Ben Matchett; Dinos Communications
CALGARY – After a wild third quarter pulled the visitors within two points, the third-ranked University of Calgary Dinos scored 21 unanswered in the fourth to emerge with a 51-28 win over the No. 10 Saskatchewan Huskies Saturday afternoon at McMahon Stadium.
After the Huskies had scored two touchdowns in 56 seconds in the waning moments of the third quarter to make the score 30-28, Jeshrun Antwi scored an eight-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter to give the Dinos some breathing room. An impressive 60-yard punt return TD by freshman Deane Leonard put the game away, and Michael Klukas' second major of the night iced it late as the Dinos improved their record to 4-0 at the midway point of the 2017 season.
"I think our experience came through at the end," said Dinos Head Coach Wayne Harris. "We knew it would be a back-and-forth, tough game, and that Saskatchewan was going to battle all the way through. You need to take advantage of your opportunities when you get them – we didn't do that as much in the first half, but we were able to later. When you're scoring defensive and special teams points, that always helps."
The game featured plenty of turnovers, with five interceptions and a trio of fumbles between the two sides. Boston Rowe got his second defensive touchdown in as many weeks with a pick-six midway through the third for the Dinos, a score that turned out to be the winning points. The Dinos managed to score 15 points off turnovers, against the Huskies' 10.
The Dinos pulled starting quarterback Adam Sinagra after he was picked off for the second time in the game by Saskatchewan's Payton Hall late in the third, leading to the Huskies' second touchdown in that short span. Josiah Joseph came on in relief to lead the Dinos through the fourth, completing 11 of 13 passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns.
"It was really just to settle Adam down," explained Harris. "He was trying to force the ball a little too much and make the big play. We have lots of confidence in Josiah, we know he can come in there and perform well, and that's what he did."
Kyle Siemens threw the ball up often for Saskatchewan, tossing 48 passes and connecting 21 times with his receivers – led by Mitch Hillis' 140 yards on just six catches. Siemens finished with 281 passing yards, but it could have been significantly more as he just missed connecting with his target twice in the second half on plays where the receiver had found space in the Calgary defence. One of those overthrows, intended for Colton Klassen, could have changed the game: with Klassen behind the Calgary defence early in the fourth and the game still just a two-point Calgary lead, the Siemens pass sailed over the receiver's head. On the next play, Calgary's Adam Laurensse intercepted Siemens, setting up the Antwi touchdown.
For his part, Klassen picked up 88 yards and two touchdowns along the ground, along with 49 receiving yards and another 23 on kickoff return for a total of 160 all-purpose yards.
For the Dinos, Klukas' touchdowns came in the final minute of each half. On the last play of the second quarter, he caught a two-yard Joseph pass to give the Dinos a 22-8 edge at the half, and he stretched out in the back of the end zone to haul in a 21-yard toss from Joseph with 41 seconds left in the game. Along with Karl, who scored the game's first TD in the opening quarter, Klukas leads the conference with five touchdown catches on the season.
The Dinos dominated the ground game with 29 rushes for 210 yards compared to just 91 for the Huskies. Calgary's defence held the Huskies to just 363 total yards, led by Micah Teitz with six tackles, while Boston Rowe added 4.5. Cory Robinson had a solid day for the Calgary defence as well, picking up both of the team's sacks on Siemens. On the Saskatchewan side, Brooks Falloon had a busy day with 10.5 tackles in a losing cause.
Calgary (4-0) has a short week to prepare for a first-place battle with the UBC Thunderbirds (3-1) next Friday night in Vancouver, the teams' only meeting of the season. Saskatchewan (2-2) hosts Regina (2-2) in a key provincial battle, also next Friday night.
Photo by David Moll