Cameron Doherty, Huskie Athletics
LONDON, Ont. – An outstanding 2018 season that saw the University of Saskatchewan Huskies football team advance the furthest they have in 12 years came to an end after a 47-24 loss at the hands of the Western Mustangs in the Mitchell Bowl Saturday.
It was a 17-17 at the halftime break, but in the end the Canada West champion Huskies weren't able to keep up in the second half with the reigning Vanier Cup champion Mustangs, who will now advance to play for the national championship against the Laval Rouge et Or in a rematch of last season's title game.
"We had a coulpe lapses and they are a very good football team. We have to give all the credit to them for the way they fought," said Huskies head coach Scott Flory. "I'm just so proud of our guys, especially the fifth-years, they have given everything to this program."
Fifth-year pivot Kyle Siemens threw for 256 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 26-for-35 passing. Colton Klassen caught both of those touchdowns and finished the game with 287 all-purpose yards.
Tyler Chow finished his Huskies career with another strong game on the ground, gaining 143 yards on 21 carries, including a 71-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Defensively Bowan Lewis led the way with 7.5 tackles, while Tristian Koronkiewicz sacked the quarterback twice in the final game of his Huskies career.
Saskatchewan started the game quickly on both offence and defence.
After forcing a quick two-and-out from the Mustangs on the first drive of the game, the offence went to work.
Tyler Chow gained 27 yards on three-straight carries and after a clutch third-down dive from Nyhus kept the drive going, Siemens connected with Klassen from 22 yards out to put the first points of the game up on the board.
Western would respond two drives later after recovering a botched hand-off at the Huskies 33.
The Mustangs needed just two plays to make the visitors pay when Chris Merchant connected with Harry McMaster for the score.
The next three drives of the game would end in punts with the defence on both teams holding firm, including an outstanding pass break-up from Bowan Lewis to force a Mustangs punt and send the teams into the halftime break with the score 7-7.
Western would strike next however, with Merchant again throwing two quick strikes for the major capped off by a 31-yard pass to McMaster, allowing the hosts to take their first lead of the game.
Saskatchewan found an answer on the very next drive.
Klassen got the momentum back with a 37-yard return right from the Western kickoff.
Siemens shone on the drive, completing three-straight passes to Jesse Kuntz for 14 yards and then back-to-back to Joey Trumpy for gains of 14 and 8.
The forward momentum would stall for the Huskies however and Sean Stenger came out onto the field to knock through a 41-yard field and bring the game back to within four.
After the Huskies defence came up with another big stop, Saskatchewan would retake the lead through the Siemens to Klassen connection once again.
A shovel pass from Siemens to Klassen saw the third-year rumble for 25 yards. Just two plays later Siemens hit Klassen again over the middle for the eight-yard score to make the game 17-14 in favour of Saskatchewan.
Strong defence marked the remainder of the second quarter but the Mustangs managed to pull together a long drive at the end of the half that ended in a field to send the teams into the halftime break tied at 17-17.
Western came out for the second half on fire and a four-yard touchdown run from Merchant combined with a solid defensive stand that forced the Huskies to take a safety made the score 26-17 for Western.
While Saskatchewan closed the gap to 33-24 5:04 into the fourth when Tyler Chow broke a run of over 50 yards for pay dirt, the deficit proved to be too much for Saskatchewan, as Western added two late majors to earn the 47-24 victory.