The Huskies trampled the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds Oct. 9 by a score of 44-7 and dissolved any criticism that had been mounting concerning Saskatchewan’s lowly offensive output this season.
Coming into the game with a mere 55 points and three touchdowns in four games, the Huskies offensive unit put on their best performance of the season. After nearly a month’s absence from PotashCorp Park, the Huskies improved their record to 4-1 on the Canadian Interuniversity Sport season and slid into a tie for first in the Canada West with the University of Calgary Dinos.
Other than a few touchdowns left on the field due to some fumbles and interceptions, Huskies head coach Brian Towriss was impressed with his team’s performance. Towriss also partially attributed the success to the windy, frigid prairie weather that UBC was unprepared for.
“It’s about time we got rolling on offence. We came out of the gate really well, took advantage of the wind in the first quarter and put up 17 points and then they were fighting an uphill battle,” said Towriss.
“We came out and played hard and UBC wasn’t prepared for what they faced tonight against us. They weren’t prepared for the weather either, so that was an advantage to us right from the get-go.”
The Sept. 4 and Sept. 11 Friday night Huskies football games on Saskatchewan turf consecutively broke attendance records with 6,053 and 6,090 fans filing into PotashCorp Park. However, Saskatoon’s icy and windy weather kept many Huskies fans inside, leaving the attendance level to hover at 2,020 people at last Friday’s game.
Tyler O’Gorman opened the scoring for the Huskies on two consecutive touchdowns to give the Prairie Dogs a quick 14-0 lead. After a Saskatchewan onside kick, the Huskies recovered the ball, which led to a successful Grant Shaw 50-yard punt to make it 17-0 with the first frame drawing to a close.
The 50-yard kick tied Matt Kellett’s record for the longest field goal in Huskies history and was the first of three successful punt attempts by Shaw.
With 6:58 remaining in the second quarter, Garrett Bolen scampered into UBC’s end zone for the Huskies’ third touchdown of the evening, making the score 24-0 over the scrambling Thunderbirds.
On the ensuing Huskies kickoff, the ball was recovered by Saskatchewan player Marley Erwin on the Thunderbirds’ 28-yard line after the pigskin took a strange bounce. Shaw then kicked a 35-yard field goal into the blistering wind on the drive to make it 27-0 in favour of the Green and White.
Heading into halftime, the Thunderbirds remained scoreless at PotashCorp Park.
One minute and 19 seconds into the third quarter, Scot McHenry picked up a first down from a well executed Laurence Nixon throw near the Thunderbirds’ 30 yard line. Nixon then completed an 11-yard pass to Jeff Hassler who averted a Thunderbird tackle near the end zone to make the score 34-0 with the Huskies’ fifth touchdown.
Thunderbirds’ David Boyd broke UBC’s offensive drought and scored on a rushing play with a little under five minutes remaining in the third quarter to set the score at 34-7 as the fourth quarter approached.
Under two minutes into the fourth quarter, Saskatchewan’s kicker Grant Shaw hit the uprights from 30 yards out for his third field goal of the evening to make it 37-7 for the Huskies. The remaining action of the game came from Alex Balogun, who got the Huskies’ lone touchdown in the fourth quarter to make it 44-7.
Saskatchewan’s run game made the difference for the Huskies. Bolen, O’Gorman and Hassler played an important role and contributed greatly to the 296 yards the Huskies picked up in the rushing category.
“We just game planned to run this week and tried to establish that,” said O’Gorman.
“We tried last week and it was almost there but all this week we put emphasis to try and get our run game back after it has been gone for four weeks.”
Aware of the criticism directed toward the Huskies offensive core coming into the game, O’Gorman didn’t let it faze him.
“Each week I think we’re progressing as an offence and things are getting better so really that’s all that matters. If critics want to beak it, so be it, but we’re practicing hard every week and trying to get better,” said O’Gorman.
McHenry, who returned to the line-up after missing two games, finished as the top receiver with 86 yards on five receptions. In addition, Huskies quarterback Nixon completed 12 of 20 passes for 154 yards and one touchdown.
Towriss knows the win is a huge motivator for the Huskies offence but that it should not be overemphasized. UBC is a struggling basement team in Canada West and following the loss to the Huskies they slip to a league-worst 1-5. The Huskies now need to focus on beating the Manitoba Bison when the Huskies travel to Winnipeg next Friday.
“We really need to focus on what we need to continue. We’re practicing well, we’ve got some people back and I think we have the potential to do some good things,” said Towriss.
“We got to get ready and go into Manitoba and get another win next week.”
The Huskies return to PotashCorp on Oct. 23 when they face the only team that has managed to best them this season, the Alberta Golden Bears.
photo Robby Davis