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Game Story: Rams 35, Huskies 26

Winning in Saskatoon is a big deal. And for some it’s a much bigger deal than others.

The way the Rams and their fans reacted following their nine point victory tonight, jumping up and down and carrying on as though they had just won the Vanier Cup, should not be entirely unexpected. Winning on the Huskies’ home turf is a rare experience for them, with this game being only the second in 14 years they have won in Saskatoon.

Corbin Eskelson takes down Marc Mueller (photo by Derek Moretensen for Electric Umbrella)

It was far from a convincing victory, but it was a victory nonetheless, putting the Rams in the drivers seat for a home playoff game should these teams end up tied in the standings at the end of the year. The Huskies fall to 2-2 and are back on the road next week, going into Calgary to face the first-place Dinos.

The Huskies, who set a Canada West attendance record with 9,033 in attendance, were actually the far better team through the first half of the game, putting together drives of nine, 11 and 13 plays which ended up in a touchdown and two rouges on field goal attempts of 25 and 30 yards. Regina had a six-play touchdown drive, as well, but the momentum was clearly on the side of the Huskies, with the defence hammering Regina quarterback Marc Mueller and allowing only hard-earned short gains.

Then, with 2:25 left in the half, momentum shifted. An unforced error, a Kit Hillis fumbled punt return deep in his own territory, set the Rams up on the Huskie 23. Four plays later, Kolten Solomon was in the endzone, putting the Rams up 14-9. The Huskies marched the ball from their 35 to the Ram’s 22 late in the half, with Chase Bradshaw leading the drive at quarterback, but had to settle for a 27-yard Samson field goal, this one good. The score was 14-12 for the Rams at halftime, with many people wondering what the status of starting quarterback Drew Burko was.

The Rams would continue to ride the momentum in the second half, coming out of the gate and putting together an eight-play, 74 yard drive that ended in Solomon’s second touchdown of the game. With the score 21-12 and quarterback Burko on the sidelines with an injury to his non-throwing hand, Bradshaw was only able to cover 24 yards on the Huskies’ first drive of the half and 23 yards on the second, turning the ball over on downs on the second drive. Regina took advantage of the field position and momentum, marching the ball 66 yards on Seven plays, with Michael Kiapway scoring the first of his two touchdowns on the day to cap the drive and make the score 28-12.

The Huskies’ ensuing drive was cut short on the second play, with Kirby Kezama intercepting a Bradshaw pass and taking it to the Huskie 14. Although the Huskie defence would not make it easy on the Rams, with David Rybinski sacking Mueller for his second sack of the game, the Rams would eventually run the ball in, with Kiapway making the score 35-12 for the Rams just over a minute remaining the third quarter.

The fourth quarter was a different story, as the Huskies forced the Rams into a two-and-out to start the frame. This spurred the offence, with Bradshaw connecting with Kit Hillis for a 47-yard touchdown, making it 35-19. The defence forced another Regina two-and-out, and after taking over at their own 31 after a Regina punt, the Bradshaw and the offence put together a seven-play, 79-yard drive that ended in a 24-yard Bradshaw to Hillis touchdown pass, making the score 35-26 with over nine minutes left.

The Rams were only able to cover 16 yards on their next drive and had to punt the ball away, but they ate up almost three minutes on the game-clock. The Huskies were only able to cover 20 yards on their next drive, forcing another punt, and with their last drive of the game, the Rams covered eight plays, and, more importantly, took 3:55 off the clock. Starting his final drive on the Huskies’ 23, Bradshaw tried to take the ball downfield for a last-minute score, but the Rams’ defence tightened and sacked Bradshaw, turning the ball over on downs and securing their first win in Saskatoon since 2007.

Kit Hillis heads for the endzone (photo by Derek Mortensen for Electric Umbrella)

The end result of this game was a direct result of the Huskies unforced errors and the loss of their starting quarterback in the second quarter. If it wasn’t for the fumbled punt return late in the second quarter, the two missed field goals, and a backup quarterback putting in his first significant time in the CIS, this game would have had a far different outcome.

One need only look at the stats sheet to see how close this game really was: Regina had 32 first downs to Saskatchewan’s 31 while Saskatchewan had the edge in passing yards (335 to 330) and total offence (444 to 416). The Huskies had five sacks to Regina’s two, while Regina recorded the lone interception.

While Regina was the better team on the night and they deserved the win, fortune also smiled upon them at Griffiths Stadium. The Huskies, with several new and inexperienced players in the lineup on both sides of the ball, and after losing their starting quarteback in the first half, came close to erasing a 23-point deficit against a team loaded with fifth and fourth-year players.

The Huskies play in Calgary against the Dinos next week. This will be a good test for them and is, dare I say, a winnable game. After what we saw tonight, it is clear that the Huskies only have to tighten up a few small things to be, at least, on-par with the much more experienced pre-season favourites in Canada West.

16 Responses to “Game Story: Rams 35, Huskies 26”

  1. Jim says:

    Terrible defensive play calling. The three man d-line with no blitzing was not working. Mueller had way too much time to pick the d apart. Coaches stuck with the strategy that consistently gave up first downs on second and long.

