Saturday, 19 October 2019

Football Huskies let golden chance slip through their hands

David Solie (#15) could not save the Huskies with a long winning field goal.
    David Solie wasn’t able to get the University of Saskatchewan Huskies football team off the hook.
    On the last play of the U Sports regular season game against the host University of British Columbia Thunderbirds on Saturday, Solie lined up for a 49-yard field goal attempt to try and win the game for the Huskies.
    Solie’s difficult boot went wide, and Thunderbirds running back Daniel Appiah ran the ball out of his team’s end zone to their 23 yard line. Appiah’s effort preserved a 38-37 victory to delight most of the 732 spectators at Thunderbird Stadium.
    The Huskies held a 37-25 edge with 3:58 to play in the third quarter only to see the Thunderbirds respond with 13 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to pull out the win.
    U of S let a golden opportunity to jump into first place in the Canada West Conference slip through their hands falling to 4-3. The Huskies were rated third in the U Sports Top 10 rankings
    The Thunderbirds, who were already eliminated from the U Sports playoff picture before Saturday’s clash started, improved to 2-5.
    By the midway point of the second quarter, the action in the two other Canada West regular season games had concluded. The University of Regina Rams downed the University of Alberta Golden Bears 31-17 in Edmonton, Alta.
Adam Machart ran for 176 yards on Saturday.
    The University of Manitoba Bisons clinched the final playoff berth in Canada West downing the University of Calgary Dinos 43-29 in Winnipeg, Man. The Dinos were rated fourth in the U Sports Top 10 rankings.
    With the loss by the Dinos, the Huskies would have been able to move into first in Canada West had they been able to beat the Thunderbirds going into the final week of regular season play.
    Instead, the Huskies became the third Canada West team to lose to a squad with a weaker record in the conference standings on Saturday.
    When the dust settled, the Dinos remained first at 5-2. The Huskies, Golden Bears and Bisons sit tied for the second, third and fourth in the conference with identical 4-3 records.
    The Rams and Thunderbirds will miss the post-season tied for the fifth and sixth spots in the standings with identical 2-5 records.
    In the clash between the Huskies and Thunderbirds, the Huskies fell behind 10-0 early in the first quarter and trailed the host side 13-7 after the first quarter ended. The visitors pulled ahead 30-22 at halftime.
    With 8:45 remaining in the third quarter, Thunderbirds kicker Garrin McDonnell hit a 23-yard field goal to cut the Huskies lead to 30-25.
    With 3:58 to play in the third, Huskies star running back Adam Machart hauled in a five-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Mason Nyhus to give the Huskies a 37-25 edge.
    The Thunderbirds proceeded to battle back in the fourth quarter. Early in the frame, McDonnell hit a 35-yard field goal to cut the Huskies advantage to 37-28.
    With 4:28 remaining in the fourth quarter, Thunderbirds quarterback Gabe Olivares connected with receiver Jacob Patten on a six-yard touchdown pass to trim the Huskies lead to 37-35.
Mason Nyhus put up 295 yards passing for the Huskies.
    With 1:29 remaining in the fourth quarter, McDonnell attempted a 42-yard field goal to put the Thunderbirds in front. He missed, and Huskies star utility player Colton Klassen returned the ball to the U of S 25 yard line to preserve the two-point edge.
    The Huskies were unable to cash in on their opportunity to run out the clock to preserve victory. On first down, Machart ran the ball four yards, but Nyhus was sacked on second down by Thunderbirds linebacker Daniel Kwamou for an eight-yard loss.
    After the Huskies punt, the Thunderbirds had the ball on the 42 yard line on the U of S side of the field. The host side quickly got into position that saw McDonnell hit an 11-yard field goal with 31 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to put the Thunderbirds in front 38-37.
    With little time on the clock, the Huskies got into position for Solie to attempt a difficult field goal to win the game, which he wasn’t able to make.
    So far this season, the Huskies have been involved in two games that were decided by seven or fewer points, and they lost both of those contests despite holding the lead going into the final minute of the fourth quarter.
    The other close setback was a 19-17 decision in favour of the Golden Bears on Sept. 21 in Edmonton.
    In both of those close losses, the Huskies weren’t able to make the one or two plays in crunch time to earn victory. Had the Huskies managed to pull out one of those two close setbacks, they would have been sitting in good shape heading into the final week of the regular season.
Ben Whiting had 14 total tackles for the Huskies.
    In the first half of Saturday’s encounter between the Huskies and Thunderbirds, receiver Sam Baker hauled in touchdown receptions of 83 and 19 yards and Machart ran in a major from four yards out.
    Solie hit field goals from 39, 30 and 32 yards out.
    UBC’s first half scoring came from field goals from 23 and 20 yards out from McDonnell, a 50-yard interception return touchdown from linebacker Ben Hladik, a conceded safety from the Huskies and a nine yard touchdown reception from receiver Lliam Wishart from Olivares.
    Nyhus completed 20-of-35 passes for 295 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions for the Huskies. Baker hauled in seven receptions for 150 yards to go with his two scores.
    Machart carried the ball 18 times for 176 yards to go with his one major on the ground and his five-yard touchdown catch through the air.
    On the season, Machart became just the third player in the history of the Huskies to break the 1,000-yard mark in rushing for a season. Machart has carried the ball 127 times for 1,104 yards and eight touchdowns, and he has caught 17 passes for 158 yards and three major scores.
    Linebacker Ben Whiting topped the Huskies with 14 total tackles on Saturday.
    Olivares completed 27-of-40 passes for 375 yards, two touchdowns and one interception for the Thunderbirds. Patten had 10 catches for 203 yards to go with his one major score.
Kene Ezekeke led the Thunderbirds with 10 total tackles.
HC Scott Flory, second from right, and his staff have to plan the regroup.
    The Huskies close the regular season this coming Saturday, when they host the Golden Bears at 2 p.m. at Griffiths Stadium. The winner of that contest will lock up at least a second place finish in Canada West and host a Canada West semifinal playoff game.
    U of S could still finish first in Canada West, if they down the Golden Bears and the Dinos fall to the Thunderbirds in their regular season encounter this coming Saturday in Calgary, Alta.
    The Huskies could finish fourth in Canada West, if they fall to the Golden Bears this coming Saturday and the Bisons down the Rams in Regina, Sask., this coming Friday.

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