Chris (Tex) Mutch hooked up with Allister Nicholson for a touchdown as the Island Mariners scored 29 unanswered points to defeat the Southern New Brunswick Ducks 43-13 to open the Maritime Football League regular season.
The second quarter drive came after the host Ducks had cut the lead to 14-13 but missed the extra point Saturday in Quispamsis, N.B. The Mariners responded with a 40-yard bomb from Mutch to Nicholson and a 15-yard run by Dillon Fortune. Then Nicholson beat the defensive back off the snap and Mutch found him for the major.
After the Ducks punted and the Mariners turned the ball over on downs, Diangelo Woodside forced a fumble and Mitchell Osmond recovered it for the visitors.
Mutch found first-year wide receiver Omzie Fortune for the score to make it 28-13 heading to the fourth quarter.
Richard Lush blocked the Ducks field-goal attempt on the next drive to set up Dillon Fortune’s rushing touchdown. Paul Amba capped off the scoring with a rushing TD.
The Mariners defence played a critical role in the victory with about eight sacks and multiple turnovers. And it started early.
Lush forced a fumble on the Ducks’ first play from scrimmage with Brennan Davis recovering the ball for the Mariners on the Ducks’ 15-yard line.
Dillon Fortune leaped into the end zone for the first score of the season.
The offence wasn’t on the sidelines long after the play.
Cornerback Dennis Brown picked off a pass and returned it 25 yards, but a mishandled handoff by the Mariners gave the host squad the ball back.
Consistent tackling by Shayne Nelson, Diangelo Woodside, Rupie Stubbs and Osmond forced a punt and the offence went back to work.
Wide receivers Omzie Fortune and Jayden Reid had a few completions and Dillon Fortune’s 40-yard run put the Mariners in scoring position. Mutch called his own number on a fourth-and-goal and hit pay dirt, following a hole created by centre Justin Chandler to make it 14-0.
The Ducks took the ensuing kickoff all the way back for a major to cut the lead in half. On the home side’s next possession, the quarterback called his own number multiple times in a drive that led to another score to cut the deficit to 14-13. But that’s as close as the Ducks would get.
Brennan Davis converted five of his six extra point kicks for the Mariners.
The Island squad travels to Cole Harbour, N.S., Saturday to play the Nova Scotia Buccaneers (0-1) at 4 p.m. Their home opener is Saturday, May 18, when they host the Saint John Wanderers at 4 p.m. at the Terry Fox Sports Complex in Cornwall. The six-team league plays a six-week schedule with the top four teams playing in the semifinals on Saturday, June 15. The championship game is Saturday, June 22.