VANCOUVER – Turnovers proved to be the difference as the No. 8 Saskatchewan Huskies surrendered possession of the ball four times en route to a 20-10 loss to the UBC Thunderbirds at Thunderbird Stadium Friday night.
It was all about takeaways for the T-Birds who improved to 3-3 on the season largely thanks to a young defensive secondary that came up big when it counted most with three second half red zone takeaways to frustrate the Huskies who fell to 3-3 on the campaign.
Colton Klassen caught seven balls for 127 yards and added his league-leading seventh receiving touchdown of the season, helping the Huskies out-gain UBC 454 yards to 359 in the game.
The T-Birds enjoyed a quick start right from the opening kickoff thanks to receiver Trivel Pinto’s slashing 63 yard return up the right sideline before being taken down in Saskatchewan territory. With favorable field position to work with, UBC quarterback Michael O’Connor led the offence on a six play 40-yard scoring drive that was appropriately capped off by an 11-yard Pinto touchdown reception and an early 7-0 lead.
The Huskies responded by moving the ball to the T-Birds 44-yard line where they set up for their first points of the contest but Sean Stenger just barely pushed the field goal attempt wide right and it was time for Pinto to shine once again. Pinto broke out for another spirited return, this time scampering for 68-yards before being tackled at the Huskies 42-yard line. Saskatchewan’s defence would hold strong however as UBC would settle for a 43-yard Greg Hutchins field goal to increase their lead to 10-0.
Ahead of closing out the first quarter Huskies quarterback Kyle Siemens would lead the visitors on a six-play drive totalling 55-yards into UBC territory that resulted in a 27-yard Stenger field goal cutting the T-Birds lead to 10-3.
The second quarter turned into a battle of field possession without much scoring, but UBC was able to hit a long field goal to restore the 10-point lead. UBC had the scoring edge while Saskatchewan had the edge in total offence in the opening half with 172 total yards compared to 163 for UBC.
The Huskies started the second half efficiently. Embarking upon a seven play 82-yard drive to start the third-quarter that was capped off by a sneaky shovel pass from Nyhus to slotback Klassen who swung around the left side and ran 30-yards for a touchdown cutting the lead 13-10.
Shortly thereafter Nyhus moved the Huskies into UBC territory once again but the end zone pass was picked off by ‘Birds defensive back Payton Lagrange to end the scoring threat.
UBC would hold onto their slim 13-10 lead into the fourth quarter and add to it early in the proceedings as O’Connor led the ‘Birds on a 10 play 85-yard drive that was finished off by a 30-yard toss and touchdown run to slotback Liam Wishart. It gave the T-Birds some breathing room and a 20-10 advantage.
Midway through the fourth quarter Saskatchewan moved the ball into T-Birds territory with a nice 35 hook-up from Nyhus to receiver Finley Easton who caught the ball in traffic at the UBC 15-yard line.
Points eluded the Huskies again however, when a turnover gave the ball back to the T-Birds and effectively ended the game.