AFL: Timely interception leads Hurricanes past Tigers

Sunday, September 20, 2015 – Charlottetown, PE – The defence delivered as advertised as a third quarter pick six by defensive lineman Josh Palmer helped pace the Holland College Hurricanes Football Club to a 19-11 win over the Dalhousie University Tigers.

An unblocked Palmer forced the interception from a scrambling Nick Hunsley who promptly turned the ball over.

“I was in the right place at the right time, so I decided to make a play on the ball and I was just happy to score,” said Palmer, who finished the night with 1.5 sacks and an interception.

With the victory, the Hurricanes (1-0) extend their undefeated streak to 12 games, dating back to Oct. 20, 2013, when they matched Dalhousie (0-1) to an 18-all draw.

The win also marks a milestone for head coach Kyle Quinlan, who recorded his first Atlantic Football League win as a head coach.

“Knowing everyone makes the playoffs in this league, it’s more of how you finish, so the goal leading up to this thing has been to get off to a good start and really honour what the guys before us have done. It’s nice to start this way, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

The Hurricanes’ defence wasted little time and opened the scoring in the first quarter when the Tigers conceded a safety. Despite an ensuing interception deep within their own territory, the Hurricanes’ defence came up strong and held off the Tigers’ threat, allowing just a field goal to trail 3-2 going into the second quarter.

Midway through the second, receiver Kyle Scott returned a punt 40 yards, giving the Hurricanes favourable field position. The Hurricanes capitalized on the opportunity when starting quarterback Anton Sianchuk took the ball the rest of the way for a 20-yard keeper, leading his squad to the 9-4 advantage at halftime.

Dalhousie responded quickly coming out of the break. After a Zach Leger 30-yard run, coupled with a few Holland College penalties, Hunsley connected with Alex Bayne in the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown to reclaim the lead, 11-9.

But that’s all the Tigers could muster off a stingy Hurricanes’ defence that forced three turnovers on the day – two interceptions and a late game fumble. A Jay Dearborn field goal capped off a successful drive that included a Jeff Hillier 24-yard reception and a Carson Halliwell 30-yard run, giving the Hurricanes a 12-11 lead. The Tigers couldn’t recover and surrendered the Palmer interception to extend the Hurricanes’ lead 19-11, ending any threat of a comeback.

“It’s (the defence) a tough scheme and I truly think John Thomson is just a brilliant, brilliant defensive mind. He’s got the guys prepared and he’s got the right athletes in there, and as a head coach it’s really fun to watch,” Quinlan said.

While the Hurricanes struggled to generate yards through the air, their ground game caused headaches for the opposing defence. Leading the way was Halliwell, who gathered yards in bunches, recording seven rushes of at least 10-plus yards.

“With this offensive line, I can get as many yards as I want, but they make it easy for me and when they open up holes like that all I have to do is hit it,” Halliwell said. “I’m nothing without them, so I have to give them all the credit.”

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