Published by Times & Transcript - July 31, 2017 -
The Moncton Mustangs have climbed back to the top of the mountain.
They're kings of Maritime football again.
The Mustangs captured the Maritime Football League crown on Saturday, turning back the rival Saint
John Wanderers 43-23 in the Maritime Bowl league final in Saint John.
The victory delivered Moncton's first MFL championship since 2010.
"We executed perfectly," said Mustangs head coach Jason Terris. "The players did a great job in
everything they needed to do."
Moncton took a 10-7 lead into halftime and then reeled off three straight touchdowns in the third quarter
to pull ahead 30-7. The visitors never looked back from there.
The loss snapped Saint John's 36-game winning streak.
The Mustangs also denied the Wanderers' bid for the most consecutive championships in league history
at five. Both teams have won four straight titles in their past - 2007 to 2010 for Moncton and 2013 to 2016
for Saint John.
"The big thing for us was to preserve our spot in the league history with our four-peat and end theirs
before they could turn it to five," Terris said.
"That means a lot to us and everyone involved in the whole Mustangs history."
Saint John entered the game as the favourite - finishing in first place with a 6-0 regular-season record and
handing second-place Moncton (4-2) its only two losses.
But the Mustangs felt good about their chances after pushing the Wanderers hard in a 28-24 loss in the
final week of the regular season.
Moncton got out to a 10-0 second-quarter lead on Saturday and then stepped up its game in the third
Three consecutive touchdowns - Steve Cormier running in for a score and then quarterback Dan Comfort
throwing TD passes to Akeem White and Cormier - put the Mustangs in front 30-7.
It was too much of a deficit for the Wanderers to overcome.
"Defensively, we knew we could outathlete them. We played straight up man to man coverage and our
defensive backs shut down their passing game. That allowed us to load up against their run. (Saint John
running back, Jon) Haines is such an incredible runner that it takes an overload of guys to shut him
down," Terris said.
"Offensively, we made some changes late in the year and we didn't install the rest of our offensive
package until early this week or late last week. We were really confident because we were so close in our
last game against them and we knew we had so much of our playbook that they had never seen. We
knew we had a fantastic chance of winning the game.
"We were the hardest working team in the league - in practice and outside of practice - and it paid off."
Comfort threw for 350 yards and three touchdowns for Moncton. Cormier, who played both ways, caught
one touchdown pass and also ran in for a score. He registered six tackles on defence at linebacker.
Matt Rose and Leslie Green each scored a touchdown and rookie Glodin Mulali had a pair of
interceptions, including returning one for a major, for the Mustangs.
Jon Golacki, Joel Seale and Haines replied with touchdowns for the Wanderers.
Several Moncton players - such as Cormier, D.J. Carmichael, Matt Cormier, Kevin Jones, Justin Terris and
Allain Bourque - are expected to retire after the win.
"I'm super proud of those guys," said Jason Terris. "They've left a huge legacy for future guys."
Five Mustangs players received MFL awards. They were Cormier (most outstanding defensive player),
Mulali (most outstanding rookie), Comfort (top quarterback), Aubrey Ellis (top running back) and Greg
Kinsman (top offensive lineman). Jason Terris was named the MFL coach of the year.
Six Mustangs players - Ellis at running back, Mulali at receiver, Alex Doyle and Kinsman at offensive line,
Scott LeBlanc at kicker and Cormier at linebacker - were picked MFL all-stars.