The Central Alberta Buccaneers were looking to build off the momentum birthed by 34-27 win over the the Fort McMurray Monarchs last week.
To do that, the would have to conquer the surging Calgary Wolfpack, who have confidently put together a 3-2 Alberta Football League (AFL) on the back of improved quarterback play.
It would indeed be the Wolfpack who would have the last laugh in this one after some late Bucs’ errors led to a 46-35 Calgary win.
The first half, however, would be more about the Wolfpack being unable to play in control — leading to two Bucs’ touchdowns.
Ben Hnatiuk, who had 190-yards receiving against the Monarchs, continued to lead the way for Central Alberta, including an amazing one-handed 11-yard catch for the Bucs first score of the game.
“A lot of it comes from the relationship I have with Burzy(QB Jarrett Burzuk),” Hnatiuk said. “We have a good chemistry, he seems to find me and I do what I have to do to go up and catch the ball.”
The Bucs would also be the receiver of good luck after two Wolfpack penalties on a Bucs punt attempt lead the Bucs’ immediately getting the ball back on the three-yard line. Matthew Leyh would punch home the necessary yards for the score.
The Wolfpack would add a touchdown and a field goal, leading to 14-10 Bucs’ lead before brief lighting delay with 1:28 to play. Following the break, the Bucs’ would stop the Wolfpack on short yardage, leading another Hnatiuk touchdown that made the game 21-10 before the half expired.
Hnatiuk would stay hot in the third quarter, scoring his third touchdown of the game and league-leading eighth of the season, putting the Bucs up 28-10.
“We came out right away and scored. The third quarter we held our own and then the fourth quarter we fell a part. I don’t know if it is guys getting tired. Our offence turning the ball over constantly doesn’t, obviously, help. We have to get in better shape. It is a big thing getting guys out to practice and actually running,” Hnatiuk said.
The Wolfpack would give their selves a fighter’s chance, scoring late in the quarter on a QB sneak to get the Bucs’ lead down to 28-16.
Calgary would continue to apply pressure early in the fourth quarter after a failed fake-punt attempt lead to a touchdown by Omari Fraser, putting the game to within one possession, 28-23.
It looked like the Bucs’ would regain their 12-point lead after Axsivier Lawrence ran home a big catch, but a taunting penalty right near the endzone eliminated the score and put the Bucs back into their own zone.
“Penalties killed us, myself included. It was undisciplined. We just have to get better, smarten up and the next game is up. We have the Irish next week,” Hnatiuk said.
The Wolfpack would capitalize and complete the comeback after Dylan Minshull scored on the ensuing play and also added the two-point conversion, leading to a 31-28 with 10 minutes to play.
The Bucs’ would continue to fall apart on the next possession, throwing an interception, followed by an unnecessary roughness penalty that led to another Wolfpack touchdown — leading to 38-28 lead.
Lawrence would be able to redeem himself for the earlier gaffe after he could a deep endzone bomb, leading to three-point, 38-35 Wolfpack lead, after the Bucs’ converted the two-point play.
The Wolfpack would, however, put the game out of reach on the next possession after a touchdown lead to a 46-35 lead with just over two minutes to play.
Calgary would pad their lead with under a minute remaining with a field goal, leading to a 49-35 final score.
“It is a lot harder than just getting blown out or losing straight up, especially with the way we were up,” Hnatiuk said.