- No. 7 Saskatchewan's 24-18 win over Simon Fraser in a "Texas shootout" (Clan DB's Nigel Palma's term for the overtime format) lent new appreciation to the word "dénouement," a fancypants French word for the "final unravelling." Speaking of unravelling, the Clan honked three game-winning field-goal attempts in the final 90 seconds of regulation and the overtime. The way Saskatchewan was kind of anticlimactic, but a team cannot be kind of 3-1, either.
In the Huskies' earlier double-OT win over Calgary, the Dinos had a last-minute time-count violation wipe out their potential winning field goal. Saskatchewan is good and lucky. The Clan had a 445-269 edge in total offence, but the flubbed field goals and lost fumbles tipped the scales to the Huskies.
- Since no stats are kept in overtime, Saskatchewan (3-1) has been outscored 74-55 on the season.
- Mount Allison's Matt Pickett had 116 yards in a losing cause for the Mounties vs. Saint Mary's, which won 47-18. When was the last time a Mount A running back went for 100 vs. SMU?
No. 7 Saskatchewan 24, Simon Fraser 18 (2OT) — Huskies tailback Tyler O'Gorman dashed 31 yards for the decider on the second possession of overtime, punctuating a character win by the Huskies and forehead-smacking loss by Simon Fraser.
Each defence deserved a tip of the cap. The Huskies came up with a fumble recovery late in the third quarter which set up a tying 43-yard field goal by Grant Shaw, who was 3-for-3 on a chilly night. Simon Fraser gave its offence every opportunity to win, with Fraser Waldron making a fourth-quarter interception and Palma making an INT on the first series of the shootout.
The Huskies (see HFO's recap) are still sporadic on offence. QB Laurence Nixon played a decent game, although he was below 50% passing. Nixon did run a good two-minute drill at the end of the first half to pick up a big field goal.
It's not hard to see why Huskies fans are frustrated. It seemed like there was this paradigm running play that would occur about once a series, where O'Gorman (who did seem to give them a lift, rushing 21 times for 88 yards in regulation for a decent 4.2 averagee) would get it on a draw and basically be expected to carve his own hole. At one point, he actually ended up lateraling to Nixon, who was dumped for a 10-yard loss.
In the overtime, Palma's pick presaged a frustrating sequence from Simon Fraser, which has lost three in a row. All the Clan needed was a single after Nixon was intercepted. The probability of a team winning when it takes over on the 35-yard line, playing at home, in a tie game is probably very high. The Clan played it conservatively, netted seven yards from two plays and kicker Jason Cook, who was 3-for-6 on the night, was wide left.
The crazy part was Simon Fraser's offence came right back and picked up 43 yards on the first two snaps of the second OT (the order of possession changes), both pass plays, after a penalty on the missed field goal moved it back to the 50.
This is not a second-guess, but you do see writers wonder why teams load up with bulky blockers in short-yardage situations. It might play into the defence's hands, since their biggest players and best tackles have a more confined area to cover. On that second-and-1, having just sliced up Saskatchewan's secondary, SFU came out in a three-back set and Brandon Halverson was stopped cold. After a time-count penalty, Cook's 18-yard attempt was blocked (it looked like the protection just broke down and Saskatchewan collapsed the interior of the line).
Not to play coach, but in that second-and-1, why not try to use the speed of tailback Gabe Ephard (13 rushes for 83 yards) or QB Bernd Dittrich (10 for 82, including the lone Clan touchdown) to get the ball out on the perimeter?
Saskatchewan's defence was bend-but-don't-break, but it felt more like Simon Fraser left points on the field. An X-factor was that return ace Jeff Thompson, who had an early fumble and might have been hurt, was not used on returns from the second quarter on, with SFU going through punt returners like extras in a Jet Li movie.
Thompson's absence played a part in a safety Simon Fraser surrendered in the first half. On a Huskies punt, the substitute returner's knee touched the turf as he made the catch at the 24-yard line. A bad option pitch on the ensuing first-and-10 led to a 14-yard loss, putting the Clan in a situation where they had to give up two points, which loomed large later. A clean catch and a decent return and that never happens.
Simon Fraser (2-3) closes with Regina, UBC and Manitoba, so the playoffs are still a possibility.
No. 9 Saint Mary's 47, Mount Allison 18 — The eastern Huskies started slowly, but Jack Creighton got his passing wing warmed up and finished 23-of-33 for 438 yards, with Jahmeek Murray and Carl Hardwick each enjoying 100-yard receiving nights.
Aggressive coaching deserves to be acknowledged. Saint Mary's went for an onside kick just 1:20 into the third quarter after a Creighton-to-Hardwick touchdown. A procedure penalty wiped out a recovery, but after Mount Allison clanked a short field goal on the ensuing drive, the Huskies went on a 90-yard drive to effectively blow the game open.
Mount A running back Matt Pickett rushed 21 times for 116 yards, so there was one positive for the outmanned Mounties (0-4). It's been a while since the Mounties had a 100-yard rusher against the Huskies.