The Saskatchewan Huskies kicked off their 2016 Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) football campaign with a thrilling 41-39 overtime victory on Friday.
The Dogs were hosting their provincial rivals, the Regina Rams, in front of an announced crowd of 7,735 fans at Griffiths Stadium.
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During Regina’s opening possession, on a third-down gamble, Noah Picton rolled off the pile and rumbled all the way down to the Huskies’ four-yard line to put the Rams in business.
On the next play, running back Atlee Simon scampered into the end zone to give the Rams an early 7-0 lead.
However, Simon’s night would be cut short soon afterward. On a short gain he appeared to roll his right ankle and had to leave the game in obvious discomfort. Simon, who rushed for 938 yards in 2015, did not return.
Saskatchewan trailed until early in the second quarter, when quarterback Kyle Siemens hooked up with Mitch Hillis for an eight-yard touchdown, putting the Dogs on top 11-7.
Each team added a field goal to make the score 14-10 for Saskatchewan at the half.
Regina regained the lead in the opening minute of the third quarter, with Picton taking advantage of a mix-up in the Huskies secondary to find a wide open Khalid Kornegay, who pulled away for an 85-yard touchdown to make the score 17-14 for the visitors.
The Rams QB would continue to pick the Dogs defence apart on the very next series, this time hitting Ryan Schienbein over the middle for a 65-yard major. After Daniel Scraper missed the convert attempt it was 23-14 Regina.
But the Huskies would push back as Kyle Siemens hooked up with a wide-open Chad Braun for a 17-yard touchdown, Braun’s first in the CIS. A Sean Stenger punt single would make it 23-22 Rams heading to the fourth quarter.
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Stenger would then kick a pair of field goals to give the Huskies a 28-23 lead but with under two minutes left, Picton connected with Schienbein for his second touchdown of the game. Regina added a two-point convert to stretch their lead to 31-28.
Once again Kyle Siemens mounted an impressive response, completing a long pass to Yol Piok on 3rd-and-20 to keep the Huskies drive alive, and with no time on the clock, Stenger booted a 21-yard field goal, his fifth of the game, to send the game to overtime tied at 31-31.
After both teams scored touchdowns in the first overtime session, the Huskies held Regina to a single on their second possession to make it 39-38. On Saskatchewan’s next possession, Stenger stepped up yet again and kicked a 10-yard chip shot to end the thriller 41-39.
It was “support the troops” night at Griffiths Stadium, which included a flyby from two of Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornets before kickoff.
Saskatchewan’s next game is on Sept. 9 when they head to to Edmonton to take on the Alberta Golden Bears.