The Red Deer Buccaneers came bearing gifts on Saturday, turning the ball over with regularity en route to a 23-13 Alberta Football League loss to the host Grande Prairie Drillers.
The Bucs committed a whopping five turnovers, three of which led directly to 17 Grande Prairie points.
The visitors led 6-3 at halftime on a pair of Jay Pike field goals of 15 and 22 yards, and watched their lead dwindle to one point when they conceded a safety touch early in the third quarter.
From there, Buccaneers quarterback Josh Achtemichuk threw an interception that the Drillers turned into a touchdown on their ensuing offensive series, but then led his team down the field and handed off to Ian Keetch who ran five yards for a major.
Keetch, however fumbled the ball away inside his own zone and the hosts capitalized with a touchdown to take a 20-13 lead late in the third stanza. The Drillers rounded out the scoring with a fourth-quarter field goal that followed a second Achtemichuk interception.
Achtemichuk completed 10 of 22 passes for 149 yards, while Keetch carried 12 times for 105 yards. Running back Kenton Poelzer had 13 carries for 42 yards and fumbled once, and also hauled in two passes for 44 yards.
Red Deer wide receiver Adam Donovan had three catches for 36 yards.
Defensively, lineman Matt Vandale had a monster game with three solo and three assisted tackles, with one tackle for a loss as well as a half sack (shared with Murray Green) and a fumble recovery. Vandale also played on the offensive line and the special teams.
Defensive back Jeremy Makila made two solo and two assisted tackles and also returned an interception 61 yards.
The Bucs return to action on July 11 at 6 p.m. versus the Calgary Wolfpack at Great Chief Park.
The team will stage a fund-raiser on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Shark’s Garage Sports Pub in the Red Deer Lodge.