The UBC Thunderbirds could not repeat their regular season upset of the Saskatchewan Huskies on the biggest day on the Canada West calendar, as the defending Hardy Cup champions broke out of an early slump to hang on to their title by a score of 23-8.
The visiting UBC defence held the Huskies to three field goals in the red zone throughout the first half, before running back Lucas Mastrodomenico plunged in for the game’s first major with 30 seconds remaining in the half to make it 9-7 at the break. The Thunderbirds would not find the end zone again, as Saskatchewan’s defence sealed the door the rest of the way.
The Huskies finally found the end zone on the final play of the third quarter, when conference MVP Mason Nyhus found receiver Jordin Rusnack with an eight-yard touchdown pass. From there the defence took over, with Finn Marcotte-Cribb perfectly reading a pass made by UBC quarterback Derek Engel from his own end zone and racing in for a pick-six mid-way through the fourth quarter.
It was a quick outing for the Hec Crighton favourite Nyhus, as he completed 22-of-28 passes for 232 yards, one touchdown and one interception to finish his collegiate career undefeated when playing at Griffiths Stadium in Saskatoon. Running back Ryker Frank carried the load offensively, rushing 23 times for 63 yards and adding eight catches for 70 more. Nixen Voll also added an interception, while Seth Hundeby notched 7.5 tackles and a sack while swallowing up UBC’s vaunted ground game.
The Huskies will now travel to Antigonish, Nova Scotia for the national semi-final, where they’ll take on the undefeated AUS champion St FX X-Men in the Uteck Bowl.