The Lacombe Rams came into their game against the Hunting Hills Lightning looking to get a game back in the standings in order to help ensure a home playoff game two weeks from now at MEGlobal Athletic Park.
To do so, they not only would have to battle an impressive Lightning defence, but also winds that were gusting up to 90 km per hour.
Lightning Coach Kyle Sedgwick said that the wind played a factor in a game they would go on to win 14-3.
“Lacombe played physical and they are a hell of a lot better than they were earlier this season. They have a lot of guys that were there last playing us in the final,” he said.
The first half would see plenty of chances for the Rams to break through, with Hunting Hills committing three turnovers in the first half. Unfortunately, Lacombe would only manage a 40-yard field goal by Simon Gray.
The Lightning, on the other side of the ball, broke free on their first offensive drive of the game when quarterback Haiden Brown connected with Logan Kendze for a 36-yard score, leading to a 7-3 Lighting score at half time.
“Our first touchdown, we were throwing right into the teeth of it and it worked out. Sometimes you have to take those chances,” Sedgwick said.
Another Lightning turnover and a short punt led to the Rams having three quality chances in the redzone, but they would be unable to pull ahead after missing two field goals — one of which hit the goal post.
Lacombe Coach Brian Ross said it would be nice to see more consistency offensively but feels his team is progressing.
“We are getting better and taking baby steps,” he said, adding his team’s defence is right up there with the best in the league.
“We aren’t giving them (the defence) breaks because we aren’t sustaining a lot of drives.”
The Lighting would follow that up with another touchdown when Brown called his own number and ran the necessary yard, putting Hunting Hills up 14-3 with 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
The Rams would face more adversity early in the fourth quarter when Skylar Allarie took a hard hit in the mid-section that required local EMS to be called — causing the game to be delayed for several minutes.
“We think it is his ribs. It doesn’t seem like much but damaged ribs are one of the most painful things on the planet,” Ross said.
Following the extended delay, the Lightning would close out the game — going on to win 14-3 in a game that was closer than the score suggested.
Both teams now head into the bye week, with semi-finals coming in two weeks with Lacombe likely facing Lindsay Thurber and Hunting Hills likely playing Notre Dame.
Sedgwick said the bye week will be important.
“We have to get healthy for the play-offs. What is good is that we have had a lot of guys the last two weeks step up and get some good experience,” he said.