Sunday, 3 November 2019

Hilltops’ win streak hits 30, Beefeaters fall 51-1 in CJFL semi

“Sarge” picks up milestone 209th career victory

Tyler Hermann threw for 297 yards and three TDs for the Hilltops.
    The milestones piled up almost as fast the points they put up on the scoreboard.
    Saying the venerable Saskatoon Hilltops had a banner Saturday at TD Stadium in London, Ont., might even be a minimal way to describe how the night went.
    The Hilltops, who are the five-time defending CJFL champions, hammered the host London Beefeaters 51-1 in a CJFL semifinal contest. With the win, the ’Toppers advance to the CJFL title game – the Canadian Bowl – for a sixth straight year.
    Saskatoon will travel to Langley, B.C., for the CJFL championship tilt on Nov. 16 against the host Rams.
    The Rams, who are 12-0 overall, downed the Westshore Rebels 35-12 in the British Columbia Football Conference championship game on Saturday in Langley to advance to host the Canadian Bowl. The Rebels, who are based in Langford, B.C., closed the 2019 campaign with a 9-3 overall record.
    In last year’s CJFL title tilt held in Saskatoon, the Hilltops hammered the visiting Rams 58-21.
Hilltops head coach Tom Sargeant picked up his 209th career win.
    The Hilltops, who are 11-0 overall this season, are the only team in the history of the CJFL to win five straight league titles, and they have claimed eight of the last nine CJFL championships. Saskatoon will be shooting to win six in a row and claim nine of the last 10 CJFL championships in the upcoming Canadian Bowl.
    On top of moving into position to possibly hit new benchmarks in CJFL championship wins, the Hilltops rolled off their 30th overall win in a row with their victory over the Beefeaters on Saturday including action in the CJFL’s regular season and playoffs.
    The Hilltops last loss came back in a regular season contest on Sept. 9, 2017, when they fell 29-26 to the Regina Thunder at Saskatoon Minor Football Field.
    Along with hitting 30 straight victories in their overall winning streak, the Hilltops have won their last 28 straight games on the road including action in the CJFL regular season and post-season. Due to their current run of consecutive championships, the Hilltops extended their CJFL record for consecutive post-season wins to 19.
Ben Abrook had 110 yards rushing for the Hilltops.
    On a personal front, Saturday’s victory was the 209th win in the career of legendary Hilltops head coach Tom Sargeant. The total moves Sargeant ahead of retired Regina Rams head coach Frank McCrystal for the most wins in Canada’s amateur post-secondary football ranks.
    Sargeant has a 209-30-2 career record in CJFL regular season and post-season action since becoming the Hilltops head coach before the start of the 1998 campaign.
    McCrystal was the head coach of the Rams from 1984 to 2014, and they played 15 seasons in the CJFL and 16 campaigns in U Sports over that time as the University of Regina Rams. Over those 31 seasons, McCrystal compiled a 208-104-2 record as head coach in the regular season and post-season in both the CJFL and U Sports.
    As for Saturday’s CJFL semifinal game itself, the contest was a big display of Hilltops might. Hilltops rookie defensive back Bailey Taylor intercepted Beefeaters quarterback Jake Pow on London’s first offensive series.
    Saskatoon turned that turnover into a 22-yard field goal from receiver/kicker Rylan Kleiter and a 3-0 lead.
    The Hilltops edge increased to 10-0 on their next offensive series thanks to a four-yard touchdown run by star power back Ben Abrook.
Doug Fleming threw a TD pass on Saturday.
    The Beefeaters proceeded to tally their lone score on a 29-yard missed field goal single by kicker Leo Centeno from 29-yards out to cut the Hilltops edge to 10-1.
    Before the first quarter came to a close, Hilltops fifth-year quarterback Tyler Hermann hit fifth-year receiver Connor Graham with a 75-yard pass-and-run touchdown to increase Saskatoon’s advantage to 17-1.
    In the second quarter, Hermann hit Graham for a 52-yard touchdown pass and then connected with third-year receiver Keegan Dicks for 20-yard touchdown strike to give the Hilltops a 31-1 lead.
Kleiter proceeded to boot a 22-yard field goal to give the Hilltops a 34-1 lead at halftime.
    Early in the third quarter, Kleiter hit a 20-yard field goal and backup quarterback Doug Fleming hit Graham for a touchdown strike to push the Hilltops lead out to 44-1.
    Second-year running back Jordan Tabin rounded out the game’s scoring in the fourth quarter with a nine-yard touchdown run for the Hilltops.
    Hermann completed 11-of-18 passes for 297 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Graham hauled in four passes for 154 yards to go with his three majors.
    Abrook carried the ball 16 times for 110 yards to go with his major score.
    Pow connected on 14-of-28 passes for 155 yards and was intercepted twice guiding the Beefeaters offence.
Connor Graham had four catches for 154 yards and three TDs.
    London was held to 58 yards rushing as a team in the contest.
    Defensive end Tristan Hering had three tackles and three sacks for the Hilltop. Caleb Haight had two sacks for Saskatoon, while Jesse McNabb and Brady Fossen each had a single sack.
    Hering, Haight and McNabb are all playing out their final campaigns of CJFL eligibility.
    Defensive back Jared Giddings had an interception for Saskatoon.
    Defensive back Codey McRoberts led the Beefeaters with seven defensive tackles.
    The Beefeaters, who finished with an 8-3 overall record, turned the ball over eight times including twice on interceptions, once on a fumble and five times on downs.
    Saskatoon didn’t have any giveaways in the contest.
    Now, the Hilltops will try to win their 21st CJFL title in team history. While the Langley Rams will be playing at home in the Canadian Bowl, they will be hard pressed to stop the momentum this Saskatoon train has built.

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