Monarchs’ offence and defence shines again in semis victory (Courtesy Fort McMurray Today)

The Fort McMurray Monarchs are headed to the Alberta Football League championship for the first time in their two-year history.

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The team’s offence and defence went about their business as usual Saturday evening at Shell Place, limiting the Central Alberta Buccaneers to a single touchdown in the fourth quarter and piling up the points in a 43-7 victory.

“That’s what you want to do going into every game — just get better from the last game and try to do things better that you didn’t do last game,” Monarchs head coach Dave Spence said. “The running game was very effective, Carson (Williams) threw the ball very well and hit the receivers where he needed to hit them.”

Jourdain Alexis caught a pair of touchdown passes while Melvin Abankwah made the most of each hole his offensive line opened up in front of him to give him three touchdown runs on the evening.

“You’ve got to just use your eyes when you’re going through holes,” Abankwah said. “I read the holes today and just hit it.”

After the Monarchs’ defence pinned the Bucs in their own end zone for a rouge to go up 1-0, Alexis hauled in a long pass from Williams to put the Monarchs up 8-0. After switching ends for the second quarter, Alexis got it done at the other end of the field, hauling in another pass from Williams that looked clear to drop to the ground after Kwame Osei — Williams intended target — got held back by a Bucs player.

That would be all the scoring until the second half, when Abankwah went on a rampage for three touchdowns, the last coming on the first play of the fourth quarter to stick a dagger in the hearts of the Bucs.

“Had he been here from the start, I’m sure he’d have broke records,” Spence said of his star running back, noting both him and Alexis provided a big one-two punch for his club. “They’re both very similar and very explosive players. They’re pretty hard to stop.”

Pascal Tshilambo, the AFL’s leading touchdown receptions leader from the regular season, only needed to haul in a single touchdown to help his team to victory in the semi-final.

“They keyed on him and structured their defence around trying to stop him,” Spence added. “That just opens doors for other people to make plays so that’s what happened today.”

The win by the Monarchs set up a rematch against the Calgary Gators in two weeks time. After losing to the Gators by a 22-15 score in week four, the Monarchs will be eager to return the favour in Calgary.

“(The Bucs) came here to play and that was good,” Spence said. “We needed that. Going into the championship game where obviously the Gators are going to be a formidable opponent and we’ve got to be able to overcome these things and meet these challenges.”

The Gators and Monarchs will meet up in Calgary Sept. 12 to decide the AFL Champion.

robert.murray@sunmedia.ca