WINNIPEG – The University of Saskatchewan Huskies held off a third quarter charge by the No. 10 ranked University of Manitoba Bisons for a 44-23 win to start the 2017 Canada West football season Friday night at Winnipeg’s Investors Group Field.


Saskatchewan held a 21-point lead heading into the final half. The Bisons found their offensive stride scoring 17 unanswered points in the third quarter to pull within three entering the final 15 minutes.


Running back Jamel Lyles got the Manitoba unanswered scoring run started with a four-yard dash into the end zone at 8:57, just over two minutes later Theo Deezar connected with Shai Ross on a 30-yard touchdown pass. The Bisons’ closed the quarter with a Brad Mikoluff 46-yard field goal.


But Saskatchewan’s defence forced a two-and-out to start the fourth quarter and the Huskies never looked back. The Huskies added a Sean Stenger 22-yard field goal, a 16-yard Evan Kopchynski touchdown and a nine-yard Chad Braun touchdown in the final frame to seal the win.


It is the first win for Saskatchewan in Winnipeg in three seasons and the first in new Huskies’ head coach Scott Flory’s career.


The Huskies opened the scoring quickly in the game when Kyle Siemens connected with Kopchynski on a 28-yard pass just 3:04 in.


Manitoba hit two field goals in the second quarter, but the rest of the offence was Saskatchewan.  Stenger hit field goals from 21-yards and 12-yards, while Mitch Hillis and Siemens added majors for the Huskies for the 27-6 lead at half.


Fourth-year Siemens was masterful in the game completing 31-of-40 passes for 419 yards and four touchdowns.  He connected with fifth-year receiver Hillis for 120 yards and Kopchynski for another 92. Colton Klassen led the Huskies’ on the ground with 136 yards.


Ben Whiting was strong defensively for the Huskies tallying five tackles, one forced fumble and one breakup. Brad Kotania led the team in tackles with seven, while Brooks Falloon added another six.


Manitoba quarterback Deezar completed 18-of-31 passes for 215 yards and one touchdown. Ross led the receiving corps with 74 yards and Lyles led the Bisons on the ground with 81-yards.


Brock Gowanlock led the Bisons defensively with nine tackles and one sack.  James Mau added another 6.5 tackles for the team.


Saskatchewan hosts the Alberta Golden Bears in the Alumni Association Homecoming Game September 8 at Griffiths Stadium in PotashCorp Park, while Manitoba travels to Vancouver to meet the UBC Thunderbirds.