Friday, September 10, 2010

T-Birds upset #2 Huskies

The visiting UBC Thunderbirds capitalized on six turnovers to upset the No. 2 ranked University of Saskatchewan Huskies 31-12 Friday in Saskatoon’s Griffiths Stadium in PotashCorp Park.

Turnovers came on strong defensive play by the T-Birds blocking one field goal, recovering four fumbles and nabbing one interception. Each time UBC was able to score at least a field goal earning 16 points off the turnovers.

“We weren’t ready for this game,” said Huskie head coach Brian Towriss. “The turnovers hurt us but credit goes to UBC for making us pay for our mistakes and playing a tough road game.”

It is the first win for the T-Birds over the Huskies since a 2000 44-21 win. Since 1998, UBC has only beat the Huskies four times including Friday’s win. Other wins came 30-24 in 1999 and 13-11 in 1998. All four of those wins have come in Griffiths Stadium. The loss is also the first at home in a regular season game since 2007 when the Rams won 34-31 in the final game of the season.

The Huskies found themselves in scoring position on their first two possessions of the game but rookie kicker Denton Kolodzinski missed two field goal attempts from 37-yards and 34-yards. One field goal resulted in a single point.

From there, UBC took over defensively and was able to find offence on the strength of kicker Billy Pavlopoulos’ leg. The second-year kicker found the uprights five times in the game.

UBC got on the board after a fumble by Huskie Travis Gorski on his own six-yard line after a Pavlopoulos missed field goal. UBC needed just one play – a six-yard pass to Spencer Betts from quarterback Billy Greene to make the game 7-1 at 7:01 in the first quarter.

The Huskies got the next points in the game scoring on a 19-yard Kolodzinski field goal at 8:45. UBC quickly answered back when Greene found Ryan Couper in the end zone after a seven play, 72 yard drive at 1:42 in the second quarter. UBC added more just one possession later when Jeff Effah recovered a block punt on the Huskies 24 yard line. Pavlopoulos made the game 17-4 with a good 42-yard field goal with 17 seconds in the second quarter.

After another Saskatchewan rouge, Pavlopoulos found the uprights again this time from 35-yards out with 9:55 left in the third frame. He again hit another field goal from 30-yards at 11:04 in the fourth quarter after a safety to make the game 25-5 in favour of the T-Birds. The 30-yard field goal came after a Trent Peterson fumble on his own 27-yard line.

Saskatchewan finally found the end zone with a Mitch Stevens nine-yard touchdown with 8:06 left in the final frame to bring the game within 13 points. But UBC didn’t let the comeback last long marching down the field and kicking a 19-yard field goal with 4:39 in the game. He added his fifth from 35-yards out to make the final 31-12 with no time left on the clock.

UBC’s Greene completed 15-of-29 passes in the game for 163 yards two touchdowns and one interception. Dave Boyd led his team on the ground with 115 yards on 24 carries. Spencer Betts and Victor Marshall led T-Bird receivers with 45 and 44 yards respectively.

Huskies starting quarterback Laurence Nixon completed 12-of-23 passes for 108 yards before being pulled near the end of the third quarter in favour of backup Peterson. Peterson finished out the game 7-for-11 with one touchdown pass, however, UBC was able to sack him four times. Receiver Rory Kohlert led with seven receptions and 64 yards for the Huskies, while running back Ben Coakwell finished with 104 yards on 16 carries.

Defensively, UBC shone with six sacks on the night. Linebacker Nathan Kanya led the way with nine tackles – seven of those solo – and two sacks. Mark Bailey followed with five tackles. Zach Hart led the way for the Huskies with 7.5 tackles, followed by Bryce McCall and Keenan MacDougall with five apiece.

Both the Huskies and T-Birds now sit at 1-1 in the standings. The University of Calgary Dinos and the University of Regina Rams also sit with the same record after a 24-21 Dinos victory Friday night. The University of Alberta Golden Bears and University of Manitoba Bisons face off Saturday afternoon, if Manitoba wins all teams in the Canada West will have a 1-1 record.

The Huskies will hit the road in Week 3 to take on provincial foe the University of Regina Rams Saturday, September 18 in Mosaic Stadium. UBC returns home to host the University of Manitoba Bisons on the same day at Thunderbird Stadium.

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