SASKATOON – The University of Saskatchewan Huskies overcame a slow start to down the Alberta Golden Bears 43-17 in their home opener at Griffiths Stadium in PotashCorp Park Friday night.
Saskatchewan moves to 2-0 on the young season, one week after handing Manitoba a 44-23 loss in Winnipeg. Alberta drops to 0-2 after losing their opener 55-26 to the defending Hardy Cup Champion Calgary Dinos in Week 1.
Fourth-year quarterback Kyle Siemens was named the Player of the Game for the Huskies after completing five touchdown passes, three short of the Huskies' record set in 1994. Siemens finished the game with 271 passing yards on 19-for-27 passing.
The final stats slanted heavily in Alberta's favour, with the Bears rushing for 324 yards and finishing with 487 total yards to their name. The Golden Bears controlled possession for the majority of the game, finishing with 36:39 minutes compared to Saskatchewan's 23:19.
"It doesn't feel like a 43-17 win," said Flory. "They controlled the ball in the first half. On the sidelines we kept preaching patience. The offence didn't sustain drives in the first quarter, we have to stay on the field and help our defence out with that."
Alberta had their running game going early, rushing for 74 yards in the first quarter — 40 more yards than the Huskies had in total offence. But they were not able to find the endzone, and Saskatchewan battled back to make it 14-6 at halftime.
The Huskies relied on Siemens in the first half, as he went 8-for-11 for a total of 104 passing yards. Siemens found Colton Klassen for the game's first touchdown 15 minutes in before connecting with a familiar face in Mitch Hillis 9:50 into the second quarter.
Hillis finished the game with a pair of touchdowns for the Huskies, cashing in again in the fourth quarter. Both scores required a bit of creativity from the All-Canadian receiver, who broke a number of tackles on the way to his first touchdown and juggled the ball on his second.
Siemens shared the ball all night. Klassen, Chad Braun, Evan Kopchynski and Yol Piok each received their fair share of action, finishing with 26, 47, 53, and 31 yards receiving, respectively. For his part, Hillis finished with 61 yards on a pair catches—both for touchdowns.
While the Huskies found themselves leaning on their passing game, the Golden Bears pushed their agenda on the ground. The same team that had 324 passing yards and 107 rushing yards in their opener against Calgary ran for 324 yards on Friday while passing for just 168.
Ed Ilnicki shouldered the majority of those rushes, getting the ball 26 times and taking it for a total of 199 yards. Teammate Aundrey Webster got the ball 11 times, running an average of 5.5 yards to finish the night with 61 rushing yards.
The Golden Bears travel to meet the Regina Rams next weekend, while Saskatchewan is in Vancouver to face off with the UBC Thunderbirds.