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Vandals running back Curtis Vetter charges through a hole Saturday during the third quarter of Lloydminster’s 21-10 win against the Grande Prairie Drillers at Armstrong Field. Jamie Harkins/Meridian Booster
The Lloydminster Vandals senior football team’s latest game against the Grand Prairie Drillers follows the path it has taken in recent years.
The Vandals (2-1) suffered through a grinding first half at Armstrong Field on Saturday thanks to the smash mouth attack of the Drillers offensive line and running back Tristan Werklund.
The home side’s inability to execute on their chances in the red zone also played a part in the club facing a 7-0 deficit at halftime.
An early rush in the third quarter led by Vandals running backs Curtis Vetter and Sasha Jackow culminating in a third-and-five pass from quarterback Mike Holman to Matt Holman for the major brought the score back even.
The two connected once again early in the fourth quarter with the receiver converting on a lucky play to put the Vandals ahead 14-7.
“It was a tipped ball in the end zone,” said Vandals receiver and coach Glen Dembicki.
“One of our receivers went up for it and it got tipped and another guy caught it. Everybody is playing a little tight in a low scoring game like that, and as soon as you can get (ahead), it kind of opens the floodgates. You can see the pressure mount and everybody gets going.”
Lloydminster added to the lead on their next possession with a quarterback keep from Grande Prairie’s three-yard line.
Mike Derkach kicked all three converts for the home side in the 21-10 win, while Tyler Fulmek scored three field goals for the Drillers (1-2) with the remaining point coming on a first quarter safety.
“We came down with five linemen, so we gassed ourselves out,” said Drillers slot back and coach Jordon Fersch.
“Lloyd, they made a good game plan in the second half and they stopped our run game.”
Dembicki said the Vandals have been plagued with a short-staffed roster since losing upwards of 30 players after their Canadian Major Football League championship season in 2012, but they do have a majority of last year’s squad that went 2-6 in the Alberta Football League back this year and have added another 10 to 12 players.
He said those strong numbers means they could be looking at a return to playoff football.
“I’m happy where we are right now in the season,” said Dembicki, who noted the Vandals will be back at Armstrong Field this Saturday at 5 p.m. for a game against the Calgary Wolfpack (0-3).
“There is a lot of games left to be played and (we’ll face) tougher games in the second half, so we’ll keep on doing what we’re doing, try to keep working in practice and keep getting better.”