The UNB Red Bombers lifted the Moosehead Cup for the first time since 2012 this past weekend as are Atlantic Football League champions.
The Bombers capped off their excellent season on Saturday afternoon at BMO Field with a thrilling 39-35 victory over the Dalhousie Tigers after a back-and-forth offensive duel.
Led by rookie quarterback Hunter Sturgeon, UNB’s offence managed yet another strong performance despite the cold and windy weather conditions throughout the game.
The Red Bombers’ dynamic and well-rounded offence has consistently been one of the team’s strengths this season, as they have put up at least 30 points in seven of their eight games—with the sole exception being their 30-21 defeat at the hands of the Holland College Hurricanes in early October.
Their offence was ranked first in the league during the regular season, scoring 231 total points in six games played, over 50 more than the second-ranked Hurricanes.
The team’s offence seemed to only improve in the post-season, as they defeated the UNB Saint John Seawolves by an incredible score of 66-0 in the semi-finals before their victory over the defending champions this past weekend.
UNB’s victory over Dalhousie marked the third time the two teams had faced off this season, with each of the games being competitive and high-scoring affairs. Their first meeting was a 41-24 win for the Red Bombers on their home turf in a game that firmly established them as the team to beat in the AFL.
Their second meeting—this time on the road at Dalhousie’s Wickwire Field—came one week after UNB’s sole loss this season. While the game was much more even than their first against the Tigers, UNB managed to pull off a 35 – 31 win to get themselves back on track and show that they still deserved to be considered favourites for the championship title.
Dalhousie’s road to the championship game was not quite as smooth. Coming off of a remarkable season in 2016—one that saw the team undefeated—the Tigers lost all but two of their six regular season games. Despite this, they proved that they are still a force to be reckoned with by upsetting the second-ranked Holland College Hurricanes by a score of 21-18 in the semi-finals.
Coming into the season, Red Bombers’ head coach Dan McCullough told The Brunswickan that the team was using Dal’s 2016 season as motivation and were aiming for an undefeated season of their own.
“We want to be the Dalhousie of last year,” he said at the time. “I want to go undefeated and I want there to be no question of who the 2017 AFL champs were.”
While the team did not quite meet the lofty goal, they have left no doubts regarding their status as the best team in the AFL this year.