    • Gordon Shumwick says:

      absolutely brother – you are spot on. When a team outscores you in the 3rd quarter as bad as the Rams did…it is obvious that our coaches could not make necessary adjustments at the half….and could not respond to Regina’s adjustments. The Dogs have been ‘under coached’ for a decade now. The players are studs – put them in situations to succeed.

  2. HuskiesRaidersHabs says:

    Right on Jim. I feel for our guys on D. Playing such a passive, soft defence the second half. Our boys are elite football players, let them show it. Our corners play at least 10 yards off. I can see in the slot where the receivers in motion towards the line but outside can we not man up there?

  3. Mad Dog says:

    I really don’t get how rushing three and dropping nine plays to our strengths. Eventually someone will find a soft spot in the zone and since the QB has all day to find him…

    If Coach C is committed to the 30 front at least always blitz one or two or (my favorite) overload on wide side, blitz two and drop a DE into the short zone also protects against the QB escaping to the sideline.

    • stan sandomirsky says:

      All the above very true. The monster D has not worked well, and why the reluctance to a 40/3 D? More stunts, blitzes, and CBs who jam occasionally and not play big cushions. Levi comes on the field and makes a great quick move to get a huge sack. The talent and frequently the execution are there, but the schemes are hindering us, as is the lack of adjustment or change. Very frustrating for informed fans.

      • gordon shumwick says:

        Does anybody out there sense complacency in the organization? (certainly not with the players) The Dube family puts a lot of time and effort into the team…should they not be seeing better overall results?

      • Mad Dog says:

        The wierd thing about the savk yhat Levi got was I thim he went in thinking the Rams were going with the short yardage Offense and then they came out in the gun. Levi was in a three point and just blew past Tackle. I don’t think it was a agressive play call, I think it was an accident.

  4. HuskiesRaidersHabs says:

    I see your point Gordon. It seems it the “huskie way” or no way. And yes we have had tons of success but I believe we have also been slow to adapt. For example: BT himself said we need to get the ball into JGK hands, amazing athlete, yet he sits on the sidelines. Would it be feasible to have a “wildcat” package for him. Bring him in 10-15 snaps a game. Opposing teams have to spend time during their week prepping for him. Make it tough for teams to plan for us. Multiple sets on defence and offence. I realize that schemes can only go so far it comes down to the athletes and their execution but if the opposition doesn’t know where your QB is going to be, pocket, rolling, running etc . it seems we then give ourselves an advantage.

  5. I love it! Keep the comments coming guys. The guys who run this site work their butts off and thus far the fans haven’t chimed in with their thoughts and it’s a bit disheartening. To see people interacting like in this thread is what the board is all about. it’s great to see such passionate fans because it’s this kind of passion that ensures that we can grow the Outsider and the Huskie Nation! Thank you.

    • Mad Dog says:

      For sometime I have been concerned that we are so caught up in the belief that the system will utimately let us previl. To me it more like an inability to think outside of the box or worse yet not realizing that the box exists. (Although the no huddle is a great addition.) Gone are the days when we could rely on our OL to control the LOS and run for 150+. Need to get creative in game planning and play calling.

  6. 22 SkiDoo says:

    This game should have been won. The selfish penalties that the Huskies took hurt them, but the horrible play calling and refusal to make necessary adjustments is what killed them. The worst part is that the coaches are so stubborn that reading these comments will only make them more opposed to changing anything. GIVE THE DEFENSE A CHANCE TO PLAY AN ATTACKING STYLE AND MAKE PLAYS!

    • gordon shumwick says:

      take a look at the Laval coaching style…no fear…gamble on 3rd and 1 and show some ‘testicular fortitude’. Stop the ‘coaching to not lose’ philosophy and let the boys perform!

  7. EqMgr says:

    Unfortunately, I think the players need to take some of this blame. Very untimely UR penalties, the inability to field a punt (really!?), close on the wide side out and please arm tackles rarely get the job done. Good thing is that these are very easily corrected. As far as the D front, those boys did get 5 sacks

    • 22 SkiDoo says:

      Of course the players need to accept some of the blame, but so do the coaches…and a lot of it. I think there have been so many comments about the play calling on defense because we’ve seen what happened on Friday take place too many times in the past few seasons.

  8. HuskiesRaidersHabs says:

    I don’t think our D got any sacks from the 3 man front that we seemed to use exclusively in the second half. A comment was made about coaching not to lose and I have to say I agree with it. It seems that through the years whenever we get up we go conservative on both O and D. I believe a different mindset affects the team in those situations and once you “shut it down” it’s hard to fire it back up. Mike Leach the former coach at Texas Tech wrote a book “Swing your Sword”. In it he talks about how every football players career could end on the next play so you better make it your best play. A lot of people accused him of running up scores but he saw it as playing to the best of your ability all the time not just until you get up by 20 points. As a fan that’s what I would like to see. All three phases of the game O,D and ST played balls out all game and let the chips fall where they may. BTW is Trevon Martinez injured?

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