The Central Alberta Buccaneers are advancing to the Alberta Football League semi-finals following a 20-17 win over the Edmonton Stallions at ME Global Athletic Park in Lacombe this past Saturday evening.
The back and forth battle between the Buccaneers and the Stallions saw the two teams trading touchdowns with the Bucs defense bringing strong pressure on the Stallions quarterback throughout the first two quarters.
Despite their strong defense the Bucs gave up two touchdowns and a field goal in the first half.
However, the team rallied and responded to the Stallions loose defense through a string of both running and passing plays to leave a score of 14-17 on the board at the end of the half.
After half-time the two teams returned to the field in what Todd Lewis, linebacker for the Buccaneers and chairman of the board, called a, “Game of defensive attrition.”
Lewis added the ball was punted often by both teams causing a battle for field position.
Eventually, the Bucs would drive close enough to the Stallion end zone for the field goal unit to take formation. They tied the game in the third at 17-17.
With a minute left, Buccaneers number five Tylor Johannesson would split the uprights for the game winning field goal, making the score 20-17 and, as a result, earning the Bucs a semi-finals berth.
This back and forth battle wasn’t the first time the Buccaneers had taken on the Stallions, having met the team in regular season play where they were able to edge the Stallions in a close 20-14 battle.
Lewis explained the team was prepared for a tough match.
“During the week’s practices leading up to the game, we knew we would face adversity,” said Lewis. “Three team captains were unable to attend the game and the team faced the departure of other key personnel.”
Buccaneers quarterback Jarrett Burzuk stated he was proud of the way they handled adversity on the team. “No matter what curveball gets thrown in the way, we have rallied when needed,” said Burzuk.
Lewis added Burzuk was responsible for a number of key plays, which ensured the success of the team during the match-up against the Stallions.
“He rose to the occasion,” said Lewis. “He made key, drive-extending plays, including a creative bootleg-pass that found number 19 Axsivier Lawrence deep down field.”
Lawrence praised the gutsy performance of Burzuk, saying that he, “Followed the game plan to a tee and only had one incomplete pass.”
Burzuk added the support of their fans made a huge difference in the game, with Lewis adding the Bucs got a helping hand from the audience during the game. He stated thanks to Bucs announcer Kelly McCheyne, the bleachers were often chanting and cheering, urging the Bucs to victory.
“We have the whole community backing us and that’s relieving to know as we move forward in the playoffs,” said Burzuk.
The Bucs are on the road in order to take on the number two seeded Fort McMurray Monarchs. During regular season, the Monarchs handed the Bucs one of their two losses for the season.
Defensive lineman Tony Dawson predicts the game will be a “dog fight.”
“They are a great team,” said Dawson on the Monarchs. “But if we come together as a unit, I like our chances.”
Lewis added if the Bucs are able to top the Monarchs, it will be the first time in franchise history for the Buccaneers to advance to finals.