Familiar foes set to do battle in Football Canada Cup semifinal round

by Jamie Geisler

By John Edwards

REGINA (July 9) – Day 2 of the Football Canada Cup is set for Wednesday, July 10, and the four games will see pairs of teams that are certainly familiar with each other, with them all having crossed swords in the same round in each of the past two championships.

The day’s action, which is set for Leibel Field at the University of Regina, gets underway at 10 a.m., with the first consolation semifinal between Nova Scotia and Manitoba, with the second consolation semifinal following at 1 p.m. with B.C. taking on New Brunswick. The championship semifinals start at 4 p.m., with Quebec taking on Alberta, while the hosts from Saskatchewan wrap up action at 7 p.m., as they take on Ontario.

In the consolation bracket, Nova Scotia and Manitoba will meet for the third straight time. The teams split their two previous meetings, with the Maritimers winning 25-2 last year in Edmonton, avenging a 28-10 defeat at the 2022 event in Kelowna.

The New Brunswick-B.C. matchup will also be the rubber match in their post-pandemic series. B.C. cruised past N.B. 36-3 at home in Kelowna two years ago, before New Brunswick prevailed 9-8 in a defensive struggle last year in Edmonton.

On the championship side, the rivalry between Quebec and Alberta will continue for the seventh straight time, as the teams have met in the semifinals at every FCC since 2016. Quebec has a 4-2 edge in those games, but Alberta will be keen to avenge their 42-10 loss on home soil last year. Meanwhile, Saskatchewan and Ontario will also meet for the sixth straight time. Saskatchewan has won all six of those meetings, including a narrow 15-12 win last year, but the Ontarians will be keen to pull off the upset of the hosts.

DAY 1 RECAP

The quarterfinals on Day 1 saw Ontario defeat Nova Scotia 58-0, Alberta shut out New Brunswick 22-0, Quebec cruise past B.C. 50-19, and Saskatchewan down their neighbours from Manitoba 36-7.

ONTARIO 58 NOVA SCOTIA 0

 Team Ontario opened the 2023 Football Canada Cup with a 58-0 shutout of Nova Scotia. The Ontarians got on the board just 3:19 in the game, on a 58-yard punt return touchdown by Matthew Stam. Stam added a second touchdown to his account later in the half, helping Ontario to a 39-0 halftime lead. McAllaster Holmes had a pair of rushing touchdowns for Ontario, while Gabriel Hamilton found the end zone twice through the air – one from Riley Chambers in the first half, and another from Holmes in the second. The other Ontario touchdown came on a 19-yard interception return by Carter Gooden late in the first half. Zachary Aubin had 11 points on a 40-yard field goal, two singles and seven converts, while a pair of safety touches rounded out the scoring.

Ontario outgained Nova Scotia 340-24 and made 19 first downs to Nova Scotia’s five.

Nova Scotia’s offence was led by Jesse Allison, who completed eight passes for 72 yards. For Ontario, Chalmers completed six of 10 passes for 70 yards, while Holmes went 4-for-8 for 85 yards. Ontario’s Massimo Ferrone-Byrd led all rushers with eight carries for 69 yards. The special teams highlight for Nova Scotia came when Marcellus Young-Casario blocked a punt, which was recovered by Malakai Cuvelier-Brooks, in the third quarter.

ALBERTA 22 NEW BRUNSWICK 0

Alberta returned to the semifinals as they shut out New Brunswick 22-0. George Arbez scored a pair of touchdowns for Alberta – both on short runs, while Darius Crandell had the other major for the victors. A pair of singles and two conversions by Ira Hozack rounded out the scoring. Alberta held a narrow 7-0 lead after the first half, but scored a pair of third-quarter touchdowns to put the game away.

Alberta outgained New Brunswick 384-142 and made 26 first downs, while holding New Brunswick to only eight.

For New Brunswick, Leo Foster led the offensive efforts with 58 receiving yards on four carries. Oliver Hicks, Hazen Rossiter and Evan Stockman split the quarterbacking duties for N.B., as they combined to go 7-for-14 for 84 ayrds.

For Alberta, Seth Poelzer racked up 121 rushing yards on 16 carries. Kohen Bohnet competed 8 of 15 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown. Arbez went 7-for-11 for 94 yards and added the two short rushing touchdowns. Crandell was the pick of the receivers with five catches for 98 yards and the major.

Nathaniel Kinney and Raymond Lombeh led New Brunswick with 6.5 tackles each, while Joseph Abou Mechrek led Alberta with six tackles overall, including one sack and two others for losses.

QUEBEC 50 BRITISH COLUMBIA 19

Zachary Deschamps scored a pair of touchdowns to lead Quebec back into the semifinals as they eased past B.C. 50-19. He scored on short runs in the first and third quarters, as Quebec went out to a 14-0 first-quarter lead and led 29-6 at halftime. The other Quebeckers to find the end zone were Maxime Latendresse, Antoine Fafard, Olivier Dallaire, Jonathan Keita and Sebastien Mari. Kicker Tristan Charpentian rounded out the scoring with seven converts and a single point.

For B.C., Brady Schutz scored a pair of touchdowns, while Quinn Kayfish hit paydirt once on an 82-yard punt return in the third quarter.

Quebec’s Mari led all rushers with 115 yards on eight carries, including his 31-yard score. Louis Fortier went 10-for-25 passing for 237 yards with a pair of touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. His favourite target was Dallaire, who had four catches for 110 yards.

The B.C. defence was led by Jack Roberts, who had eight tackles and knocked down a pass. Brady Doucette, Wyatt Poitras and Anderson Bicknell each made an interception. For Quebec, Antoine Beaudoin and Émile Paradis each had a sack, with Beaudoin finishing on a team-high four tackles.

SASKATCHEWAN 36 MANITOBA 7

Receiver Ty Fedak-Andrews scored a pair of touchdowns while Ty Gorniak made all five of his field goal attempts  as the hosts Saskatchewan eclipsed Manitoba in an all-Prairie quarterfinal. Fedak-Andrews scored on receptions from two and five yards out, respectively, in the first and third quarters. Meanwhile, Gorniak was perfect off the tee, hitting on field goals from 28, 39, 16, 22 and 40 yards out as he finished the day with 18 points. The other Saskatchewan touchdown came on a reception by Noah Yasinski at the end of the third quarter. Manitoba averted the shutout on the last play of the game as Rogan Vergata and Mikun Odunuga connected on a 27-yard pass play.

Vergata went 11-for-16 passing for 147 yards. For Saskatchewan, Nolan Uhren was 6-for-7 for 89 yards and a touchdown, while Adrian Reaume was 12-for-21 for 138 yards and two majors. Fedak-Andrews finished his day with six catches for 47 yards, while Noah Yasinski had three receptions for 65 yards.

Jesse Deneka was Manitoba’s leading tacklers, with 14.5 on the day (10 solo, 9 assisted), including one tackle for loss. Destiny Okedara and Connor Bradley each recorded a sack. For Saskatchewan, Lucian Verity had their only sack, while Jak Reich had a team-high four solo tackles.

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