Host Nova Scotia wins gold at U16 Eastern Challenge
Ontario takes home silver, Saskatchewan earns bronze
Under Friday Night Lights, Nova Scotia gave the home crowd something to cheer about.
The team won the gold medal on Friday night at the Football Canada U16 Eastern Challenge after defeating Ontario 35-21.
Nova Scotia ended the tournament undefeated with a 2-0 record. Ontario was 1-1 and ended up with the silver medal.
In the bronze medal game, Saskatchewan defeated New Brunswick 19-10. Saskatchewan’s record in the Challenge was 1-1. New Brunswick finished fourth with a 0-2 record.
NOVA SCOTIA 35, ONTARIO 21:
Malcolm Bussey scored three touchdowns to power Nova Scotia to victory.
In the first quarter, Nova Scotia opened the scoring when Brian McFarland caught an interception and converted it into a 26 yard major.
With 25 seconds left in the frame, Connor Oake connected with Matteo DiQuinzio for a 48 yard touchdown pass to increase Nova Scotia’s lead over Ontario.
Ontario got on the scoreboard when quarterback Nathan Falconi found Brendan Barron for a 1 yard touchdown in the second quarter. With 6:48 left in before halftime, Barron would add another major – a 69 yard rush to give Ontario the lead.
However, Nova Scotia regained the lead when Bussey snuck into the end zone for a 1 yard major.
At halftime, Nova Scotia led Ontario 21-14.
Bussey would register his second score of the game when he sprinted into the end zone for a 34 yard touchdown.
With 1:02 remaining in the game, Barron tallied his third major of the game to put Ontario within striking distance.
Nova Scotia put it out of reach within the last 25 seconds of the game when Bussey dashed into the end zone for a 2 yard touchdown, his third score in the game.
Players of the Game for Nova Scotia were RB Bussey (offence) and LB Connor Burns (defence). Ontario Players of the Game were RB Barron (offence) and DB Adam Dekraker (defence).
“It’s been crazy,” commented Nova Scotia Head Coach Jay Warren after the game. “First, I’d like to thank everybody that came out and supported us; I’d like to thank the parents, I’d really like to thank my wife and my family back home because it’s been a hard week for the kids.”
“But it’s just been an amazing ride. I owe it to all these guys. We have a special team and a coaching staff that is second to none. We’re really excited and we got two other big wins today so Nova Scotia football is definitely on the rise.”
For Nova Scotia, the gold medal represents the steady growth and progression the province has recently enjoyed in the sport.
“Just a little bit of recognition; I think we are a smaller province,” Warren expressed. “I think the attitude here will change.”
We’re becoming believers of what we have here and not that we are have-nots. Around the league too, I think its great for our kids. For recruiting purposes, there’s going to be more people coming down here to check what we’re doing here. It’s just good to get confirmation that we’re doing the right thing for football. We’re trying to help these kids grow and be successful. I think we’re starting to tune into that.”
As for Ontario, they were disappointed with the outcome of Friday’s game.
“I think Nova Scotia is very well coached,” said Ontario Head Coach Jon Binns. “Kids tried to bring their best today; they faltered at some times.”
“I am not sure plays and calls went the way we wanted to sometimes but that happens in the game of football. You need to rise above it. As far as silver, it’s not what we wanted to come away with but it’s something the boys can hang their hats on in a few years.”
SASKATCHEWAN 19, NEW BRUNSWICK 10:
Under two minutes into the first quarter, Saskatchewan’s special teams unit blocked New Brunswick’s punt.
Carter Shurvell capitalized on the opportunity by picking up the ball and taking it into the end zone for a five yard major.
Saskatchewan would increase their late in the first half when Leif Magnuson added a 28 yard field goal.
Oliver Longpre scored a four yard touchdown to put New Brunswick within distance of the lead.
At halftime, Saskatchewan led New Brunswick 10-7.
Late in the third quarter, Seth Hundeby recovered a New Brunswick fumble and took it all the way to the end zone for a 70 yard major to increase Saskatchewan’s lead.
Dylan Day added a 19 yard field goal for New Brunswick in the final quarter.
With two minutes remaining in the game, Magnuson secured the victory for Saskatchewan when he successfully booted a nine yard field goal.
Saskatchewan Players of the Game were OL Anthony Lukin (offence) and LB Hundeby (defence). Players of the Game for New Brunswick were RB Longpre and DB Dominic LeBlanc (defence).
“It was just a battle,” expressed Saskatchewan Head Coach Brian Guebert after the game. “New Brunswick has some great athletes and some scrappy players.”
“They made that win very tough on us. We probably left some things on the field but nevertheless, I couldn’t be more proud of how our guys responded and stayed disciplined and credit to these guys because they worked hard.”
Despite the outcome of Friday afternoon’s game, New Brunswick took some positives out of the game and tournament.
“We’re very proud of our team.,” said New Brunswick Head Coach Vince Sturgeon. “We’re very proud of how hard they worked through this process, very hard of how they worked today.”
“Disappointed we made a few too many mistakes but great effort by our guys and great time coaching these guys.”
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