SASKATOON – An illegal block call overturned what would have been the game-winning touchdown for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies on Saturday night, as the UBC Thunderbirds survived a late push to claim a 29-25 victory at Griffiths Stadium in PotashCorp Park.
Down 29-9 entering the final 10 minutes of the game, Saskatchewan scored 16 unanswered to pull within four with one-minute remaining. Huskies' quarterback Kyle Siemens found Chad Braun on a 33-yard touchdown pass with five seconds left on the block, but the illegal block call on Saskatchewan negated the major. The Huskies' hail-mary attempt was intercepted by Alex Morrison to seal the win.
With the victory, the No. 7 ranked T-Birds improve to 4-2 and clinches a Canada West playoff spot. Saskatchewan drops to 4-2 on the season.
A UBC safety put Saskatchewan up 2-0 after the first quarter before the T-Birds finally broke through, with Michael O'Connor finding Alex Morrison for a 35-yard touchdown at 5:49 in the second quarter to put the Thunderbirds up 7-2.
UBC's defence in the end zone stopped a Huskies' bid for the lead in the final minute of the second half when Malcolm Lee intercepted Siemens in the end zone. Morrison nabbed his second major of the game with just 11 seconds left in the first half on a 25-yard pass from O'Connor for the 14-2 halftime lead.
UBC quickly took a 19-point lead to start the third quarter, forcing the Huskies on a two-and-out and scoring on a two-play drive. O'Connor found Trivel Pinto for a 40 yard nabbed and followed it up with a pass to J.J. DesLauriers for the 21-2 lead. A Saskatchewan safety gave UBC a 21-point lead late in the third.
Saskatchewan had thought they had their first major when Braun ran back a punt return for an 82-yard touchdown, but the play was called back on a Huskies' offside with under two minutes to play in the third quarter.
The Huskies finally found the end zone two minutes into the fourth frame. Siemens found Yol Piok for a 44-yard catch before Samuel Baker scored the major on an eight-yard pass at 13:45. But the Thunderbirds answered back on the next drive scoring on an O'Connor six-yard dash into the end zone.
Finley Easton started the Huskies' 16 point run with a 13-yard touchdown at 6:28. Piok scored three minutes later on a 33-yard pass from Siemens. UBC surrendered another safety for the Huskies to be within four.
O'Connor finished the night 37-for-51 for 466-yards and three touchdowns. Pinto was his main target on the night making 13 catches for 156 yards, while Morrison had 99 yards and two touchdowns.
Siemens completed 26-of-47 passes for 310 yards and three touchdowns for the Huskies. Yol Piok tallied 85-yards on three catches, while Baker had 63 on eight receptions.
Malcolm Lee led the T-Birds defensively with 5.5 tackles, one interception and two breakups, while a trio of Huskies – Ben Whiting, Nelson Lokombo and Brooks Falloon - each tallied seven tackles in the game. Payton Hall had two interceptions on the night.
Saskatchewan travels to Edmonton to meet the Alberta Golden Bears next weekend, while the T-Birds face the Manitoba Bisons in Winnipeg.