The Central Alberta Buccaneers were out for revenge against the Fort McMurray Monarchs after dropping the first game of the season on the road earlier this year.
Compounding the issue, first place in the Alberta Football League (AFL) was also on the line when the Bucs’ and Monarchs squared off at Setters Place field on Aug. 11th.
Unfortunately for the Bucs’, a key injury to their quarterback Brandon Leyh would steal defeat from victory, leading to a Monarch 35-17 win.
With neither team having to jump too many hurdles thus far into the season, the first quarter played out as expected with neither team figuring out how to crack the opposing team’s defence.
The Monarchs would finally break the seal after Bucs’ quarterback Leyh was caught deep in his own zone and was forced to concede two points.
The Bucs’ followed that up with straight fire, managing to score two touchdowns from Brandon Leyh — one 10-yard score Ben Hnatiuk and the other, a 30 yard score to Tylor Johannesson, putting the Bucs up 14 -2.
The Monarchs would have the answer when their quarterback took the ball a yard, closing the score to 14-9 — which would be where the game would stand at the end of the first half.
The second half took a little while longer to get going after a half hour lightning delay but the game did continue, with a huge win within both team’s grasp.
Unfortunately for the Bucs, Leyh would take a nasty hit after a 10-yard run which left him out of commission for the rest of the game, leaving Josh Blanchard to assume the pivot.
“I think we win by a pretty decent amount if our quarterback stays in the game,” Johannesson said. “He is the best player in the league and makes our team go.”
On the same drive, the Bucs’ would add three points to their lead on a kick by Johannesson, putting them up 17-9.
The Bucs’ would face some adversity though after a Blanchard interception lead to a Monarch touchdown. The Bucs’ would dodge a bullet on the ensuing two-yard conversion after Fort McMurray failed to capitalize, leading to 17-15 Bucs’ lead.
“Our defence held us in there. We tried to stick in it but we couldn’t score points,” Johannesson said.
The Bucs hopes of a big win would be tragically thwarted after Keon Hughes caught a 20-yard pass with 2:07 remaining, putting Fort McMurray up 21-17 after the failed two-point conversion.
The Monarchs would add another score after Bryce Harper ran it home, putting the Monarchs up 28-17, immediately followed by another score with three seconds remaining, leading to the final score of 35-17.
Johannesson said the final touchdown with seconds remaining won’t be forgotten heading into a potential rematch in two weeks.
“We know why they did it. They want to say they won 35-17. I think they know, we know and everyone here knows after what happened with our quarterback, that wasn’t the true score of the game. They need that for their egos,” Johannesson said.
With the loss, the Bucs’ remain in second place heading into their home playoff game next week in Red Deer.