Special to the Sheaf
It was a win almost five years in the making, as the third-ranked Saskatchewan Huskies football team were defeated by the University of Alberta Golden Bears 27-7 Friday night at Edmonton’s Foote Field.
It was Alberta’s first win over the Huskies since Oct. 23, 2004 and only the team’s fourth win over their Saskatchewan rivals in the past decade.
For the second week in a row, Alberta took down a ranked opponent after beating the previously number-seven ranked Simon Fraser Clan.
The Bears took a 10-7 lead into halftime and despite giving up a late touchdown to Saskatchewan in the first half, Alberta was able to re-establish momentum in the last two quarters, dominating the Huskies by scoring 17 unanswered points.
As big as the victory was for Alberta, it was that much sweeter for fourth-year receiver Mike Wasylyniuk, who spent the 2004-05 seasons with the Huskies. Originally from Katepwa Lake, Sask., Wasylyniuk continued his strong play of late, scoring his team-leading third touchdown of the season early in the third quarter, which put the Bears up 17-7.
“The feeling is undescribable right now,” Wasylyniuk said after the game. “This is the reason why I came to Alberta. I came here to beat Saskatchewan and help this team. This feels great.”
“This is the reason why I came to Alberta. I came here to beat Saskatchewan and help this team. This feels great.”
former SK resident
Despite narrowly losing their first two games of the season, the win over Saskatchewan now puts the Bears in an excellent position to take a run at a post-season berth ÂÂ— something the team hasn’t accomplished since 2005.
“Our team was pretty down after losing those two games to Calgary and UBC by a total of four points,” Wasylyniuk explained. “We knew we still had a good team — we were in those games until the end.”
It was a trying game for the Huskies offence as quarterback Laurence Nixon and the rest of the Dogs had their worst offensive output of the season. Nixon was out of rhythm all night and sailed three interception passes into the hands of Bears defenders, while backup quarterback Trevor Barss also threw an interception.
Bears defensive back Jason Hetherington, also a Saskatchewan-born player, hauled in three of the Huskies’ errant passes and was the first Bear to record three interceptions in a game since 2002.
“I like playing the U of S — I had two (interceptions) last year (against them), so I’m having a good time playing these guys,” Hetherington remarked.
After struggling all season long against the run, the Bears managed to hold the Dogs to only 33 yards rushing. Fifth-year Huskies running back Taylor O’Gorman was quiet in front of his hometown crowd, mustering a measly 10 yards.
“We wanted to make sure that we took it as a team challenge to defend the run,” Bears head coach Jerry Friesen explained.
With the loss, the Huskies find themselves in a four-way tie for second place in the conference with SFU, Regina and Alberta.
Look for the Huskies to resume action when the Green and White travel to Burnaby and clash with SFU on Oct. 2.
photo Sam Brooks