In a battle of two undefeated teams, it was the Hunting Hills Lightning who blinked first.
With under a minute to play and the game tied at 14-14, Lindsay Thurber Raiders quarterback Joel Collings connected on an absolute strike to Cody Anglo. Anglo rumbled 56 yards to paydirt and the Raiders completed an epic 21-14 victory over the number three ranked Tier II school in the Football Alberta rankings.
The near-capacity crowd at Setters Place was loud throughout the contest and chants of “Raiders” echoed all night and continued as the clock struck zero and Lindsay Thurber secured the victory.
Raiders coach Devon Hand, a long-time member of the coaching staff, but in his first season as head coach for the program said they’ve been knocking at the door against the Lightning for a number of years. He said it was great to finally be able to bust through Thursday.
“It’s tough because you don’t want to make too big a deal of it because we have playoffs and Hunting is very, very good team. But for our program and where we’re at it’s pretty cool. We’re happy there,” Hand said.
“In years past, when we’ve had competitive games, we’ve kind of folded on ourselves. This is the first time in a long time where we’ve banded together and we were able to maintain our composure through adversity. That’s really what it was, we were better glued together this time.”
The win pushed the Raiders to 3-0 in Central Alberta High School Football League city play and dropped the Lightning to 2-1. Lindsay Thurber will be the first seed when the playoffs get underway later this month.
Early in the game, it was Hunting Hills who struck first. After a 40-yard deep pass to Logan Kendze, the Lightning converted just a few plays later. Lucas Fuerbringer hit Joel DeMale on a 12-yard touchdown to open the scoring.
Both teams had trouble holding on to the ball in the opening half, but it was the Raiders who finally took advantage. Joe Hunt fumbled and the Raiders recovered deep in their own territory with five minutes to play in the half.
The Raiders drove methodically down the field and Will Moir finally got his side on the board with a 12-yard touchdown score with under three to play in the second quarter. Moir was huge all game long, mixing in runs and hauling in passes throughout the victory.
Early in the third, on a scramble play, Collings made some magic happen. On a low snap, he picked the ball up and scrambled out of the pocket before launching a pass deep into the back off the endzone to Braeden Bohemier who collected the six-yard touchdown.
The Lightning wouldn’t go away, charging into the endzone early in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 14. Fuerbringer hit Zac Sanderson for a 10-yard touchdown to tie the game.
From there, Collings summoned some heroics on the pass to Anglo with time winding down.
“We were so focused on a couple of their players, they caught us with another guy down the seam. That’s what happens,” said Lightning head coach Kyle Sedgwick.
Overall, the Lightning coach wasn’t satisfied with the play of his group and knows they need to bring a better effort when playoffs come around.
“We didn’t play well. They played real hard. Just like Notre Dame did, just like Lacombe did. We’re too friendly. It’s just challenging when a team out-physicals you and outworks you. That’s kind of what happened,” added Sedgwick.
Central Alberta High School Football League city playoffs get underway Oct. 25 and conclude on Oct. 26.