RECAP: Turnovers & opportunities give CFC#39 Phoenix Turkey Bowl victory over Flames (VIDEO)

CFC#39 Citadel Phoenix took care of business this past Thanksgiving weekend.

In front of a packed house at Saint Mary’s Huskies Stadium, Simon Richardson completed 16 passes in 27 attempts for 208 yards, four passing touchdowns and three interceptions as the Phoenix defeated defending Provincial Tier 1 Champions Sir John A MacDonald Flames 28-17.

Citadel - Gregory MacDonald

Greg MacDonald scored two touchdowns and racked up 75 yards on five receptions for the Phoenix.  Matthew Lawen and Connor Gascoigne each tallied a major in the victory.  Ian Farrell amassed 121 yards on six receptions while Tyler Martin rushed for 103 yards on 23 carries.

On defense, five different players each caught an interception – Gascoigne, AJ Case, Nate Adams, Jonah Williams and Geoff Hebb.

With this victory, the Phoenix remains undefeated with a 5-0 record this season.  As for the Flames, the team slides to a 3-2 record.

Citadel - Nate Adams

While it wasn’t easy, the Phoenix will take this victory.  However, this game exposed a few weaknesses the team must improve upon as the road to the playoffs inches closer.

“That was as tough as we expected it to be,” commented Phoenix Offensive Coordinator Jon Dyer after the win.  “Sir John A has a great team and was well coached.”

“It’s another game where we came out slow and found ourselves in a hole. Thankfully, our defense kept getting some key turnovers and gave our offense plenty of opportunities.   Our offense stayed patient and made some key plays down the stretch to take the lead and seal the game. But we won’t go very far in the playoffs if we have to come from behind every game.”

Citadel - Matthew Lawen


One area of concern for the Phoenix is the number of turnovers they coughed up in the game.  The team wants to minimize that down the stretch.  On offense, Dyer was impressed with how Richardson handled the pressure of the Flames defense throughout the game.

“All five of our starting defensive backs caught an interception,” added the Phoenix Offensive Coordinator.  “SJA made some explosive plays but overall they were excellent in coverage.”

“Our quarterback play struggled with some balls that got away from him in the second half but to be able to keep his composure and throw a touchdown pass to win is impressive. We have to better on offense and protect the football because five turnovers won’t win you very many games.”

Overall, the Phoenix is savouring the victory while reflecting on this experience and the lessons learned.

“This was a good experience for our team,” said Dyer.  “It’s been twice now where we have found ourselves in a hole and we’ve managed to battle back and come away with a few critical wins.”

“Those are great learning experiences and we should be battle tested for the playoffs.  Sir John A are a tough football team and will be serious contenders in the playoffs. It was a great game for the Turkey Bowl and we’re happy we left with a win.”

On the other side, Flames Head Coach Steve Majury summed up the sentiments of the Flames after being on the losing end of this battle.

“It was a game we gave away,” expressed the Flames Head Coach.

While the Flames enjoyed a 10-7 lead at halftime, it evaporated in the fourth quarter when a couple of key plays dictated how this game would finish. However, Majury was proud of how the team performed against the Phoenix.

“Our defence played fantastic football for the vast majority of this game,” assessed Majury.  “They were inspired and motivated playing physical, intelligent football and were the main reason we were winning late in the fourth quarter.”

“I thought our defence was dominant. Unfortunately, we had two key mental lapses where we gave up two long pass plays one on a hook and lateral in the first half and the go ahead touchdown on a PA pass late in the fourth quarter while we were protecting the lead really hurt. I’m very proud of the heart and soul our defence put into this game. They are a force to be reckoned with and deserved a better result as they forced key turnovers all game.  It was a tremendous defensive effort with notable performances from our excellent linebacker core of:  Jack Chiasson, Liam Brennan and Nick Bennett.  Our defensive line has made huge strides on our edge play led by Robie Holland, Josh DeGruchy, Connor Gavin and Anderson Recker.  I also felt that Liam Cook played a strong positional game with some big plays in our secondary and we really received excellent run support from our rookie halfbacks Josh Pinfold and Zac Dalloul who are both coming on strong for us at the right time.”

Sir John A - Thomas Hoyt

Additionally, Majury assessed how the Flames Special Teams unit performed on Sunday.

“Our special teams played very well for the bulk of this game,” evaluated the Flames Head Coach. “Our return game was excellent led by senior Thomas Hoyt and rookie Zac Dalloul as we had tremendous blocking upfront and we caught the ball on the run and made strong decisions.”

“Our coverage teams were strong all day.  Brock Saumure boomed some big punts and kicked a field goal.  However, mistakes came back to haunt us as we missed a short field goal off the upright from a tough angle which would have extended our lead.  We had a short punt late with some sloppy coverage which gave Citadel good field position in our end, which hurt us as well.”

One area of concern for the Flames was offense.  Majury gave credit to the Phoenix defensive unit for being able to contain the Flames attack.

“Offensively, we struggled against Citadel’s defence tremendously,” commented Majury.  “We felt like we had a strong game plan going in and after reviewing the game film it was simply a matter of their defence beating us in our assignments consistently.”

“We were unable to match their speed and most concerning for us we didn’t match their intensity. Yet, we had multiple opportunities to put the game away in the second half and we failed to execute on wide open pass plays.  Our quarterback Seth Lane was a warrior for us, as he was under pressure all game and he kept playing his heart out.  Thomas Hoyt was absolutely brilliant for us; big players step up in big games and Thomas was outstanding!  Josh DeGruchy was a strong presence for us on offence and is becoming a force and rookie running back Adam Bennett played with his high effort and energy all game.”

Not only was offense a problem but so was discipline for the Flames.

“We also took far too many penalties which zapped a lot of our momentum by times putting us in first or second and long situations where Citadel’s defence feasted on us,” assessed Majury.  “It was a very frustrating day for our offence and I give Citadel’s defence full credit for their victory as they simply applied pressure against us every snap and we struggled in handling it.”

“We must find a way to get our offence going consistently in big games if we are going to have any future success.”

With a 3-2 record and home field advantage in the playoffs far from reach, the defending Provincial Champions focus has shifted on improving on all aspects of their play as well as overcome adversity for the bulk of the season and playoff stretch. Overall, Majury is confident in the team’s abilities.

“It’s gut check time for our football team, and I think our kids will respond with a fighter’s mentality accepting the challenges that lay ahead for us,” expressed the Flames Head Coach.  “We have a lot of high character young men in our locker room who have a great deal of pride in being SJA Flames, so I expect our best football is yet to come.”

Meanwhile, the Phoenix has already begun working on shortening the list of areas for improvement as there is not a lot of time to waste with the Tier 1 playoffs inching closer.

“The list is long but we have two games left in the regular season to figure it out,” explained Dyer.  “We try and get better each week but we took a step back on the weekend in some areas.”

“Whoever we play in the playoffs will undoubtedly be a much better version than what we’ve faced so we need keep improving.”


Photo credits:  Mona Ghiz, Ghiz Photography (


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