Nathan Zacharias carries the ball downfield during the first half of the Red Dogs 18-10 win against the Chargers at Edmonton’s Clarke Field on Saturday. JAMIE HARKINS LLS PHOTO
A comeback road win proved an early-season disappointment to the Lloydminster Red Dogs football team.
The Red Dogs battled back from a second quarter 8-0 deficit and 8-6 fourth quarter disadvantage to beat the Edmonton Chargers 18-10 at a chilly Clarke Field on Saturday afternoon.
Strong defence paved the way to the victory, but it was an inability to execute on offence that seemed to occupy the players’ thoughts following the contest.
“I thought the cold didn’t help us, but we weren’t really doing our assignments on offence,” said Red Dogs quarterback Anton Amundrud, noting they started to perform in the second half. “We just had to smarten up because that is not how we play. The coaches gave us a talking to (at halftime) and then we finally played.”
Both teams’ defences kept the ball near midfield throughout the opening six minutes of the first quarter. The Chargers gained the first field advantage late in the frame thanks to a few powerful punts by Justin Quinones, but their offence failed to make any gains from the red zone.
A strong Chargers press coupled with the Red Dogs penchant for penalties ensured the ball remained in the latter’s end during the opening minutes of the second quarter. To help stop the push, Red Dogs kicker Ethan Mather took a knee in his end zone at the 6:10 mark to give up the 2-0 lead and move the ball back into the middle of the field.
Chargers kicker and running back Quinones returned the pigskin to the Red Dogs end zone about a minute-and-a-half later on a zigzag run up the middle for the 8-0 lead.
Amundrud connected with Nathan Zacharias on a long pass into the Chargers zone on the Red Dogs next possession. Matthew Morin then punched the ball in from the one-yard line to bring the score to 8-6 with 2:21 left to play in the half.
The Red Dogs came out with a focus on stopping Quinones in the second half, which basically halted the Chargers run game.
“As soon as he got the ball, we had a ton of guys just rally to him and try to make plays,” said Mather, who also lined up as a defensive back for the Red Dogs. “We had a bunch of guys come down on him really quickly because we knew that he was going to get the ball and we’d read toward where he was running.”
Mather picked off a short pass by Chargers quarterback Kaelan Jensen deep in the home side’s zone a few minutes into the fourth quarter. Morin scored on the ensuing play with a run to the corner through traffic from eight yards out to give his team the 12-8 advantage.
A couple of great runs by Quinones followed to give the Chargers a chance to regain the lead, but a second key interception by Mather near his goal line stopped the threat. Mather took another knee in his end zone shortly after to give up the safety and move the ball out of harm’s way.
Red Dogs quarterback Dante Tabacu found Brady Rogers on a 28-yard strike to bring the score to 18-10 with 1:15 remaining in the game. The win marked the Red Dogs second straight of the six-game Capital District Minor Football Association midget Tier 1 season, but the way they got it still left something to be desired.
“It’s good that we got the win, but we didn’t get it as much as we’d like to because this league is about points,” said Amundrud.
“How many points you have is how (a championship) comes down. So, yeah, we had a great win, but we didn’t play amazing.”