Huskies Work Overtime To Slip By Bears

Curtis Dell’s two-point convert throw was batted down at the line of scrimmage, taking with it any chances of a University of Alberta Golden Bears victory as the visiting Saskatchewan Huskies held on a for a tense 42-41 overtime win at Foote Field on Saturday night in Edmonton.

Saskatchewan quarterback Drew Burko hit fifth-year receiver Kit Hillis from 11-yards out for the game winning touchdown on the opening drive of overtime, as the No.6 ranked Huskies improved to 2-0 on the season.

Alberta fought back from a 24-9 third quarter deficit to force overtime, including 19 points in the fourth quarter, and even though they got a touchdown run from sophomore runningback Ed Ilnicki in the extra frame, they couldn’t find any magic with the 2-point convert attempt, and fell just short of their first victory of the season. The Bears are now 0-2 on the year.

Led by fifth-year quarterback Curtis Dell, making his first start since 2012, the Beas racked up 572 yards of offence, including 413 through the air as Dell connected on 25 of 41 passes with two TDs and one interception. Dell also rushed for a touchdown. Ilnicki had a strong game for the Bears as well, churning up 118 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries. Receiver Adam Zajdel had seven catches for 151 yards and a major, while Jimmy Ralph also hauled in seven passes, but for 145 yards and a touchdown. Freshman kicker Vu Ndhlovu hit a 31-yard field goal, as well as a rouge on the night, while punter Stephen Fabian had a punt single as well.

Golden Bears linebacker Connor Ralph made a game high 11 tackles on the night.

Burko, a third-year QB from Saskatoon, completed 24 of 38 passes for 382 yards with four TD tosses and one interception. Receiver John Trumpy was his main target as the fourth-year Business student caught six passes for 82 yards and one TD. The Huskies also got TDs from Hillis, Andre Lalonde and Mitch Hillis, while fifth-year kicker Denton Kolodzinski kicked a pair of field goals.

After a promising game opening Alberta drive ended in a missed field goal single point, the Huskies put up 10 straight to lead by nine through the first quarter.

The Bears defence, however, pitched a shutout in the second quarter, while the offence started to get on track as Dell connected with Zajdel from nine yards out to make the score 10-9 at half.

Saskatchewan started the third quarter strong though, marching 95 yards on eight plays, capped off when Lalonde streaked into the endzone from 41 yards out, giving the ‘Dawgs a 17-9 lead just 3:27 into the second half. Fourth-year defensive back Chris Friesen picked off Dell at the Alberta 40-yard line a few plays later, which led to Burko hitting Trumpy in the endzone from 16-yards out, bumping the score to 24-9 at the 8:49 mark.

Undaunted by their predicament, the Bears struck paydirt when Ilnicki rumbled past the goal line from four yards out to complete a seven-play 76-yard drive that made the score 24-16. The Golden Bears continued to make plays as safety Ryan Migadel picked off Burko at the Alberta 25-yard line late in the third quarter. Dell then hit Ralph for a 32-yard gain, followed by passes to Clinton Richardson for four yards, and a big 41-yard gain to Zajdel to end the third quarter with Alberta first and 10 from the Saskatchewan three yard line.

One minute into the fourth, Dell found the endzone on a third-down quarterback sneak, and then hit Ralph for a two-point convert to tie the score at 24.

Alberta then jumped ahead 28-24, thanks to a 40-yard punt single by Fabian, and a 31-yard Ndhlovu field goal. But, Saskatchewan was able to draw right back to within one point courtesy a Kolodzinski successful 34-yard field goal with just 3:17 left in the game.

Dell then moved the Evergreen and Gold 75 yards on four plays, including a 40-yard TD pass and run to Ralph, as the Golden Bears headed into the final minute of play with a 35-27 lead.

Facing third and 10 at the Saskatchewan 49-yard line, Burko heaved a jump ball down the sideline which was caught, 36 yards later by Brydon Ozmun, setting up the Huskies first and 10 on the Alberta 25-yard line. From there, Burko found Mitch Hillis on a 10-yard touchdown pass, which was followed up by a successful 2-point convert pass to Lalonde, making the score 35-35 with less than a minute to play.

Alberta managed to get back into Saskatchewan territory, but Ndhlovu’s field goal attempt was off the mark, and retuned out of the endzone, sending the teams to OT.

The Huskies scored on their opening drive when Burko hit Kit Hillis, but Alberta was able to shake-off an offside call and convert a third and 10 situation, which allowed Ilnicki to power in from six yards out for the touchdown. Fourth-year Huskies’ linebacker Geoff Hughes smashed Dell’s 2-point convert attempt out of the air, however, to clinch the Saskatchewan victory.

Both teams return to action next weekend when the Bears host the Regina Rams (1-1), while the No.6 ranked Huskies host the 2-0 and No.2 ranked Calgary Dinos in Saskatoon. Next Saturday’s Alberta game can be watched live on Shaw TV as well.

Game Notes:
Both teams lost key players to injury, including Golden Bears starting runningback Levon Hawreliak who left the game in the second quarter after a hellacious hit to the head…Alberta also lost their home opener in OT last season when they dropped a 39-36 decision to the UBC Thunderbirds

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