Home has not been too kind for the Dalhousie Football Club.
The Tigers lost their second home match this season, again struggling to move the chains in front of their fans Sept. 29, only getting on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter when two late touchdowns brought the Tigers to within striking distance. Dal, whose sole victory has come on the road, is now 1-2 on the season following their 23-13 defeat against the 2-1 Holland College Hurricanes.
Despite the homecoming loss, Tigers coach Stuart MacLean is at least happy knowing their fourth quarter comeback bodes well for a more competitive rematch in Charlottetown on Thanksgiving weekend.
“We’ve got to stop making mistakes, we’ve got to know our assignments and play a better football game next week to beat them,” says MacLean. “They’re a good team.”
Dal’s offensive struggles were punctuated in a first half in which the Tigers may not have completed a single pass. The Tigers chose to rely more heavily on their running game and although they had more success, they could not get the points they needed.
Holland College had better luck offensively, however. Alex Fitzpatrick ran in a blocked punt at the end of the opening frame for their first touchdown. In the second quarter, the Hurricanes collected two additional points from a safety and Robbie Tufts caught a 40-yard or so pass off a brilliant lateral play that confounded Dal’s defenders, making it 16-0.
MacLean says the first half put his squad at an early disadvantage.
“If it wasn’t for the [blocked punt] and a trick play, the score would be really different. We scored 13 points, they scored 23 points, it’s only a 10-point differential,” he says.
The deficit for the Tigers was more pronounced in the fourth quarter, with a 23-0 climb for the Hurricanes to surmount. As the home crowd began to clear out, Dal gave their remaining fans something to cheer about. Quarterback Michael Tassone punched in their first touchdown only yards from the end zone and Sam Labenski did the same with about two minutes remaining in the match.
It was a memorable six points for Labenski, whose name wasn’t even on the game program. He decided just a week earlier to strap on the pads after a four-year hiatus from competitive football and he now has a touchdown to show for himself.
“I didn’t really expect it,” he says of contributing offensively. “I was doing more blocking for the receivers and such, which I’m glad to do, but when they gave it to me, called my number, I was pretty happy.”
With about a minute remaining in the first half, the match was suspended when some lights shining over Wickwire Field malfunctioned. The game’s officials decided to call an early intermission and an extra minute was added to the next half when the lights turned back on.