The University of Saskatchewan Huskies earned their spot in the conference championship after their 28-23 semifinal victory against the University of Alberta Golden Bears. It was the first Huskie playoff win at home in 10 years.
Alberta came well prepared against Saskatchewan, running out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and taking a 21-15 lead into halftime.
“Obviously, they came out and punched us in the mouth pretty good. They pulled out all the stops and we expected them to, they’re a very good team,” Huskie quarterback Mason Nyhus said, who threw for a career-high 334 passing yards.
Defensively, something needed to change in the second half — and it did. The Huskies secured three interceptions on three straight Golden Bear possessions in the third quarter.
“Take a deep breath, that’s what I told them at halftime,” head coach Scott Flory said. “Sometimes you just need to take a deep breathe and just play.”
“Our defense settled down and came out in the second half and pitched a shutout. That’s remarkable [for] the defense, and coach Muzika making adjustments and rallying the boys in the second half,” Flory said.
Defensive lineman Nicholas Dheilly, a first-year Huskie who transferred out of the Regina Rams in anticipation of their expected downfall, could not have been more pleased with his decision to leave Regina and chase big games for the Huskies.
“I’ve never played in a Hardy Cup. On the Rams, we lost in the first round of playoffs every time. So this is a hell of an experience to be with the Huskies with this kind of group of guys and coaches and play in my first Hardy Cup,” Dheilly said. “I came to this school to win games, get to the Hardy and play bigger games.”
Dheilly praised Nyhus after the Huskie quarterback took a huge hit in the second half that left him on his hands and knees for a few minutes.
“When you see him get hit like that, we know how hard it is because we hit QBs like that too and they don’t get up like that,” Dheilly said. “To see my boy, Nyhus, get up like that and take over [in] the second half was unbelievable — so much respect to him.”
Saskatchewan will now travel to Calgary for the rematch of last year’s Hardy Cup final, that saw the Huskies win 43-18.
The first place Dino’s barely survived against Manitoba last week, squeaking out a 47-46 victory. The Bisons caught a 50-yard hail mary pass as time expired, and they elected to go for the win with the two-point conversion but were unsuccessful.
The winner of the conference championship will move onto the national semifinal, the Mitchell Bowl, hosted by the winner of the Hardy Cup. If Saskatchewan wins, they will host the national semifinal for the first time since 2005.
Tanner Michalenko/ Sports & Health
Photo: Supplied by GetMyPhoto.ca/HuskieAthletics