a pass interference penalty on the Hurricanes and gave the Tigers a first and goal from the one. Hunsley scored on a QB keeper behind left guard two plays later. The Tigers decided to kick the extra point to make the score 25-16.
The Tigers attempted on onside kick but the ball sailed out of bounds. On the next Hurricanes play QB Anton Sianchuck found WR Steve Knapton who beat double coverage up the right sideline for a 70-yard TD. The long pass and extra point made the score 32-16.
With time running out in the game the Tigers were able to score again with five seconds left on the clock. They converted a two-point convert try to make the score 32-24. A Hurricanes recovery on the ensuing kickoff ended the Tigers comeback bid.
Opinion: This was a vastly improved Tigers team over the 2014 version. I had written coming out of last season that coach Wetmore and his staff would put a much better product on the field for 2015 given a full offseason for recruitment and training and they did not disappoint. With another full off-season, I expect Wetmore and company to take the program to an even higher level in 2016.