The Bonnyville Voyageurs edged the Cold Lake Royals 14-13 on Thursday night overcoming eight turnovers in the process.
Quarterback Justyn Davidson threw two interceptions, while a number of Voyageurs contributed to six fumbles in a sloppy affair with the Royals.
Bonnyville wasn’t alone in their turnover bonanza as the Royals fumbled twice and quarterback Braeden Wicht was picked off four times.
“You don’t want to see that many turnovers and that many mistakes, but in the end we won,” said Larry Godziuk, head coach of the Voyageurs.
“It wasn’t as planned. The boys just found a way to win and it was exciting.”
Turnovers were the story of this game right from the start.
The Voyageurs fumbled the ball on the second play of the game giving the Royals possession at mid-field.
After the Royals were unable to gain any ground they punted the ball back to the Voyageurs.
Bonnyville’s receiver fumbled the punt in his own endzone leading to a Royals recovery for a touchdown.
Three minutes later the Voyaguers defence helped them get on the board.
Aaron Goulet picked off Wicht and took the ball down to the Royals 35-yard line.
Several plays later Davidson was able to lob a nice pass up into the right corner of the endzone into the outstretched arms of Goulet.
The touchdown pass was the first play of the second quarter and evened the score at 7-7.
The rivals continued to throw errant passes, drop balls, and make ill-advised pitches leading to an awful series of plays late in the first half.
With 2:49 remaining in the opening half Voyageurs Evan Poole fumbled the ball at mid-field. The first play of the Royals ensuing possession saw Bonnyville’s Zachary Hesson intercept Wicht’s pass. The Voyageurs took the ball back and saw their next passing play result in an interception.
Bonnyville ended the half with six turnovers, while the Royals finished with three. The score was deadlocked at 7-7.
The Voyaguers first chance to jump out to a lead came in the final minutes of the third quarter. With the ball down inside the 20-yard line Bonnyville decided to go for a field goal only to see the ball sail wide right.
Voyaguers Isaac Amalia, who was a one-man wrecking crew, shut down Cold Lake’s offence. The Grade 12 player got to the quarterback on three straight plays for back-to-back-to-back sacks.
“He is quite a player. He is a Grade 12. That is the year they are supposed to shine and he sure did,” said Godziuk.
The ensuing drive saw Bonnyville march down the field and punch in a short touchdown. Davidson kept the ball and ran through the blocks for a four yard score.
With 5:16 left in the game the Voyageurs lead 14-7.
“Our o-line was blocking great tonight, keeping the pocket open, making running lanes…our defence played amazing,” said Davidson.
Three minutes later, after a series of penalties on the Bonnyville defence, the Royals found themselves in a position to score.
A 20-yard run by Wicht set Cold Lake up at the 32-yard line. Wicht then connected on a 32-yard bomb to Eljaji Youssef for a touchdown with 2:07 remaining.
Afterwards the Royals turned heads by electing to attempt a two-point convert for the win rather than kick the one point for a tie.
Bonnyville’s Matthew Nahirniak knocked down a pass to Anthony Francis to foil to two-point attempt.
After a quick Voyageurs possession the Royals got the ball back at their own 30-yard line with just 1:08 left on the clock.
Wicht led the drive down the field finding Francis for a huge 30-yard gain.
A holding call took the Royals down to the 27-yard line with 34 seconds left.
Cameron Zelisko sacked the quarterback taking more time off the clock.
With 14 seconds remaining and the Voyageurs up by one Nahirniak jumped a receiver’s route and intercepted Wicht to seal the victory for the home side.
“Nahirniak had a rough game in Lloydminster last weekend. He came back and had such a huge effort tonight,” said Godziuk. “(Francis) is their go-to-guy and he covered him well for most of the game.”
The Voyageurs, who finish the regular season 3-3, will travel to Lloydminster next week to face Lloydminster Composite.
Lloydminster defeated the Voyageurs 34-0 during the regular season.
Walsh Field will be packed again on Oct. 17 when the Renegades and Bandits are both back at home. The two teams will be joining forces and collecting non-perishable food items to donate to the local food bank.