Manitoba-Gold responds with shutout of New Brunswick
Photo credit: Mike Lukyn
By Kevin Hirschfield, Special to Football Canada
Manitoba-Gold responded from being shutout on Saturday night with a shutout of their own on Tuesday during Day 2 of the 2016 U18 Football Canada Cup.
A 13-0 win in the consolation semifinals over New Brunswick assures the host squad will surpass their seventh-place finish from last year’s event, although coach Donald Burrell says they are not likely to take it as a moral victory.
“We came into this tournament wanting to be in the medal round, but I’m glad the kids can get the losing taste out of their mouth,” said Manitoba coach Donald Burrell. “It’s a win, so we’ll take it. Anytime you keep any team off the board, that’s a good job.”
Manitoba’s defence bent, but never broke on Tuesday, allowing some big plays, but keeping New Brunswick off the scoreboard. The Manitobans have yet to allow a touchdown in this tournament after holding Saskatchewan to 11 points (3 field goals, 1 safety) in an 11-0 loss Saturday.
Defensive back Galata Gurmu made a big impact Tuesday, blocking two punts and intercepting another ball.
“It just shows you his football smarts,” said Burrell. “We didn’t practice any blocks this week and he came on the sideline and said ‘Coach I can get through, can I go?’
“He saw something he thought he could take advantage of.”
Manitoba came out running the ball on their opening drive with Brandon Urciuoli and Kaeden Corrie carrying the load down the field before backup quarterback Dayton Black scored the game’s opening touchdown on a 1-yard sneak.
Urcuoli finished with 77 yards on 10 carries, while Corrie had 4 carries for 66 yards.
Those would be the game’s only points until the fourth quarter as both defences held strong. Receiver Brayden Saville caught a 7-yd pass from quarterback Andreas Dueck to give Manitoba its final touchdown of the game with just over five minutes left in the game.
Dueck finished 10 of 20 for 112 yards and a touchdown, while receiver Tyler Fedak had four catches for 61 yards.
New Brunswick was led by speedy RB/REC Aidan O’ Neal, who had 17 carries for 94 yards and another catch for 22 yards, plus 8 kick returns for a combined 101 yards. Quarterback Hunter Sturgeon also took off for some big gains, rushing it 7 times for 97 yards.
NB coach Chris Hopkins was proud of the team’s play, keeping it a one-possession game until midway through the fourth quarter.
“It was an extraordinary team effort, ” Hopkins said. “I’m so extremely proud of our guys. If you look back at the evolution of the program from when we came in 2012, this program is on the rise. I don’t think we’ve competed with a team in Canada Cup to that degree ever.”
“We have a great opportunity to make the statement we want to make in the next game.”
Manitoba-Gold now will face the winner of Nova Scotia/Manitoba Silver in the fifth place game Friday while New Brunswick will take on the loser in a showdown for seventh.
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