Friday Football Results
It went down to the final minute in the first night game ever hosted in Northwestern Ontario.
A large crowd surrounded Harry McMaster Field in Dryden Friday night to watch the Fort Frances Muskies battle the Dryden Eagles underneath the lights. Very few left early and they were treated to a back and forth clash that ultimately was sealed with an interception of a Dryden pass on the Muskie goal line with 42 seconds remaining. The fans also saw a highly entertaining half time game between members of the Grade 7 and 8 Dryden Minor Football League Falcons.
The visitors came out quickly and carried the tempo early, taking a 6-0 lead in the first quarter. In the second Dryden found some offence and took the lead on an 11 yard TD run by Jesse Gerula which was converted by Ben Arsenault. After scoring a single to tie the game, Fort Frances capitalized on a few Dryden mistakes late in the half and took a 14-7 lead with under a minute to play on a short TD plunge.
The third quarter saw a more determined and physical Dryden team and they moved the ball well on the ground with solid line play and dogged running by Jeremy Euler and Ryan Martel. Dryden closed the gap to 14-10 with a 20 yard Arsenault field goal early. With momentum on their side Dryden went ahead when Adam Saunders cut back through the middle and scored from 5 yards out after another sustained drive. The defence then worked to hold up the 17-14 margin, Caine Benham leading the way with 12 tackles and Tanner Russell intercepting his 3rd pass of the season. Fort Frances ran a well executed fake punt for 32 yards with just over 5 minutes to play and kept their drive going. 2 minutes later they once again jumped ahead, scoring a rushing TD.
The Eagles had to drive 75 yards for a major with under 3 minutes to play and, for a while, it looked like they just might. Adam Saunders completed a halfback pass to Brendan Bartlett for 25 yards and Martel and Euler moved the ball on the ground to where Dryden was first and goal from the Muskie 10 with a minute and 25 seconds remaining. After an incomplete pass, Martel attempted to scramble for the goalline and looked like he might score before the last Fort defender made a great effort to trip him up on the 6. After taking a timeout Dryden ran one last play but the pass coverage was good and, needing to try, Martel heaved a toss to the goal line under pressure and had it picked off.
Despite the score, the coaches were pleased with the support from fans from both towns and felt that it was a great night for football in the area. Very impressive were the donations and efforts from the community to make the game happen. Football, and sport in general, brings out the character in people and the players from both sides both competed fiercely and left respecting one another.
Dryden closes out its regular season on Wednesday Oct 19th in Winnipeg against the St. Norbert Celtics in a tune up for the quarterfinals the following week. With not much impact on the seeding likely, the Eagles coaches will be looking to use the game to try new things and experiment with different lineup combinations.