Lightning 17 Cougars 12
The Notre Dame Cougars pushed the Hunting Hills Lightning to the limit in city high school football action Friday night.
After the Lightning scored on the second play from scrimmage, it was the Cougars who held strong the rest of the way and didn’t allow Hunting Hills into the endzone in the second half.
Ultimately, the Lightning bent but didn’t break with a 17-12 win and moved to 2-0 in Central Alberta Football League play, while the Cougars dropped to 0-2.
“I thought our start was way better than last week, we had emotion and I thought were really focused… We made a great play on the first two plays of offence and then we took the foot off the gas. They weren’t going to quit. If anything, that play fired them up more than it did us,” said Lightning head coach Kyle Sedgwick.
“We have to be able to rise to the occasion. Every year, every game, teams are going to give us everything they’ve got. I thought Notre Dame played real hard and that’s what we have to expect.”
Led by runningbacks Luke Lukalu and Josh Burke, the Cougars battled back all night long and trailing 17-12 with less than a minute to go, had a few chances to complete passes that would take them into the red zone. It didn’t happen, but coach Ian Rattan was proud of the effort from his group in the loss.
“I’m happy with our guys’ fight. We fought to the very end. We made a couple mistakes right off the hop, we spotted them six on the second play of the game, it is what it is. Our defence played very well and held us in the game,” he said.
“It’s a great game against them. It’s early in the season, they’re a great team… we had a chance right there at the end, that was awesome.”
On just their second play from scrimmage, the Lightning struck with a deep ball. Lucas Fuerbringer connected on a 45-yard pass to running back Joe Hunt to open the scoring.
After forcing the Cougars to punt on several possessions, the Lightning found paydirt again midway through the opening quarter.
They failed to punch it from the inside the five-yard line and then the Cougars went offside on third down and allowed Hunting Hills another chance to score. Fuerbringer made no mistake on the next opportunity and put his side up 14-0.
With their first sustained drive of the game, the Cougars got within a score early in the second quarter. Ethan Briault snuck in from the one, but the Cougars botched the extra point.
“That drive they scored on, we had multiple opportunities to tackle, we just didn’t finish the tackle, credit to them running hard. They put it in the endzone and we lost one of our linemen, that really shook our guys up,” Sedgwick said.
Another good drive late in the third quarter proved fruitful for the Cougars. Josh Burke scurried in from the five-yard line and got Notre Dame within striking distance. The Cougars were unable to tie the game with a two-point conversion.
With just under nine minutes to play in the fourth quarter, Hunting Hills had the Cougars pinned deep and forced a safety. They also added a single point on a missed field goal late in the contest.
In Lacombe, the Lindsay Thurber Raiders also moved to 2-0 with a 9-7 win over the Lacombe Rams. Mitchell Simmons had a touchdown for the Rams late but they could not complete the comeback.
With a bye week next week, onOct. 4, the Lighting play Holy Trinty in a non-conference game at Great Chief Park at 5 p.m.
League play will resume on Oct. 10, when the Raiders take on the Lightning and the Cougars battle the Rams.