The Huskies escaped with a week two win in the narrowest of fashions, coming back in the last two minutes from an eight point deficit and knocking down a questionable two-point convert attempt by the Alberta Golden Bears in overtime.
While the Huskies battled a tough and much-improved Bears team all afternoon, they also battled themselves in all three phases of the game. This was certainly not the result one expected after last week’s 71-3 blowout of the Bears by the Dinos and the 44-24 one-sided victory by the Huskies over the Bisons.
The Huskies had a difficult game from the start, with Jeremy Long finally getting into the endzone on third-and-goal for the first touchdown. Alberta came back and the difference at the half was one point, although there was a sizable advantage in yards of offence for the Bears, who ended up with 572 yards on the day to Saskatchewan’s 483.
When the Huskies came out and put up two quick touchdowns from Andre Lalonde and John Trumpy, it looked like they may have made similar halftime changes as last week. However, the 15 point lead they built up was short lived, as the Bears came back to tie the game at 24 early in the fourth quarter.
The Bears took the lead thanks to a rouge and a field goal, with the Huskies going bouncing passes when they needed to drive the field and score. When they got down into the Bears territory, they were only able to get a field goal (barely, as they first couldn’t get their entire unit on the field and then almost had the snap go past holder Mitch Hillis) to come within one point.
However, the Bears were able to drive the field with relative ease on the ensuing possession, finding open receivers in the soft coverage of the Huskies while running the ball for large gains. They would score a touchdown with 1:45 remaining on a 40 yards pass to Jimmy Ralph, who was by himself thanks to horribly blown coverage.
The Huskies still had enough time left to make an attempt at a comeback, and they completed a five-play, 75-yard drive with a Mitch Hillis touchdown and a Andre Lalonde two-point conversion. With 1:02 left on the clock, the Bears responded how they had most of the game, methodically picking apart the Huskies defence and putting themselves into scoring position. Fortunately for the Huskies, the 31 yard field-goal attempt by the Bears went wide, with the Huskies bringing it just out of the endzone to avoid the rouge.
This led to the first Huskie overtime game since September 4, 2009, when the Huskies beat the Dinos at home. Like that game, the Huskies would win after stopping a two-point convert that, if successful, would have given the Bears the win. The Huskies’ successfully converted touchdown, scored by Kit Hillis, stood as the winning points on a night that few will soon forget.
The Huskies move on with a 2-0 record and will face the 2-0 Dinos at home next Friday. However, the Huskies’ 2-0 record is far different than the Dinos’ 2-0 record, as the Dinos have been absolutely dominant, outscoring their opposition 130-14 while the Huskies have outscored their opposition 86-63. The Huskies are a missed field goal away from going into week three at 1-1 and probably should have been the Bears’ first victory since the infamous Canada West comeback victory over the Huskies in 2010.
The Bears will take several moral victories away from this game and will use this to get that first victory soon. The Huskies, on the other hand, have a lot of work to do before next week if they don’t want to get blown out by the Dinos. On defence, they have to find their pass rush, which the Bears completely took away, and they have to tighten up their coverage, as they gave up eight passes of 20 yards or more and 413 yards overall. This won’t be easy without starting cornerback Taylor Rehn, who went out with a suspected shoulder injury in the second quarter.
Offensively, there is even more work to do. The ground game was almost completely neutralized, with the exception of Tyler Chow, who averaged 5.3 yards on his four carries. Drew Burko skipped or overthrew several receivers, although he is not completely to blame for this, as he had Alberta defenders in his face far too often. The offensive line may be down their most experienced player, but they need to be better than today, especially when it comes to run blocking. The Bears had far too many tackles for a loss or stops for no gain, and that will only get worse with the Dinos next week.
The Huskies have a short time to get a lot better. Let’s hope they play to their opposition’s level again next week.