Nationals victorious in
opener against Mustangs
By Dustin Pernitsky
The 2014 Midget Football League of Manitoba season kicked off Friday night. The Transcona Nationals beat the defending champion St. Vital Mustangs 35-14 under the lights at Archambault Field.
Running back Daniel Norris would open the game’s scoring, running through contact and reaching the end zone from 11 yards out. The touchdown run came just over five minutes into the first quarter, capping off a drive that started near mid-field. The Nationals would miss the convert, taking a 6-0 lead.
Norris led a group of three Nationals running backs who ran the ball very effectively Friday night.
“It’s kind of (running back) by committee... Norris is a third-year guy, same with Tyler Forest, so with Brandon Urciuoli coming up, he’s a young rookie, hopefully he can learn from those two,” said head coach Steve Hoel after the game.
Mustangs linebacker Derian Weimar gave his team the chance they needed to get right back in it, intercepting an Adam Gorzen pass inside the Nationals’ 20-yard line. Mustangs QB Joshua Jamieson led his team down to the two-yard line, where running back Dylan Condie would plunge it in. The Mustangs made the convert to take a 7-6 lead with 5:05 left in the first quarter.
The game featured two of the MFLM’s most electric players, Mustangs’ receiver Kai Madsen and Nationals’ receiver Jacob Robertson. Both players made plays in the second quarter.
The Mustangs extended their lead 3:14 into the second quarter on a 24-yard touchdown strike from Jamieson to wide receiver Kai Madsen. Madsen out-jumped two taller defensive backs, fought for the ball and came down in the end zone for the score, giving his club a 14-6 lead.
Those were the last points the Mustangs put on the board against the Nationals defense.
Gorzen wouldn’t waste much time bringing the Nationals back. He led his team down the field hitting wide receiver Phillip Gut on three straight throws, bringing Transcona to the 16-yard line. It looked like the Mustangs had a stop when Robertson dropped a first down pass on second and five. Nationals head coach Steve Hoel decided to go for it however, and Robertson would make up for the drop, hauling in a 16-yard touchdown pass from Gorzen to make it 14-13.
Hoel will be looking to Robertson to be a leader this year.
“Jake is a hardcore player, he’ll do anything you ask him to. Any time, any place on the field. I expect Jake to do great things this year... there’s a reason he’s a captain.”
The Nationals would tie the game at 14 with just under 3 minutes left in the first half after kicker Keenan Onyebuchi missed a 12-yard field goal attempt that led to a rouge. Onyebuchi also missed a 39-yard field goal that went off the uprights in the second half.
The Nationals took the lead for good early in the second half. After Transcona recovered a Mustangs fumble, Gorzen found Robertson on a fade route from 24 yards out to make it 21-14 with 12:51 left in the third quarter.
Rookie running back Urciuoli added to the lead with his first touchdown in the MFLM, finishing off a drive with a two-yard run to the end zone. Gorzen would also add a short touchdown run of his own to push the lead to 35-14.
Despite the loss, Mustangs head coach Craig Bachynski saw some positives looking forward.
“We experienced many, many injuries,” Bachynski said after the game. “We were probably playing the best team in the league, the biggest team for sure... I think (the Mustangs) held their own. One game does not make a season for us.”
The coach went on to add that he was looking forward to having some injured players back in the lineup next week.
In other MFLM action over the weekend, the North Winnipeg Nomads defeated the Greendell Falcons by a score of 18-14 and the Interlake Thunder spoiled the regular season debut of the Southwest Wolves in a hard fought matchup by a score of 27-16.
Week two action has the Mustangs traveling to North Winnipeg to take on the rival Nomads on Saturday night, while the Nationals will host the Interlake Thunder Friday night.