Gators 26 Buccaneers 13
Physically, the Red Deer Buccaneers were ready to roll Saturday night at Great Chief Park.
Mentally . . . well, that’s a different story.
The Bucs took dead aim at their own feet and pulled the trigger far too often while dropping a 26-13 Alberta Football League decision to the previously winless Calgary Gators.
The host squad erred early and often, extending four Calgary drives — one of which led to a touchdown — with second-down penalties and also committing a series of offensive penalties.
“You can’t run six plays in the third quarter of a tight football game, two of which end up as turnovers, and expect to win that game,” said Buccaneers co-head coach Kyle Sedgwick.
The Gators came into the game with an 0-2 slate and left with the same record as the Buccaneers now possess.
“They’re an athletic team and they hang around,” said Sedgwick. “This game was a playoff game. This is a team that we have to beat if we want to make the playoffs. They (Gators) were treating it like a playoff game and they wanted it more. It goes back to the old thing we’ve been stressing with these guys, and that’s finish and learning how to win.”
The Bucs led 10-3 after one quarter on a touchdown from Adam Donovan — on a 13-yard reverse — and a field goal and extra point from Tylor Johnson. But after getting a second-quarter field goal from Johnson, the hosts were blanked the rest of the way.
“They (Gators) only got six points on us in the second half, but offensively we left our defence out to dry a bit,” said Sedgwick. “We got shut out in the second half for the second time in three games this season. That’s the difference between winning and losing.”
Sedgwick was not at all disappointed with his club’s work ethic, just the manner in which they went about their business.
“We didn’t pack it in. This was a negative game, but I told (the players) to keep their heads up because the effort was there. We just made so many mistakes and we have to work on improving our football IQ.
“Guys have to understand things a little better, because that’s the difference out there. When you’re making mental mistakes you’re just not thinking the game enough and right now it’s tough for the guys who maybe haven’t played much football. That takes some time to develop, but if we continue with that kind of effort we’ll be all right.”
Bucs quarterback Josh Achtemichuk completed 13 of 28 passes for 137 yards. He also threw a trio of interceptions.
Red Deer was without injured star running back Kenton Poelzer for a consecutive game. With Ian Keetch also missing due to work commitments, the coaching staff used receiver Jamie Blinkhorn in the backfield.
Blinkhorn rushed for 43 yards on nine carries. Josh Sorensen was the Bucs’ top receiver with four receptions for 43 yards, while Donovan caught two balls for 42 yards.
“We had guys playing positions where they haven’t even repped at. You can’t continue to do that because it will catch up to you, and it definitely did today,” said Sedgwick.
The Bucs return to action July 10 against the visiting Calgary Wolfpack and Sedgwick is hoping that Poelzer, who suffered a hamstring injury in the season opener, will be back in uniform.
Wide receiver Mike Wasylyniuk scored two touchdowns for the Gators, including one on a 75-yard pass and run play with quarterback Dan Strikaitis.