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Bulldogs and Blues battle for bragging rights

10/15/2016, 11:00am MDT
By Jeff Hansen - St. Albert Gazette

Battle of St. Albert in junior football kicks off Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Riel Recreation Park

The last junior game before the metro Edmonton football playoffs is the Battle of St. Albert on Tuesday.

Kickoff is 6 p.m. between the Bellerose Bulldogs and Paul Kane Blues at Riel Recreation Park.

Bellerose won the last four showdowns after losing the inaugural 2011 battle against Paul Kane and the 2015 result was 14-7.

In pool B, Bellerose is 4-0 and Paul Kane is tied with the Memorial Marauders at 3-1 and all three teams have qualified for the division one crossover playoffs with pool A.

The opening playoff round starts Oct. 24 and the top A and B pool teams have byes into the Oct. 31 semifinals at Johnny Bright Park. The final is Nov. 4 at 7:30 p.m. at Clark Park.

Bellerose, winner of the last four championships, is undefeated in 33 league and playoff games since losing the 2011 semifinal to the Bev Facey Falcons.

The last victory was the 54-50 score fest with Memorial this week in Spruce Grove.

Bellerose had surrendered only 10 points in its last three wins and 26 overall last year while going 6-0 before the defensive meltdown.

Bellerose is averaging an astonishing 53.5 points per game but will have to tighten up defensively against an explosive Paul Kane offence averaging 44.3 points.

Igniting the spark for Paul Kane is quarterback Russ Dixon as his 194 yards passing and one touchdown and 104 yards rushing and two TDs propelled the Blues past the St. Joseph Saints 48-20 this week in St. Albert.

In the process, Dixon raised his season totals to 429 yards on the ground and seven TDs and 801 yards in the air and eight TDs.

The bantam graduate of the West Edmonton Raiders and Team Alberta U16 selection for the 2017 International Bowl in January at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas galloped 48 and 34 yards for a pair of TDs in the first half against the Saints (1-3).

Paul Kane overcame a sluggish start of dropped balls, missed tackles and a slew of penalties to lead 21-13 at halftime.

Back-up running back Jamie Carswell, forced into action due to an injury to starter Matt Curtis, added a three-yard TD in the second quarter.

The Saints scored twice in the first half, including a 36-yard Hail Mary.

In the third quarter, Dixon found Ty Baird for a 76-yard pass and run TD and it was followed on the Saints’ next possession by Brenden Wagensveld’s 58-yard pick-six interception.

Carswell and fullback Rylan Baerg found the endzone in the fourth quarter in response to the Saints’ TD.

Carswell rattled off 75 of his 113 rushing yards in the last quarter to help run out the clock.

Defensive end Josh Dahunsi also recorded six tackles for losses as Paul Kane posted its first victory against the Saints in the junior ranks.

Meanwhile, Bellerose breathed a sigh of relief after surviving a huge scare against Memorial. Six turnovers, more than a handful of pass interference calls that kept drives going or moved the ball to the one-yard line and several penalties that cost Bellerose field position or negated significant yardage gains almost ended the 33-game winning streak.

Bellerose was also shorted a down on one offensive drive as the stick crew struggled to flip to the correct down and the Bulldogs were forced to punt in the third quarter leading 41-22. The snafu paved the way for a Memorial TD.

The Coles Notes game summary supplied by Bellerose is lengthy so the short version starts in the fourth quarter and Bellerose in front 41-28 after leading 21-6 after the first quarter and 35-22 at halftime.

Four plays into the quarter, Memorial scored and added the two-point conversion after Bellerose was flagged for pass interference on the first attempt at two points.

On the next defensive series, linebacker Darryl Marsh appeared to strip the receiver of the ball then scooped it up and ran into the endzone. However, the officials blew the play dead and ruled the play an incomplete pass.

The defence held but Bellerose fumbled the punt return. Memorial went on to score on a drive that was kept alive by another pass interference call. It was 42-41 Memorial after the two-point conversion was unsuccessful with 2:46 remaining.

After the kick-off, Bellerose marched the ball on first-down runs by Sheldon MacKay and Andrew Nielsen and the drive was capped off by MacKay’s 20-yard TD run with several tacklers draped all over him. Trey Lavoie’s convert put Bellerose back on top at 48-42.

Memorial returned the kick-off inside the Bellerose 30 and one play later the quarterback reached the endzone to knot it at 48. On the two-point conversion, the Memorial slotback went low to catch the ball and it appeared to hit the turf but it was ruled a catch to make it 50-48 with 1:15 remaining.

Back on offence, Bellerose huddled up at its 50 and four plays later Nielsen scrambled 30 yards on a designed quarterback run to score with 37 seconds left. The two-point attempt was unsuccessful as Jared Koziol was unable to hook-up with wideout Cory Hannam.

The defence closed out the wild affair by stopping Memorial on downs and the offence then took a knee on consecutive downs.

Nielsen and Koziol split quarterback/receiver and safety duties. Koziol started at quarterback and was picked off three times but connected with Nielsen on a highlight-reel 45-yard Odell Beckham Jr. style one-handed catch-and-run TD in the first quarter. Nielsen was able to extend the one arm up for the dazzling reception despite tight coverage and then proceeded to shake off a face-mask grab before crossing the goal line. Lavoie’s convert made it 21-0.

The first Bellerose defensive series of the game featured Liam Birch’s 75-yard fumble return for a TD

Tag(s): Jr. Bulldogs