BIG CRUNCH - Matt Merkley and the Central Alberta Buccaneers would power through the St. Albert Stars to take sole possession of second place in the AFL. Todd Colin Vaughan/Red Deer Express

Bucs manhandle St. Albert to take second in AFL

56-8 win puts Bucs’ right behind Ft. Mac in AFL standings

The Central Alberta Buccaneers were coming off their bye week looking to take sole possession of second place in the Alberta Football League.

The only thing standing in their way was the St. Albert Stars, who came into Red Deer with the league’s leading rush game.

Luckily for the Bucs’, the AFL’s leading passer — quarterback Brandon Leyh — would overpower the Stars on the way to a 56-8 win.

“That was a good day,” Receiver Ben Hnatiuk said. “Everything worked out perfect. Our o-line protected the quarterback and allowed him to make moves”

The Bucs’ would ease into the game, with neither team managing to find the scoreboard until 6:15 remaining of the first when Tylor Johannesson ran back a missed Stars 35-yard field goal attempt for a touchdown.

The Bucs’ would follow that up with Leyh finding Hnatiuk for a 25-yard connection, putting Central Alberta up 14-0.

“He (Leyh) is a big body in the pocket. He can stand in there, take the hit and move the ball down field. I have never played with a quarterback that is able to do that,” Hnatiuk said.

The home team would keep on rolling in the second quarter when Leyh found Preston Bailey for a three-yard score, putting the Bucs’ in control with a 21-0 lead.

The Stars would have the answer with 3:18 remaining after quarterback Troy Pappas found Adam Nesbitt for the score, putting them within striking distance 21-8 after the two-point conversion.

Hnatiuk would have the answer a minute later after Leyh found him deep in the endzone for 31-yard score, reestablishing the 21 point margin.

The Bucs’ would keep the scoreboard flashing after Bailey caught his second ball of the game to put his team up 35-8.

Josh Blanchard would continue to rub salt on the Stars wound after he caught another Brandon Leyh pass, his fifth of the game, leading to a halftime score of 42-8.

Hnatiuk would keep the Bucs’ pillaging in the third quarter after he scored his third touchdown of the game, putting the Bucs’ up 49-8 early in the quarter.

Blanchard would follow that up with 80 yard run after a shovel past, extending the debilitating lead to to the final score 56-8 Buccaneers.

Hnatiuk finished the game with three touchdowns and Leyh through seven of his own in a game to put the 4-1 Bucs’ into second place.

Hnatiuk credited the team’s success to team work.

“We have bonded pretty well. We all get along pretty good. As far as the game goes, we have great chemistry,” Hnatiuk said. “Today we showed we have a running attack too which will help us in the long run.”

Central Alberta will now travel to Grande Prairie next week.

Hnatiuk said they have their tilt with first place Fort McMurray marked down but they still have to come ready against Grande Prairie.

“That is who our eyes are on now,” he said.

todd.vaughan@reddeerexpress.com

Just Posted

UPDATED: Calgary Police receive multiple bomb threats

Similar threats received across Canada and the United States

Eckville Food Bank in “good shape” for the holidays

Heather Allen, FCSS director, says the food bank is in need of everyday items like soup crackers

PHOTOS: Sr. boys Aces fold to Panthers at home

The Aces lost their home opener 76-35 on Dec. 10 to the PAA Panthers

Eckville Elementary receives donation for classroom supplies

The Parent Council has donated $400 to each classroom at Eckville Elementary

Some types of cauliflower, lettuce recalled over E. coli fears

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced recall because of possible contamination.

Top of mind: ‘Justice’ is Merriam-Webster’s word of the year

Merriam-Webster has chosen “justice” as its 2018 word of the year, driven by the churning news cycle and President Trump’s Twitter feed.

‘Spider-Verse’ swings to the top; ‘Mortal Engines’ tanks

“Spider-Verse” has been very well-received among critics, and audiences in exit surveys gave it a rare A+ CinemaScore.

Canadians spent almost $64,000 on goods and services in 2017

Households in B.C. each spent $71,001 with housing costs contributing to higher average

Speaker at rally says Alberta oil ‘puts tofu on the table in Toronto!’

RCMP estimated more than 1,500 people attended the rally in Grande Prairie

White House closer to partial shutdown with wall demand

Without a resolution, parts of the federal government will shut down at midnight on Friday, Dec. 21

Trudeau lashes out at Conservatives over migration “misinformation”

Warning against the “dangers of populism,” Trudeau says using immigration as a wedge political issue puts Canada’s future at risk.

B.C. hockey coach creates ‘gear library’ to remove cost barrier of sport

Todd Hickling gathered donations and used gear to remove the cost barrier for kids to play hockey.

Canada’s ambassador meets with second detainee in China

Global Affairs says John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China, met with Spavor Sunday

Most Read