The Central Alberta Buccaneers defeated the Calgary Wolfpack 38-13 in their Alberta Football League semifinal game in Red Deer on Saturday.
Jarrett Burzuk, filling in for injured starting quarterback Brandon Leyh, threw for two touchdowns and ran for another.
The 22 year old admitted to being nervous before the game.
“We knew these guys were going to come out and play hard, for sure. Luckily Brandon has been a great mentor to me all year and the team rallied for me today. This is not my game, it’s the team’s game for sure,” Burzuk said.
“Our offensive line played their hearts out and blocked well and we had a great rushing game. I think that was key to our success, our ground attack and our defence played lights out.”
In their one regular season matchup on June 23, the Bucs blew out the Wolfpack 70-25.
This game was not as lopsided.
The Bucs took carried a 17-7 lead into halftime thanks to a field goal and a touchdown run from Burzuk. Ian Keetch also ran for a major.
Burzuk looked comfortable using his speed to call his own number.
“I’ve always been a quarterback but I know that I’m quick and I take that to my advantage. I know my size is not ideal at quarterback but I can run fast and try to be smart when I can, slide when I can and get first downs,” he said.
In the third quarter, after the Bucs’ defensive back Peter Harris made a diving interception, Burzuk’s pass threaded two defenders, landing in the hands of receiver Josh Blanchard.
Burzuk’s second touchdown pass, this time to Ben Hnatiuk, gave the Buccaneers a commanding 31-7 lead early in the fourth quarter.
After a late Calgary touchdown, the Buccaneers’ Major Newman ran for a touchdown to make it 38-13.
The victory means the Buccaneers will once again play in the Alberta Football League championship, to be played on Aug. 25.
In the league’s other semifinal, the undefeated Fort McMurray Monarchs took out the St. Albert Stars 51-0, setting up a third straight matchup with the Bucs for the league title.
“Our defence is going to have to play how they played last week and we’re going to have to … throw the ball well. I’m going to have to be smart with it and if we can get the ground game going, I think that will be keys to success,” Burzuk said.
As to the Bucs quarterback situation, Burzuk said it was “very likely” that he would start the final in Fort McMurray.