Sun Sets On Huskies Season:

The Saskatchewan Huskies handed the top-ranked team in the nation all they could handle, but the University of Calgary Dinos found a way to hold them off and came back to win 37-29 Saturday afternoon in a Canada West football semi-final.

The No. 1 Dinos, now 9-0, will face the UBC Thunderbirds in the 79th Hardy Cup next Saturday, Nov. 14 at McMahon Stadium. Kickoff is set for noon MT, live nationwide on Global Television, with the winner advancing to the CIS Uteck Bowl against the champions of the Atlantic.

Calgary had to come back from an eight-point halftime deficit, which followed an uncharacteristically quiet first half by the explosive Dinos offence – but a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns were enough to stave off the tenacious Huskies.

“They shut down our run early in the game and came away with some points on offence,” said Dinos head coach Wayne Harris of the Huskies’ quick start. “They used their weapons effectively, and it was a good challenge for our team. You need those challenges if you want to go on in the playoffs.”

With Calgary’s offense sputtering early, the Huskies wasted no time getting on the scoreboard as Kyle Siemens found Jarvis James on a shovel pass for a 27-yard touchdown just 5:29 into the contest. The Dinos responded with Mercer Timmis’s five-yard TD early in the second, but couldn’t manage much else in the opening half. Tevin Godfrey found the end zone on a 28-yard play with just 1:14 left in the second quarter, and Saskatchewan took a 16-8 lead into the break after holding Calgary to just 245 offensive yards and 42 on the ground.

Back from half time, however, the Dinos’ run game began to assert itself as Timmis began to find his stride. The offence started to gain momentum and, after Johnny Mark had cut the lead with a field goal on the opening drive, the Dinos pulled even at 19-19 late in the third quarter after a 17-yard Brett Blaszko touchdown catch. Calgary took its first lead 4:50 into the fourth when Timmis burst through the line for a trademark 24-yard touchdown, and Jimmy Underdahl added a one-yard plunge with less than two minutes to play.

Down two scores with time ticking down, the Huskies went 75 yards down field for a six-yard Julan Lynch touchdown, but Brendon Thera-Plamondon hauled in the onside kick attempt for the Dinos to preserve the win.

Timmis racked up 154 yards and the two touchdowns on 21 carries for Calgary, as the Dinos picked up 146 rushing yards in the second half alone. Andrew Buckley, meanwhile, was as calm as ever in the pocket, setting a school record with 33 completions on 40 attempts for 367 yards and a touchdown.

Siemens, who breathed life into the Huskies offence late in the season, completed 29 of 46 passes for 356 yards and three majors for Saskatchewan and kept Calgary’s defence off balance with excellent play-action execution. He spread the ball around nicely, with five receivers picking up at least three catches. Mitch Hillis led the way with eight catches for 82 yards, while James led the Huskies with 87 yards on the ground along with eight receptions for 72 yards out of the backfield.

Rashaun Simonise had another big day for Calgary with 10 receptions for 116 yards, while Blaszko picked up 115 yards on eight catches for the Dinos.

Defensively, the Dinos were able to sack Siemens five times and kept Calgary in the game until the offence was able to must some production in the second half.

The adversity, something the Dinos didn’t have to face much this season as they averaged a 40-point margin of victory, was welcomed by Harris as critical to the team’s prospects going forward.

“You can’t expect the kinds of outcomes that we’ve had so much this season – it’s just not realistic,” said Harris. “We still had more than 500 yards offence, which is great production. But we had a few breakdowns, a couple of penalties that cost us – things that we need to clean up and ensure that we don’t put ourselves in a bad position.”

The semi-final results set up a Hardy Cup replete with storylines as the Dinos welcome back former head coach Blake Nill. The Dinos and Thunderbirds played just once this season – a 49-16 Calgary win on the opening day of the season – and will meet for the Canada West title for the first time since 2011 next Saturday.

“We know Coach Nill very well and what they’re able to do,” said Harris. “He surrounds himself with great athletes, they have a good coaching staff and they’re going to have a great game plan. We’re going to have to match their intensity. You can never forget the emotional part of the game is huge to your success – you have to be excited and enthusiastic about what you’re doing on the field.”

Saskatchewan 08 08 03 10 – 29
#1 Calgary 00 08 11 18 – 37

1st Quarter
SASK – Jarvis James 27-yard TD pass from Kyle Siemens (Sean Stenger convert), 5:29, 7-0 SASK
SASK – Sean Stenger 59-yard missed FG single, 12:57, 8-0 SASK

2nd Quarter
CGY – Mercer Timmis 5-yard TD run (Johnny Mark convert), 1:21, 8-7 SASK
CGY – Johnny Mark 53-yard missed FG single, 5:25, 8-8
SASK – Tevin Godfrey 28-yard TD pass from Kyle Siemens (Sean Stenger convert), 13:46, 15-8 SASK
SASK – Sean Stenger 76-yard kickoff single, 13:46, 16-8 SASK

3rd Quarter
CGY – Johnny Mark 39-yard FG, 3:25, 16-11 SASK
SASK – Sean Stenger 38-yard FG, 11:08, 19-11 SASK
CGY – Brett Blaszko 17-yard TD pass from Andrew Buckley (Johnny Mark convert), 14:09, 19-18 SASK
CGY – Johnny Mark kickoff single, 14:11, 19-19

4th Quarter
SASK – Sean Stinger 18-yard FG, 3:00, 22-19 SASK
CGY – Mercer TImmis 24-yard TD run (Johnny Mark convert), 4:50, 26-22 CGY
CGY – Johnny Mark kickoff single, 4:52, 27-22 CGY
CGY – Jimmy Underdahl 1-yard TD run (Johnny Mark convert), 13:03, 34-22 CGY
CGY – Johnny Mark 40-yard FG, 13:58, 37-22 CGY
SASK – Julan Lynch 6-yard TD pass from Kyle Siemens (Sean Stenger convert), 14:45, 37-29 CGY