HUSKIES FALL SHORT OF COMEBACK2013-11-01
Narrowly holding off the No. 10 ranked University of Saskatchewan Huskies, the No. 9 ranked University of Manitoba Bisons advance to the Canada West Football Hardy Cup with a 37-36 win Friday night in Winnipeg's Investor's Group Field.
It is the first victory for the Bisons over the Huskies in a postseason football game since 1973 and advances the Bisons past the semifinal for the first time since the 2007 Vanier Cup championship season. The Huskies are now 1-8 in Canada West playoffs since a 2006 Vanier Cup loss.
Manitoba rallied after losing a 17-5 halftime lead with 20 points in the fourth quarter but had to wait for the final play of the game when Huskies’ kicker Denton Kolodzinski lined up for a 44 yard field goal with two seconds left on the clock. After a Manitoba and then Saskatchewan timeout, the snap was low and seemed to throw of the timing of the kick and the very low attempt had no chance to get over the wall of players.
Prior to the last play, the Huskies overcame a 14 point deficit by proceeding to score 24 unanswered points. It started with a safety at the end of the first half and then second-year quarterback Drew Burko hit 2012 CIS All-Canadian Kit Hillis with a 61 yard touchdown to start of the second half. Kolodzinski hit a 43-yard field, as well as touchdowns by Mitch Hillis and Mitch Stevens gave Saskatchewan a 29-17 lead.
Just when the home side look to be out of it, the comeback was sparked by Jordan Yantz finding Nic Demski for a 39 yard touchdown to close the lead to five points with just over 11 minutes left. Saskatchewan would regain a 12 point lead when Mitch Hillis caught his third touchdown of the playoff game when he found the end zone from 46 yards out and a 36-24 visitors lead with 9:34 left.
The hosts drove 65 yards on seven plays and finished with Yantz finding a streaking Demski on the sidelines for a 32 yard touchdown. The two-point conversion was stopped with only 1:23 left and then Saskatchewan drove for a potential winning field goal on the ensuing drive.
In team stats, both teams registered over 1,100 yards combined in offence. Saskatchewan piled up 622 total offence yards with 502 passing and 124 rushing while Manitoba had 499 yards (371 – passing; 146 – rush). The visitors lead 30-26 in first downs while Saskatchewan had 12 penalties for 110 yards while Manitoba was nine for 84 penalty yards.
The Huskies were led by Burko who completed 28-of-47 passes for a career-best 502 yards and four touchdowns. Kit Hillis was top receiver with a game-high nine receptions for 134 yards and a touchdown, while Mitch Hillis added eight grabs for 124 yards. Mitch Stevens had two catches for 101 yards.
On offence for the Bisons, Yantz was 23-for-36 for 371 passing yards and four touchcowns. Demski had seven receptions for 115 yards and three touchdowns, followed by Andrew Smith with four grabs for 95 yards and one touchdown.
On defence, Saskatchewan's Richard Zacharias and Brad Kotania tallied 5.5 tackles each. For the Bisons, David Onyemata notched a game-high 7.5 tackles and Bami Adewale with 7.5 tackles.
Manitoba will meet the winner of the Calgary Dinos-UBC Thunderbirds semifinal.