Despite entering Homecoming weekend in first place in the AFL, the UNB Red Bombers know there is no room for complacency heading into their matchup against the last place UNBSJ Seawolves on Saturday.
The Bombers secured sole possession of top spot in their league last week with an emphatic victory over the defending champions, the Dalhousie Tigers.
After a relatively even first quarter that saw UNB open up a 3-0 lead, the Bombers were able to gain momentum throughout the second quarter as they extended their lead to 10-1 heading into the game’s second half.
The beginning of the third quarter saw the Bombers’ improved passing game begin to take over as first year quarterback Hunter Sturgeon connected with wide receiver Mitch McCoy on a beautiful 61 yard touchdown. This was a sign of things to come for the remainder of the game.
The game was not without adversity for the Red Bombers, however. Soon after the McCoy touchdown they lost starting middle linebacker Blair Mangione to a serious looking leg injury that saw him leave the field in an ambulance.
The Tigers then scored their first touchdown of the game on the very first play after the lengthy delay. However, UNB showed excellent resilience to regain the momentum by immediately responding with a quality drive which saw them pick up another three points to increase their lead to 20-8.
The Red Bombers never looked back, adding two more passing touchdowns before the end of the quarter. They would go on to win the game by a score of 41-24 and hand the Tigers their first loss in over a year.
“It’s a big win,” said Bombers head coach Dan McCullough. “Any time you can take out a top notch team like that it’s going to be a huge momentum boost.”
McCullough was particularly pleased by the play of his rookie quarterback, saying, “We have a talented group of receivers and he just knows where to put the ball and let them go make plays.”
Despite the impressive victory, the team knows it would be a mistake to underestimate their upcoming opposition despite the Seawolves struggles so far.
“We see how Saint John fared in their games against Holland College and [Dalhousie] the last couple weeks and I’ve got to beat it into our guys that they are still a good football team. Just because they had a couple of rough games doesn’t mean we need to take them lightly,” said McCullough, adding, “That’s when you get bit, when you take an opponent lightly.”
McCullough sees the upcoming Homecoming festivities as a major motivating factor for the team in the week ahead.
“It’s huge. We take pride in our alumni and we really want to have a good showing for them. Our guys get pretty excited for the Homecoming game.”