2016 Canada Cup: Run game, big catch leads Alberta to opening day victory over NS
By Kevin Hirschfield, special to Football Canada
Photo credit: Mike Lukyn
A strong running game and a stifling defence helped Team Alberta make the first big impression at the 2016 Football Canada Cup in Winnipeg.
The fourth-ranked Albertans rolled to a 32-6 win over fifth-seeded Nova Scotia to advance to the semifinal round.
“We got a working class group of guys,” said Alberta coach Chris Morris. “We kept playing, kept coming, our o-line comes off the ball, and we run the ball hard. It was a good win.”
Alberta running backs Alex Gayle (Jasper Place – Edmonton) and Tanner Sudo (LCI – Lethbridge) carried the load with a touchdown each, while QB Tae Gordon (Cochrane – Cochrane) took off for some big gains with his feet as well.
“We want to run the football and control the line of scrimmage,” said Alberta coach Chris Morris. “We really feel good about our group up front and our running backs, and we have a few of them so it’s nice to rotate through.”
The defence held Nova Scotia to just a lone touchdown in the fourth quarter and allowed their opponents minimal big gains.
It was through the air, however, where the game’s biggest play was made.
After Alberta took 3-0 lead into the second quarter off a punt single and a Nova Scotia conceded safety, Alberta receiver Prince Kivia (Henry Wise Wood – Calgary) made a highlight-reel catch, hauling in a bomb from QB Tae Gordon and taking it 75 yards to the endzone for a 10-0 lead.
That catch and a Beko Wande (Notre Dame – Red Deer) 64-yard interception return on the next Nova Scotia offensive drive seemed to deflate the Maritimers, who never could get things going offensively.
After another conceded safety by Nova Scotia, Gayle (13-yard TD) and Sudo (5-yard TD) each found the endzone on the ground, giving the Albertans 24 second-quarter points and a 25-0 halftime lead.
The teams split touchdowns in the second half with Alberta receiver David Mueller (Lacombe – Lacombe) grabbing a 17-yard catch, while running back Adam Bennett (Sir John A. McDonald – Upper Tantalon) broke the goose egg in the fourth quarter for Nova Scotia on a 1-yard run.
Despite the opening loss, Nova Scotia felt they brought their best effort.
“The second quarter was horrendous, that’s where they pulled away,” said Nova Scotia coach Steve Snyder. “But first, third and fourth quarter, we were right there and outplayed them in phases of the game. We were a little bit tired early in 2nd and it hurt us, so we got to make sure we’re playing four quarters.”
It is Alberta’s sixth straight trip to the semifinals. They will now face the winner of the Saturday’s final game between defending champion Quebec and Manitoba-Silver while Nova Scotia faces the loser.
This post is also available in: French