The No. 2-ranked University of Saskatchewan Huskies welcomed the UBC Thunderbirds to Griffith Stadium on Sept. 10 in the season’s home opener.
The game resulted in a huge upset as the Thunderbirds capitalized on six turnovers resulting in a 31-12 victory. This UBC win over the Huskies is the first since 2000 and only the fourth time the T-Birds have beat the Huskies since 1998.
In their first two possessions of the game the Huskies were in scoring position but two field goal attempts were missed by rookie kicker Denton Kolodzinski.
UBC took over defensively and found offensive strength in second-year kicker Billy Pavopoulos who contributed five field goals in the game. After a first quarter fumble by Travis Gorski on the Huskies six-yard line, UBC recovered and scored to make the game 7-1. The Huskies completed a 19-yard field goal but that didn’t stop UBC’s Ryan Couper from reaching the end zone for yet another T-Birds touchdown. Pavopoulos made the game 17-4 with 17 seconds left in the second quarter.
The Huskies did not fare much better in the second half, with two more field goals from Pavopoulos, one as a result from another U of S fumble on the Huskies’ 27-yard line. The Huskies found the end zone with a nine-yard touchdown by Mitch Stevens with 8:06 left in the fourth quarter, bringing them within 13 points of the T-Birds. UBC could not be stopped however, as they stormed the field and made their final plays which brought the score to 31-12.
UBC quarterback Billy Greene completed 15 of 29 passes for two touchdowns and one interception. Receivers Spencer Betts and Victor Marshall led the T-Birds with 45 and 44 yards respectively.
Huskies starting quarterback, Laurence Nixon, completed 12 of 23 passes before he was pulled in the end of the third quarter for backup Trent Peterson, finishing the game with seven completions on 11 attempts with one touchdown pass. UBC’s defence did not make it easy for the Huskies QBs, sacking Peterson four times. T-Birds linebacker Nathan Kanya led in tackles with nine in total and two sacks. Zach Hart lead the Huskies with 7.5 tackles.
Both the Huskies and the Thunderbirds sit at 1-1 in the western standings but the Huskies have now dropped from third to sixth in CIS rankings. The T-Birds return to UBC campus to host the University of Manitoba Bisons on Sept. 18. The Huskies head to Regina to take on the Rams at Mosaic Stadium the same day.
image: Pete Yee