SUMMERSIDE – The Summerside Cooke Insurance Clippers didn’t expect it to be easy, and the Cornwall Timberwolves made sure it wasn’t.
But the Clippers answered the challenge, earning a 30-15 victory on Saturday afternoon, and the right to hoist the Potato Bowl for the fourth consecutive year. The championship game of the P.E.I. Varsity Tackle Football League was played at Eric Johnston Field.
“We expected a hard game, and it was,” said Clippers running back Michael Friesen, who was named the offensive player of the game. “Everybody did their job well, and we came out strong.”
The win capped a perfect season for the Clippers, who went 8-0 (won-lost) in the regular season and playoffs.
“It’s getting more difficult every year, which is great,” said Clippers head coach John Turner. “It’s great that the teams are getting closer and closer, and then you have a great game like this (Saturday). It’s a shame it was pouring rain, because it was one heck of a game for the fans to watch.”
“The rain made it really hard to run the ball because it was slippery,” added Friesen. “There were lots of fumbles, and it would have been easier without the rain.”
The Clippers built a 16-0 lead at halftime on the strength of a rushing touchdown by Ethan Haakman while quarterback Nic Gunning connected with Kyle Cameron for a major score on a passing play.
Caleb Dawson, who kicked both converts, also counted a pair of first-half rouges – single points awarded when the ball is legally kicked into the end zone.
“We knew Summerside was going to come out and run hard, play hard,” said Timberwolves head coach Mark Green. “We came out a little flat, and had a few little hiccups in the first half that cost us.
“I’m proud of the guys, they rallied back together, scored two quick touchdowns, but it came down to Summerside executed a little bit better than we did.”
Despite holding a seemingly comfortable lead, Turner and his coaching staff stressed to the Clippers at halftime that the game was far from over.
“It was key to get out to the lead and have some momentum, but in the game of football it can turn in a hurry,” acknowledged Turner.
Quarterback Hunter Prus found Dominic Green in the end zone late in the fourth quarter to get Cornwall on the board, and the two-point conversion attempt was successful. The Timberwolves attempted an on-side kick, and were awarded the ball due to a Summerside penalty.
A long run by Tyler Newson got the Timberwolves in the red zone, and Parker Williams pounded it in from the three-yard line. Newson then kicked the extra point to make it 17-15 with 6:50 remaining.
Haakman raced down the left side to score a touchdown and regain momentum for the Clippers, but the failed extra point meant it was still a one-possession game – 23-15. The Clippers’ defence, as it did all season long, came up big in the final five minutes, and Friesen scored a rushing touchdown with 1:37 remaining. Dawson’s convert closed out the scoring.
“That’s how a championship game should be,” said Turner. “Two great teams, and it was a fourth-quarter game.
“Hats off to Mark and Richard (Lush) for keeping their team focused. They were down 17 points and didn’t quit, made it real close. . . In November football, you have to be able to run the ball and play defence. I think we only threw it maybe three times in the game.
“The recipe for success was ground and pound, play good D and no turnovers.”