Luke Thiel on his way to a touchdown during the Huskies' home opener on Sept. 2, 2011.
The Huskies’ defence did not allow a single point against the Alberta Golden Bears in the Dogs’ 38-7 home opening win on Sept. 2.
The Bears’ only points of the game came in the third quarter after Jeremy Bell recovered Huskies’ receiver Rory Kohlert’s fumble for a touchdown.
Led by a defensive line that only gave up 59 yards rushing all game, the Huskies held the Bears to just 7 first downs.
“We took it to them on the line of scrimmage — on the defensive side of the ball — all night,” said Huskies’ head coach Brian Towriss.
The secondary, which saw a stellar performance from defensive back Seamus Neary, was also strong. Neary was named Canada West defensive player of the week for his 4.5 tackles and 60 yard interception return for a touchdown.
A two-yard touchdown run by Ben Coakwell early in the second quarter was the Huskies’ first touchdown of the conference season. Braeden George capped off the quarter with a five-yard touchdown reception from Jahlani Gilbert-Knorren.
Gilbert-Knorren’s first-half performance showed why Towriss chose him as the starter over Trent Peterson. Gilbert-Knorren eluded defenders and showed his arm strength by completing deep passes while scrambling. He finished the half running 40 yards on eight carries, completing 11 of 15 passes for 132 yards and throwing one touchdown and one interception.
The third quarter, however, was more difficult for the young quarterback. The Bears brought a stronger blitz package that easily broke through the Huskies’ inexperienced offensive line and that even Gilbert-Knorren couldn’t dodge.
“Alberta came with a smaller defensive front and came at us from all over the place,” said Towriss. “We just have to protect [our quarterback] better.”
Gilbert-Knorren was sacked once for a loss of 16 yards, threw one interception and added 40 yards passing and 10 yards rushing in the third quarter.
Peterson started the fourth quarter for the Dogs and after two shaky throws, including one interception, he completed his next five passes. He threw for 81 yards and one touchdown pass to Jeffrey Moore. Towriss indicated after the game that Peterson starting the fourth quarter was not an indication that Gilbert-Knorren would not start the next game.
“Jahlani didn’t do a bad job for us,” he said. “We just wanted to make sure we got Trent some meaningful minutes tonight.”
“It’s tough to get in there after being cold, but it feels good to get out and get the win,” said Peterson. “I have to take whatever role the coaches give me and you can guarantee I’ll give 100 per cent in whatever role that is.”
Luke Thiel also played a great game on special teams. His 62 yard punt return for a touchdown late in the third quarter stopped any momentum Alberta might have gained in the fourth quarter.
“Sometimes if we’re struggling on one side of the ball, we have to work that much harder on defence and on special teams,” said Thiel.
The Huskies have not lost a season opener in the last nine years. Their next game is at home against the Regina Rams on Sept. 9.
photo: Raisa Pezderic/The Sheaf