Friday, 6 September 2019

“Mac” on the attack as Huskies rock Thunderbirds 40-7

Adam Machart, right, celebrates his second of two touchdown runs on Friday.
    Adam Machart was running as sleek as a Porsche 911.
    The star running back for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies football team hit high gear on Friday night at Griffiths Stadium striking the first shock and awe blow in a U Sports regular season game with the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds.
    With 4:58 remaining in the first quarter, Machart, who stands 5-foot-8 and weighs 185 pounds, broke off a 63-yard touchdown run to give the Huskies a 7-0 lead.
Adam Machart piled up 134 yards rushing for the Huskies.
    He rolled from there piling up 134 yards rushing on 15 carries and adding a second touchdown on a one-yard run early in the fourth quarter, and he caught five passes for 39 yards.
    Machart’s efforts ultimately allowed the Huskies to hammer the Thunderbirds 40-7 in front of 6,278 spectators in what was the homecoming game for the U of S side.
    For Machart, Friday’s win, which allowed the Huskies to improve to 1-1, eased the sting from a 43-19 defeat at the hands of the University of Manitoba Bisons in Winnipeg on Aug. 30, which was the regular season opener for both squads. The drubbing in the Manitoba capital had a lot of self-inflicted elements as the Huskies turned the ball over seven times in that contest, while the Bisons didn’t have a single giveaway.
    “We had a lot to prove tonight, and I think we came out hard, and hit hard and ran hard,” said Machart. “I think we did just that.
Adam Machart (#20) jets home on a 63-yard touchdown run.
    “I think once you start getting success you just start maybe running a little harder and blocking a little harder. It just starts to come.”
    Machart is in his second year with the Huskies and using his third year of U Sports eligibility. He came to the Huskies after playing three seasons with the Saskatoon Hilltops from 2015 to 2017 helping them win the Canadian Junior Football League titles in each of those campaigns.
    With the Huskies, Machart became the team’s starting running back this season taking over from Tyler Chow, who exhausted his U Sports eligibility last season when the Huskies won the Canada West Conference title.
Adam Machart, right, follows his blocking towards the goal-line.
    Coming into this season, Machart believed he had something extra in his game.
    “It is probably the healthiest I have been in a long time,” said Machart. “Being able to put in a full off-season really helps.
    “We have one of the best strength and conditioning coaches in the country in Joel Lipinski, so having that guy around getting us on the right programs and stuff like that really helps as well.”
    While Machart’s long touchdown run to open Friday’s game gave the Huskies some early momentum, they weren’t able to shake the Thunderbirds during the first three quarters of the contest.
    Early in the second quarter, Thunderbirds rookie starting quarterback Tommy Yanchuk hit second-year receiver Jacob Patten with a 12-yard touchdown toss to even the score at 7-7.
Adam Machart (#20) tears out of the hands of a UBC tacklr.
    With 9:32 remaining in the second quarter, Huskies kicker David Solie nailed a 42-yard field goal to put the hosts up 10-7.
    On a third and goal gamble with 1:50 remaining in the second quarter, Huskies quarterback Mason Nyhus hit sure-handed receiver Jesse Kuntz with a two-yard touchdown toss to extend the U of S edge to 17-7.
    That score held up until the 3:56 mark of the fourth quarter, when Machart scored his second touchdown for the Huskies on a one-yard run to increase their advantage to 24-7. Machart’s run came on a third-and-goal gamble and capped a 10-play drive that covered 85 yards.
    Huskies head coach Scott Flory is pleased with how Machart has performed in the early going of the current campaign. 
Huskie LB Ben Whiting, right, nails a Thunderbirds running back.
    The sideline boss said his skilled runner is feeling better physically compared to a year ago.
    “I know he had some lingering kind of knee pain,” said Flory. “He took some time away, and then he has been training so hard.
    “He has found another gear. To compliment that, you put in Chewy (Josh Ewanchyna). They are both really special running backs.”
    Machart’s second scoring run sparked a 23-point surge by the Huskies in the fourth quarter that included a couple of big plays.
    Receiver Daniel Perry ran a punt back 75 yards for a touchdown on a spectacular return down the left sideline to put the Huskies up 31-7. 
    Solie booted a 34-yard field goal to push the Huskies lead out to 34-7.
Colton Klassen had 135 yards receiving for the Huskies.
    With 39.5 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Huskies third-year defensive back Nelson Lokombo intercepted Thunderbird backup quarterback Gabe Olivares and raced 95 yards for the final U of S major. Solie hit the post on the extra point attempt making the final score sit at 40-7 in favour of the Huskies.
    Flory was pleased to see his team rebound with a victory after dropping their opener to the Bisons, but he said his squad still needs to get better.
    “It was clearly a better effort,” said Flory. “We were physical.
    “There are still some mistakes. We have to clean up penalties. There is always stuff to correct.
    “That was more like us than last week was and that is good. It is good to be back at home in front of a great crowd here. It was a good football game.”
    Nyhus completed 26-of-37 passes for 306 yards, one touchdown and one interception in picking up his first U Sports victory as a starting quarterback. The Regina, Sask., product spent the last two campaigns backing up Kyle Siemens, who exhausted his U Sports eligibility last season.
Daniel Perry, left, returns a punt 75 yards for a touchdown for the Huskies.
    During the 2016 campaign, Nyhus redshirted with the Huskies.
    “It is awesome to come out here and get a win,” said Nyhus. “The crowd was amazing out here.
    “It wasn’t a surprise by any means. We have a great atmosphere every time we come play at home. It is a great feeling for sure.”
    Huskies star offensive utility player Colton Klassen led the team in receiving hauling in eight passes for 135 yards.
    Defensive linemen Evan Machibroda and Nicholas Dheilly each had a sack for the Huskies. First year defensive back Logan Bitz topped U of S with eight total tackles, while second-year defensive back Nixen Voll had an interception for the Huskies.
Nelson Lokombo (#25) is congratulated for his major score off a pick.
    Yanchuk completed 16-of-31 passes for 151 yards, one touchdown and one interception as the Thunderbirds fell to 0-2. 
    Linebacker Nick Cross topped the Thunderbirds with 12 total tackles.
    Linebacker Lake Korte-Moore had a sack and an interception for the Thunderbirds, while defensive back Chris Thelasco had a sack for UBC.
    With the win over the Thunderbirds in the books, the Huskies return to action this coming Friday, when they travel to Regina to take on the University of Regina Rams (1-1) at 7 p.m. at Mosaic Stadium. 
   Machart said his squad has to keep improving in practice leading up to that contest.
Yol Piok (#81) lets out a cheer after the Huskies win on Friday.
    “I think we are in a good place, but we definitely have a lot to work on,” said Machart. “We’re going to hit that this week at practice.
    “We know what we have to do.”

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