By Ryan Watters (CJFL Media) With Photos From Erich Eichhorn (ISN)
November 11, 2012, Langley, BC – The Saskatoon Hilltops completed the “three-peat” after their come from behind 23-21 victory over the Langley Rams in the 2012 Canadian Bowl on Saturday afternoon.
It’s the Hilltops 16th Canadian National Championship in 66 years and third in a row.
After a scoreless first quarter the Rams would break the tie first just 1:36 into the second quarter as Greg Bowcott hooked up with Malcolm Williams on a 16-yard strike.
QB Matt Karpinka hands off the ball to RB Andre LaLonde – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
The Hilltops would come right back on their next drive finished off by Zach Schmidt and an 18 yard field goal. Eight minutes later Schmidt again would kick a field goal, this time from 32 yards out to bring the defending champs within one.
Before the end of the half Bowcott would connect with Michael Patko for a 73-yard catch and run for a touchdown. The lengthy receiver broke two tackles to find the end zone with 2:18 to go in the second quarter.
#22 Jaleel Barrett almost had this pick, but would be stolen by the Hilltops defender for the reception – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
At halftime the Rams led the Hilltops 14-6.
Four minutes into the third quarter Rams’ running back Daniel Xavier would punch it in from a yard out to extend the Rams lead to 21-6.
On their next possession Nick Downey of the Rams fumbled and completely changed the momentum of the game. Mike Waldron recovered the fumble and returned it to the five-yard line. On the next play Andre Lalonde would scamper into the end zone to bring the score to 21-13.
#4 Tanner Hamade would be a thorn in the Hilltops side with 2 interceptions on the afternoon. Tanner couldn’t make it three on this play – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
Then in the fourth, Schmidt would connect on his third field goal of the game, hitting from 30 yards out.
The comeback from the Hilltops was completed when quarterback Matt Karpinka found Graham Unruh for a 40-yard catch and run for a touchdown. It was the Hilltops first lead of the game, one they would not relinquish.
Unruh would make six catches for a game high 208 yards and a major. He would be named the Offensive Player of the Game. Jon Trumpy would add three catches for 47 yards.
#4 Tanner Hamade would pick off the long ball here denying a Hilltops huge gain – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
Karpinka finished six of 23 for 123 yards and a score, and threw two interceptions. He would platoon with rookie Andreychuk who finished four of 11 for 69 yards.
On the ground Andre Lalonde fought for 112 yards on 23 carries. Andreychuk added six rushes for 47 yards.
Defensively the Toppers were led by the Defensive Player of the Game Dylan Kemp. He would tie a Canadian Bowl record with 11 solo tackles. PFC Defensive Player of the Year Ben Cressman finished with five solo tackles and had an interception. All-Canadian Donovan Dale had four tackles and the only two sacks the Hilltops would record. Waldron would add an interception.
Rams RB Kyle Albertini runs for gain up-field – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
The Hilltops 16th national championship moves them one head of the Regina Rams for most national titles in Canadian Junior Football League history.
Rams quarterback Greg Bowcott would finish 17 of 29 for 198 yards and throw two touchdowns. He would find six different receivers including Dylan McDermid who caught a game high seven passes for 46 yards. Patko hauled in three passes for 105 yards.
A Hilltop player climbs a ladder to pull down this pass – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )
On the ground the Rams were led by Kyle Albertini who carried the ball 14 times for 93 yards. Downey rushed five times for 31 yards.
Linebacker Arie Nakagawa was the best Ram on the field with five tackles and the only sack of the game. Joe Patko also had five tackles. The Rams would force four turnovers as Tanner Hamade picked off two passes while Carlo Graziano had an interception in the end zone. Nick Felicella recovered a fumble.
The Rams fall to 0-2 in Canadian Bowl games in franchise history.
Mat Leung raises the Canadian Bowl trophy in celebration of his teams win – Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )