The University of Saskatchewan men’s football team picked up momentum heading into the post-season after defeating the University of Regina Rams 33-15 on Saturday Oct. 26 in Regina. The win gives the Huskies a 5-3 record, good enough for a third place finish in Canada West and a spot in the semi-finals of playoffs.
The Huskies defeated the Rams with a balanced attack involving many players. Seven different Huskies caught a pass and five more had at least one carry. Jarvis James led the way on the ground with 44 yards rushing on just six carries. Dexter Janke also had two touchdowns off the ground. Quarterback Drew Burko threw for 217 yards and two touchdowns. His favourite target was Garrett Burgess, who hauled in six catches for 66 yards.
The Dogs had a 9-0 lead at the end of the first quarter following a team safety and Janke’s first touchdown of the game. The offence started picking up for both teams in the second quarter. Mitch Stevens found the endzone on a seven yard pass play for the Huskies and Rory Copithorn answered for the Rams on an 18-yard touchdown pass. After two quarters of play the Huskies held a 16-7 lead.
Denton Kolodzinski kicked off scoring in the third quarter when he connected on a 21-yard field goal to push the Dogs ahead 19-7. Janke increased the gap, running in his second touchdown of the night from one yard out.
The Huskies assumed an insurmountable 33-7 lead in the fourth quarter after Kit Hillis scored on a 27-yard pass from Burko. The Rams had one final kick left as Richard Sindani hauled in a 46-yard touchdown pass with just over a minute left on the board.
Defensively, Brad Kotania and Keegan Arnyek led the way with seven tackles apiece. The Huskies weren’t lacking for interceptions as Arnyek, Corey Eddington, Clayton Sarich and Thomas Hilderman each recorded one and Braxton Lawrence added another two. Kotania and Zach Hart had a sack each.
The Rams’ season comes to an end with a disappointing 2-6 record, meaning they will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
There were definite moments of triumph for the Huskies. The defence had eight takeaways — six of them via interception — and the offence put up over 30 points for the first time in over a month. Heading into playoffs the offence will have to capitalize on all the turnovers the defence forces, and use that to take the lead and put teams away.
The Huskies enter the playoffs with plenty of room for improvement. They gave up six turnovers on offence and surrendered 382 yards of offence to the Rams. As the weather becomes more of an issue ball security will be a priority — the Dogs fumbled four times and will have to play a much cleaner game to win on the road.
The Dogs will take on the second seeded Bisons this Friday in Winnipeg in semi-final action. One of the keys to victory will be to hit the field running. The Huskies have started slow for the past few weeks and will need to generate offence early on to have the best chance of advancing to the finals.
The defence will also have to be on the lookout for the Bisons’ aerial attack. Last time the teams met on Oct. 18 the Huskies gave up four touchdown passes, all of at least 20 yards.
The final key to the game will be the offence’s ability to turn the defence’s takeaways into points. This can help shift the momentum in the Huskies’ favour and silence the Bisons’ boisterous home crowd.
The victor of this semi-final will play the winner of the University of Calgary Dinos and the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds for the Canada West Championship.
Photo: Calvin So