Coming into this game, the Huskies needed a victory to secure third place and a first round trip to Regina. They got the win, but what they made was a statement.
This team is for real and is ready to make a run in the playoffs. The offence, which has struggled this season, especially without starting quarterback Drew Burko in the lineup, put up 35 first downs and 534 yards on the night. They put points on the board on eight of 18 offensive drives, including seven touchdowns. All of this without Canada West leading receiver Kit Hillis in the Huskie lineup.
Defensively, this team is as solid as it has been all year. While they gave up yardage, they were very tough to put points up against and kept UBC from maintaining momentum or gaining consistency. They were much more aggressive than we saw early in the season, shooting the gaps and forcing bad throws or tackling the ball carrier for a loss.
After both offences sputtered out of the gate, the Huskies settled down under Burko’s direction and took an early 3-0 lead after a Cole Samson 22 yard field goal. UBC would answer that two drives later, capping off a nine-play, 62-yard drive with a Thomas Moult 26 yard field goal.
Burko didn’t take long to reply, taking the ball 75 yards on five plays, ending with a 34-yard touchdown to Charlie Power, his second major of the year and second in as many games. The Huskies would lead 10-3 after the first quarter.
It wouldn’t take long to open the game up, with Burko hitting Mitch Stevens for a touchdown after the ball was deflected by a UBC corner, making the score 17-3. The next Huksie drive took longer than one play to find the endzone, with the Huskies marching 37 yards on three plays with Shane Buchanan rushing for his second touchdown of the season at 10:11, making the score 24-3.
Billy Greene would make a game of it, showing his Hec Crighton winning form on the next series, taking the Thunderbirds 75 yards on eight plays, with Patrick Bull hauling in a 15-yard touchdown pass, narrowing the score to 24-10. The defences would tighten up on the next set of plays, but after UBC gave up the football on downs on the next drive, the Huskies would take advantage with a drive that ended in a one-yard Chase Bradshaw sneak for a touchdown, making the score 31-10, a score that would hold up at halftime.
After the defence stopped a promising UBC drive to start the second half, Burko and the Huskie offence would take only four plays to put the ball in the endzone, once again to Stevens for his second touchdown of the day. With the score 38-10, the defences would tighten up, with the next six combined drives gaining 47 total yards for both teams. Within these drives would be fifth-year veteran David Rybinski’s third-and-a-half sack of the year, a play that forced a UBC punt.
UBC started a drive at the end of the third quarter that they finished early in the fourth, with Greene finding Daniel English for a 12-yard score, making the score 38-17 for the Huskies. With 8:21 left in the game, the Huskies would engineer another scoring drive, this one a one-play, 68-yard run by rookie Jarvis James, who would score his first CIS touchdown.
The subsequent UBC series would see the Thunderbirds turn the ball over on downs on thee-straight plays. The Huskies would take advantage of this and three plays later, Burko found Braeden George in the endzone for six, making the score 52-17. UBC would score another major in garbage time, with Lucas Spagnuolo taking the ball over the plane. The game would end a 52-24 victory for the Huskies.
The Huskies showed in this game that they are ready to be a force and should be considered a real contender to take the Canada West this year. They are playing at a high level in every area of the game, and if they are able to stay at this level, a few mistakes, like the two interceptions and one missed field goal tonight, won’t kill their chances of winning.
It will be exciting to watch this team go to work in the playoffs. They now travel to Regina for the first time this year for a date with the Rams next Friday, and they would like to finish off the comeback they started in the fourth quarter of their last game.