On Blackout night at Griffiths Stadium, the Huskies 2017 football campaign managed to take another turn for the worse. The University of British Columbia Thunderbirds travelled to Saskatoon and snuck away with a 29-25 victory over the Huskies.
While the annual halftime fireworks show was explosive, the Huskies offence failed to provide many fireworks of their own throughout the first three quarters. A sluggish start dug the group into an early hole, and they entered the fourth quarter trailing 23-2.
However, the Huskies managed to gain momentum late in the game, as quarterback Kyle Siemens threw for three touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Despite a valiant comeback effort, the Huskies dropped their fourth straight game and now stand at 2-4 with only two regular-season games remaining.
The loss was a tough one for the Huskies and came with its fair share of controversy. Kyle Siemens found Chad Braun wide open for a 33-yard touchdown with just seconds left in the game, which sent the crowd abuzz. However, the celebration was short-lived. The play was called back due to a penalty on Yol Piok for illegal blocking downfield.
The touchdown would have put the Dogs up 31-29, sealing their victory. The penalty on Piok was a heartbreaking end to a frustrating game for the Huskies, in a contest where they had struggled to get anything going throughout the first 45 minutes of action.
The Huskies were unsuccessful in establishing a ground game, despite starting running back Tyler Chow returning to the Huskies lineup, as the team only managed 54 rushing yards. Fellow running back Colton Klassen exited the game early and was seen on the sidelines with crutches. Klassen has filled in admirably for Chow over the past couple of games, and the severity of his injury will be a situation to monitor.
On the defensive side of the football, third-year Huskies linebacker Ben Whiting made his presence felt as he returned to the field after missing the previous two games due to injury.
Whiting got back to business early with seven tackles, including one for a loss, and managed to add a forced fumble. Whiting and company will need to work out the kinks on the defence as the group has now allowed at least 500 yards of total offence in four consecutive games.
The Huskies are still clinging onto the fourth and final post-season spot, but the last two weeks of the regular season will see matchups against the Alberta Golden Bears and the Manitoba Bisons. The Bears and Bisons are trailing the Huskies in the standings with matching records of 1-5, and both teams will be playing some pretty desperate football as they chase after their post-season dreams.
A loss for the Huskies in either of the next two games will put the team in danger of failing to qualify for the post-season. The program hasn’t come up short of the playoffs since 2000, and missing out on the big dance would be a disappointing start to the Scott Flory era at the University of Saskatchewan.
The Huskies will return home on Oct. 28 to take on the Bisons on Fan Appreciation Night in what will likely be a must-win game for the team.
Photos: Emily Sutherland