Chargers defenders Hudson Conacher, #66, Graff Tiedemann, #18, and Justin Purdy, #33, team up to bring down Bandits running back Kelton McAuley. JAMIE HARKINS LLS PHOTO
The Lloydminster bantam Chargers showcased their ability to bounce back, but a few early-season mistakes denied the club an opening-game win.
The Chargers fell 26-14 to the Bonnyville Bandits before a boisterous crowd of home and away supporters at St. Mary’s Elementary School on Saturday.
The Bandits built up a 14-6 lead against the Chargers by halftime, gave up the tying score early in the fourth quarter, and used a strong run up the sideline on their next possession to regain the advantage.
“What we reviewed at halftime was quit taking undisciplined penalties and limit the big plays,” said Chargers head coach Ian Hundeby.
“We didn’t do that today. We didn’t wrap up tackling, and ultimately that is what beat us.”
The Bandits drew first blood when quarterback Duncan Critch ran the ball into the end zone twice for the major and convert about three minutes into the opening quarter for an 8-0 lead.
The Chargers responded right back only to have their drive stopped deep in the opposition zone.
“My O line, we did phenomenal today,” said Bandits centre Brendan Smith. “We play as a team, we practise as a team, and we’re a family. We just play as a family.”
Critch made the score 14-0 early in the second quarter by fighting through numerous tackles during a 56-yard run for a touchdown.
Chargers quarterback Anders Hundeby used a 10-play drive on the team’s following possession to march the offence to the Bandits two-yard line, before running back Carter Illerbrun punched the ball over the goal line.
The Chargers seemed to come close to tying the match a little over a minute into the third quarter on a long run to the end zone by Daven Falcon, only to have the major called back due to an illegal block.
Charger Graff Tiedemann made up for the mistake with a pick-six about 14 minutes later, with Illerbrun running the ball in for the conversion and 14-14 score.
Bandits running back Kelton McAuley replied right back with an 86-yard run for the touchdown and 20-14 lead.
Critch made the score 26-14 late in the fourth quarter on a drive through the line of scrimmage from the Chargers three-yard line.
“These were one of our hardest contenders that we were going to play, so it was a very rough game,” said Smith. “But, we lived through it, and we took the win.”
Hundeby said the Chargers will be back in action against the cross-town rival Mustangs this Saturday as part of the Rod Kirby Football Day festivities at the Raider Bowl.
He said they’re going to put in a hard week of practice with a focus on staying disciplined to get ready.
“We’re going to be improved and a better football team than what we were today,” said Hundeby.
“Take nothing away from Bonnyville, they’re a great team with some really talented kids, but this is on the big stage under the lights and we’ll be ready to go.”