The University of New Brunswick Red Bombers football squad’s 2015 season is off to a strong start.
The Red Bombers edged the Dalhousie University Tigers 37-31 in overtime Saturday at BMO Field in the fifth annual Tony Proudfoot Memorial Game during UNB’s Homecoming weekend.
With the win, the Red Bombers improve to 2-0 on the season, while Dalhousie falls to 0-2.
“It was a little closer than I would’ve liked,” UNB head coach Dan McCullough said. “We had the first half and made it hard on ourselves with stupid penalties, but down the stretch we showed our real colours.”
Before the game, the 2015 Tony Proudfoot Scholarship was presented to wide receiver Luke MacLeod.
The retirement of former Red Bombers player and long-time coach Mike Dollimore followed.
Close to four minutes into the contest, the Tigers were backed up in their own end and were forced to concede a safety which put the Red Bombers up 2-0.
Around two minutes later, UNB wide receiver Mitch McCoy received a punt from Dalhousie and didn’t look back, running across the field and to the house to give the Red Bombers a 9-0 lead.
After that, a 28-yard pass from Red Bombers quarterback Alex Dee was tipped and caught by wide receiver Josh Blanchard for another UNB touchdown, which gave them a 16-0 cushion after the first quarter.
The Tigers, however, weren’t going to roll over. With just under seven minutes left in the half,
the Red Bombers conceded a safety, getting Dalhousie on the board and cutting the deficit to 14.
A Tigers field goal with 2:12 to play in the second gave Dalhousie another three points.
With a minute and a half on the clock, the Tigers came within four points with a touchdown scored by Alex Bayne, leaving UNB’s lead at 16-12 at halftime.
“We sputtered on offense a bit,” said McCullough. “But we picked it up, and offense won us the game.”
Almost three minutes into the third quarter, Red Bombers punter Alex White conceded a safety, which would cut UNB’s advantage in half.
The Red Bombers weren’t ready to let the game slip away, though. With 6:35 to go in the third, Dee found Blanchard again, this time from 11 yards out to score a touchdown for UNB.
Close to three minutes into the fourth, the Tigers kicked in a field goal to score an extra three points.
With roughly seven minutes left of regulation, a Dalhousie’s long snapper launched the ball over his punter’s head. The fumbled snap was recovered for a touchdown by UNB defensive back Coel Storey, who recovered the ball in the end zone to extend the Red Bombers’ lead to 14 points.
A clutch performance on UNB’s part sealed the deal, but some late pressure from the Tigers was what forced extra time.
A Dalhousie touchdown by Zach Leger with 1:57 on the clock brought the Tigers within seven. Legere then snuck around a pileup in the Red Bombers’ end zone and past the line to score on the final play of regulation and tie the contest.
Red Bombers running back Turner Sturgeon had a chance to end it in extra time with a big 20-yard run but he was stopped by the Tigers’ defense.
Dee found Blanchard in the end zone for the third time of the game to send the Tigers packing, though.
Defensive back Angus Van Wagoner was named player of the game for the Red Bombers after recording three interceptions.
“We came in clutch there, and I was really loving it at the end,” he said.
McCullough said Wagoner was lights out for the Red Bombers.
“As a whole, our defense kept us in the game, and I preached special teams,” he said. “Anytime we’re still kicking the ball, we still have a chance to play, and we definitely made some plays kicking the ball.”
The Red Bombers and Tigers rematch Saturday, Sept. 26 at 1 p.m. in Halifax. UNB faces the Holland College Hurricanes Saturday, Oct. 3 at 1 p.m., then hosts Holland College Saturday, Oct. 10 at 1 p.m.
Heading into those matchups, McCullough said, the Red Bombers need to focus.
“We have the talent all across the board, but we have to focus and minimize penalties,” he said. “That’s what’s killing us, along with off sides and unsportsmanlike conducts. There’s no place for that.”