Liam Richards/Huskie Athletics
Game Recap: Football | 9/9/2022 10:40:00 PM | Jeff Sargeant (UBC Communications)
at University of Manitoba
9/16/2022 | 5 p.m. (PT)
Sep. 16 (Fri) / 5 p.m. (PT)
at University of Manitoba
VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds suffered their first loss of the Canada West season Friday night in Saskatoon, dropping a 29-10 decision to the defending Hardy Cup champion Saskatchewan Huskies in front of more than 6000 fans at Griffiths Stadium.
The two teams went to-to-toe for the opening quarter but the No. 2 ranked hosts pulled away, scoring the final three touchdowns of the game while limiting the T-Birds to just a single field goal in the final 45 minutes.
“They just executed at a higher level than we did,” said UBC Head Coach, Blake Nill shortly after the loss. “Initially for the first quarter, maybe a little into the second, I thought we were keeping our share of momentum and then they just pulled away. After a certain point in the second quarter we just weren’t in the game at all.”
For the second straight game, veteran Huskies pivot Mason Nyhus threw for over 350 yards, this time 362 to be precise, along with two touchdowns. UBC starter Garrett Rooker finished the game 17-of-26 for 199 yards.
It took the high flying Huskies all of four plays from kickoff to get into the end zone. After three straight first down passes from Nyhus, Daniel Perry rushed for 12 yards to cross the goal line for the game opening score.
After both teams traded punts, Rooker and the T-Birds offence put on their working boots and got themselves in the red zone with a 32-yard Isaiah Knight rush. Rooker went right back to his star running back who scampered another 18 yards to the end zone for his first touchdown of the season, tying the game 7-7.
?? FB | TOUCHDOWN T-BIRDS!! Isaiah Knight with the 18 yard rush to the end zone and the game is tied 7-7 in the opening quarter #GoBirdsGo pic.twitter.com/jtnWFIurCx
— UBC Thunderbirds (@ubctbirds) September 10, 2022
After re-taking the lead on a short touchdown reception by Ted Kubongo, the Huskies continued to frustrate UBC’s offence while pouring on more of their own as Nyhus executed a perfect 29-yard play-action pass to Rhett Vavra in the middle of the end zone, giving the hosts a 14-point lead midway through the second frame.
Starting the second half with a 16-point deficit, on second-and-long Rooker found third-year receiver Edgerrin Williams for a 22-yard gain and a fresh set of downs at the Saskatchewan 38. But once again, the Huskies’ secondary came up strong as DB Nixen Voll broke up what would have been a big gain into the red zone. Kieran Flannery-Fleck was brought out to attempt a 47-yard field goal and the kicker from Ottawa split the uprights to cut the Huskies lead to 11.
But the Huskies once again rallied right back, getting the ball to the UBC-1 before Ethan Watson punched it in.
With a 19-point lead and 20 minutes to play, Saskatchewan’s defence took control as UBC never got another sniff of the end zone.
Knight ended the game with the lone T-Birds touchdown along with 98 yards rushing. Williams was the top UBC receiver Friday with three receptions for 51 yards.
“We just weren’t able to score when we had opportunities and keep possession of the ball,” added a frustrated Nill. “There were times when I thought we were hanging onto the ball too long, we need to distribute it quickly, especially against a team like that. I think we’re better than that score indicates but now we got to prove it.”
The ‘Birds will get that chance next Friday in Winnipeg as they remain on the road when they face the 0-2 Manitoba Bisons at IG Field.