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The streak ends at 44 - Citadel's first loss since 2008

The Citadel Phoenix are mortal after all.

The C.P. Allen Cheetahs took advantage of a turnover-plagued Citadel offence — and did just enough when they had the ball — to down the Phoenix 14-4 on Thursday night in NSSAF Football League play, snapping the Halifax school’s formidable 46-game winning streak.

In Bedford, the Cheetahs picked off four passes, forced two fumbles and blocked a punt against an offence that has run roughshod over opponents for much of the past five years.

“Our defence carried the team,” said C.P. Allen quarterback Sean Muir, who completed 12 of 17 passes but only amassed 57 yards against a typically stingy Citadel defence.

“Four interceptions, that’s huge for them. That carried us big time.”

The Phoenix hadn’t lost since their final regular-season game of the 2008 season. They went on to win the provincial title that fall, beginning a string of five straight crowns that encompassed four undefeated campaigns.

But they struggled Thursday night to create any offence against the Cheetahs, who were playing their first home game on the new field next to the sparkling-new C.P. Allen High School.

The Phoenix lost a fumble on their second play from scrimmage, went two-and-out on their next possession and fumbled again the third time they had the ball.

“Not to pass blame on anything, but our offence was just awful,” Citadel head coach Mike Tanner said. “We can’t win football games with an offence playing like that.”

C.P. Allen’s playmakers didn’t fare much better in the first quarter, failing to gain a first down the first three times they had the ball.

The score was deadlocked at 2-2 after the first quarter, with each team conceding a safety rather than punt out of the end zone and give its opponent enviable field position.

Cheetahs running back Taylor MacDonald scored the game’s only touchdown at 4:57 of the second quarter, barging in from two yards out on third-and-goal.

The major came minutes after C.P. Allen blocked a Citadel punt and recovered the ball on the Phoenix 19-yard line. But when Cheetahs kicker Greg Hutchins had his short-range field-goal try blocked, the ball deflected back toward the Citadel goal-line where a teammate fell on the ball.

The bizarre play gave the Cheetahs enough yards for a first down on the Citadel four-yard line and they scored three plays later.

C.P. Allen led 10-2 at halftime and scored a point in the third quarter on a missed field-goal attempt that sailed through the end zone. The Cheetahs salted the game away on a 30-yard Hutchins field goal with 1:14 left in the game after the Phoenix had drawn to within seven points by forcing C.P. Allen to concede another safety.

Defensive back Andre Boudreault, who had two key interceptions in the fourth quarter, said his team was excited about halting Citadel’s lengthy win streak but understood it was just a regular-season game.

“It feels really good but we can’t make too much out of it. They’re a good team. We’ll see them again (in the playoffs).”

Citadel running back Scott Baigent, who had the game’s longest carry, a 32-yarder up the middle in the fourth, said his team struggled to block the Cheetahs defence.

“We weren’t really expecting it,” he admitted.

“But it’s just a game. It’s not the championship game so it doesn’t really matter. We’ll probably see them again.”

C.P. Allen improves to 2-0 with the win while Citadel is 2-1.

“We knew this was going to be a tough opponent,” said Tanner, the Citadel coach.

He said his team didn’t play with the streak on their minds.

“It was a nice streak to be on but now that it’s over, I think it’s time to start another one,” he said with a chuckle.

“It just opens the season up now that we have to start working a little bit harder. We’re not gonna be able to put our helmets on the field and people are gonna roll over.  In the long run this might be the best thing to ever happen to us, because we’re still a championship team, there’s no question in my mind about that.”

BY BRIAN FREEMAN SPORTS REPORTER

http://thechronicleherald.ca/sports/1155594-cheetahs-snap-phoenix-streak

 

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