It was one of the better Canadian Interuniversity Sport games to be played on Saskatoon turf in recent memory. Big hits, big plays, and huge heartbreak for the home team.
In the 73rd running for the Canada West title, the Hardy Cup, the No. 2 ranked Calgary Dinos traveled to Griffiths Stadium in Saskatoon Saturday to take on the No. 3 Huskies in a battle for the ages.
The Dinos, whose only loss on the season came in the first week to the Huskies in overtime, had nothing but revenge on their minds. With the score 39-38 for the Dinos and just seconds left on the clock, a 35-yard field goal attempt by the usually sure-footed Huskies kicker, Grant Shaw dive-bombed wide of the uprights, sending a bolt of shock through over 5,000 onlookers and the Huskies team watching from the sidelines.
“It’s a team effort and games shouldn’t come down to one play or kicks like that,” said a solemn Huskies quarterback Laurence Nixon after the game.
“Mistakes that I made in the red-zone cost us points and ultimately this is a team game so you can’t fault Grant.”
Momentum was a hard thing to keep in a game that featured 77 points but there were times throughout the match when the Dogs had chances to bury their opponents but were unable to do so.
Take for instance early on in the game, when the Huskies managed just three field goals when they had opportunities to put one, if not two touchdowns on the board. Instead the score remained 9-0 for Saskatchewan before two Calgary touchdowns. The Huskies would finally answer with a major of their own, as Nixon connected with Rory Kohlert who scampered down the sidelines for a 37-yard score. By halftime the Huskies found themselves out in front of the Dinos 19-15.
The seesaw battle would continue into the third quarter, as Calgary marched 85 yards to take back the lead, 22-19, on a 10-yard Matt Walter rushing touchdown.
Saskatchewan would snatch back the momentum midway through the third quarter though when Keenan McDougall blocked a Dinos punt and returned it for a touchdown to put the Dogs up 26-19. A frenzied third quarter would end on a Huskies field goal to put the Dogs up by 10, only to have Calgary charge back with 10 of their own points after a 60-yard touchdown by Richard Snyder.
A Calgary safety and a Braedon George touchdown put the Huskies up by 10 points with little time remaining in the game. Cue the Dinos Hec Creighton nominee quarterback, Erik Glavic, to start and end a comeback.
Time after time Glavic escaped Huskies pressure, constantly finding open receivers downfield.
First Glavic led his team downfield for a field goal to put the Dinos within six points. Then, with the Huskies fans screaming and trying to will the Dogs to victory, Glavic silenced the house with his own four-yard touchdown to put the Dinos up by one, 39-38.
Credit the Huskies quarterback Nixon, who many times led his team downfield to score late to win and did it again. With under two minutes to play, Nixon marched the Dogs all the way down to the Dinos 28-yard line setting up what was supposed to be a winning field goal. Calgary called their last time-out hoping to put more pressure on the Huskies kicker Shaw.
Apparently the pressure was too much, as the kick bounced its way into the endzone and was immediately brought out securing a one-point win for Calgary.
Glavic, the Dinos sensational quarterback, finished the game with 28 completions out of 36 attempts on 479 yards, including 106 yards rushing. Alternately, Huskies quarterback Nixon made 24 successful completions on 35 attempts for a total of 422 yards.
It is strange to think that in the first meeting of the season the Huskies won in overtime by one point, and in the next meeting the Dinos won by one point; both teams finished the Canada West season with identical 7-1 records.
However, at the end of the day, when it mattered most, the team from Calgary had one more play in them than the Huskies.
photo: Chris Uhl