Friday, 26 October 2018

Klassen sparks Huskies runaway win over Rams

Colton Klassen has been a key playmaker for the Huskies.
    Colton Klassen proved he is the unselfish and consummate athlete for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies football team this season.
    On Friday night at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, the Huskies were stuck in first gear trailing the host University of Regina Rams 7-3 after the first quarter in a U Sports regular season clash. At that point, the game’s completion changed in lightning fashion due to Klassen.
    Facing a second and seven at their own 40 yard line, Huskies quarterback Kyle Siemens connected with Klassen on a 70-yard pass and run touchdown to put the visitors up 10-7. That sparked a surge where the Huskies outscored the Rams 24-7 in the frame to go ahead 27-14 at halftime.
    U of S cruised from that point posting a lopsided 57-14 victory. The win allowed the Huskies to finish the regular season with a 5-3 record, and they will place no lower than third in the Canada West Conference.
    The Dogs could finish second in Canada West and host a conference semifinal playoff game on Nov. 3, if the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds (4-3) fall to the University of Manitoba Bisons (3-4) on Saturday in Winnipeg, Man. The Thunderbirds hold the standings tiebreaker with the Huskies winning the only head-to-head contest between the two sides 20-10 on Oct. 12 in Vancouver, B.C.
    The Rams fell to 1-7 and finished last in the six-team Canada West Conference. U of R was forced to forfeit three wins this season for using an ineligible player.
    Klassen, who is a third-year running back, has been a sparkplug for the Huskies this season. In Friday’s win over the Rams, he led the Huskies with 121 yards receiving on five catches, which included his 70-yard touchdown reception. The graduate of Saskatoon’s Holy Cross High School Crusaders football team also ran the ball five times for 21 yards.
Colton Klassen led the Huskies with eight TD catches.
    Last season, Klassen led the Huskies in rushing carrying the ball 76 times for 395 yards and three touchdowns. The alum of the Canadian Junior Football League’s Regina Thunder hauled in 21 passes for 185 yards and scored one touchdown through the air a year ago as well.
    Coming into the current campaign, Klassen found himself in a logjam at the running back position with the Huskies. Rugged star fifth-year tailback Tyler Chow was back to full health after missing half of the Huskies games last season due to injury and being limited in the other half he appeared in.
    The Huskies landed running back Adam Machart as an off-season recruit from the Saskatoon Hilltops. Machart had an outstanding 2017 campaign with the Hilltops and was a member of their CJFL championship teams in each of the past three years.
    In Klassen, Chow and Machart, the Huskies had three players who could all make plays, when they were on the field. Huskies head coach and offensive coordinator Scott Flory and his staff have to be commended for finding a way to give that trio significant field time.
    For Klassen, that meant sliding into the role of receiver, which he filled professionally. His pass catching abilities became that much more important, when the Huskies lost standout receiver Sam Baker due to injury in a 48-46 victory over the Bisons on Sept. 7 in Winnipeg.
    Klassen, who stands 5-foot-8 and weighs 200 pounds, ended up leading the Huskies with 676 receiving yards and eight touchdown receptions all coming on 38 catches. He wasn’t just a fill in at receiver. He became a go-to target who ensured the Huskies passing attack didn’t drop off.
    While being mainly a pass catcher, Klassen did chip in with the running game carrying the ball 14 times for 97 yards and one touchdown.
    Klassen was a key contributor in helping the Huskies return to the post-season after one-year absence. Without the numbers he put up as a receiver, the Huskies easily could have finished further down the Canada West standings.
Kyle Siemens threw four TD passes for the Huskies on Friday night.
    During Friday’s encounter with the Rams, the Huskies took a 3-0 lead in the first quarter on a 28-yard field goal from star kicker Sean Stenger.
    The Rams went ahead 7-3 on a three yard touchdown run by star fifth-year tailback Atlee Simon before the first quarter expired.
    That set the stage for the Huskies to go ahead 10-7 on Klassen’s 70-yard touchdown reception. Chow followed that score up with a 34-yard touchdown run to give the Huskies a 17-7 edge.
    The Rams cut the gap to 17-14 on a 65 yard touchdown run from Kyle Borsa.
    In the final 65 seconds of the first half, the Huskies surged ahead 27-14 on a 13 yard field goal from Stenger and a 34-yard touchdown reception from Machart.
    Early in the third quarter, the Rams conceded a safety to put the Huskies up 29-14. Siemens proceeded to throw respective touchdown passes of eight and 18 yards to Joseph Trumpy and Jesse Kuntz to give the visitors a 43-14 lead.
    Backup quarterback Mason Nyhus entered the contest in the fourth quarter and hit receiver Kyle Newton with a four-yard touchdown pass.
    Machart rounded out the scoring with a four-yard touchdown run.
    Siemens completed 21-of-31 passes for 321 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. Nyhus hit on 8-of-10 pass attempts for 104 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.
    Chow had 99 yards rushing on 14 carries to go with his major score on the ground, and Machart 86 yards rushing on 15 carries to go with his touchdown run.
    Kuntz hauled in seven passes for 106 yards to go with his receiving touchdown.
    Defensive ends Riley Pickett and Tristian Koronkiewicz each had a sack for the Huskies.
Adam Machart scored two TDs for the Huskies on Friday night.
    Colton Hippe started at quarterback for the Rams in place of injured fifth-year star Noah Picton and completed 9-of-21 passes for 51 yards. Borsa topped the Rams with 88 yards rushing on seven carries.
    Linebacker Cole Benkic, who is a Hilltops alum, led the Rams with 8.5 tackles, while U of R defensive lineman Ryan Warner had a sack.
    While the Rams season comes to an end, the Huskies play a short waiting game to see where they will begin their venture through the 2018 U Sports playoffs.
    If U of S makes any noise in the post-season, it is a safe bet to expect Klassen will play a key part in creating that noise.

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