Huskies heartbreak: Dinos hold on for dramatic football win

Dinos 39, Huskies 38

Scott McHenry crouched on the sideline, averted his eyes and listened for a verdict from the crowd Saturday afternoon at Griffiths Stadium.

“I heard silence,” the University of Saskatchewan Huskies slotback said later. With that silence came the end of his university football career.

Huskies placekicker Grant Shaw missed a 35-yard field-goal attempt with nine seconds to play, giving the visiting Calgary Dinos a 39-38 victory and the Canada West conference football championship. They play Saint Mary’s on Saturday in the Uteck Bowl national semifinal in Halifax

Shaw was 5-for-5 in field goals Saturday, and 25-of-30 on the season, before stepping into the last-grasp attempt. Holder Trevor Barss appeared to have trouble gripping the snap and he put the ball down just in time for Shaw to shank a low line drive that was returned out of the end zone. That miss capped a 12-play, 49-yard Huskie drive after Calgary quarterback Erik Glavic scored on a four-yard touchdown run with 12:57 to play.

Shaw declined comment after the game, which was witnessed by a sellout crowd of 5,163.

“I was standing on the sidelines praying,” said Glavic, who — despite throwing for 479 yards and rushing for 106 more — could only watch as his fate was decided. “Grant Shaw’s a great kicker, and to be totally honest, we were prepping to go on the field again and pull out a couple of Hail Mary’s. I wasn’t expecting that (miss). But I was praying to God it was going to happen, and it did. An amazing feeling.”

Both teams were 8-1 entering the game, with Calgary ranked second in the nation and Saskatchewan third. Their only previous meeting was a 34-33 overtime Huskies’ victory on opening day.

Shaw’s teammates and coaches jumped to his defence in the game’s aftermath, pointing out other moments that could have turned the game’s tide. Calgary head coach Blake Nill also expressed sympathy.

“You have to feel bad for the kid, which I do,” Nill said. “He kicked the hell out of the ball today. Going into that field goal, he was 5-for-5, his punting was outstanding, his kickoffs were outstanding. I don’t know what happened on that last (attempt). It was quite something.”

The Huskies also regretted a costly miscommunication late in the third quarter. They were second-and-goal from the Calgary one-yard line and the call from the bench was for a quarterback sneak. But signals got crossed and quarterback Laurence Nixon inexplicably lined up in shotgun formation for a pass attempt that failed. The Huskies settled for an eight-yard field goal that gave them a 29-22 lead.

Calgary’s Richard Snyder scored on a 60-yard touchdown reception two minutes later, tying the game at 29 and setting up a wild fourth quarter that included:

A conceded safety that gave Saskatchewan a 31-29 lead;

A 10-yard Braeden George touchdown to put the Huskies up 38-29 with 10:08 to play;

An 18-yard field-goal by Calgary’s Aaron Ifield;

Glavic’s four-yard touchdown run with 2:03 to play;

Saskatchewan’s clutch drive into field-goal range and the fateful final play.

“It was a helluva game,” said an emotional Glavic. “I’m sure these (fans) got their money’s worth. They’re going home unhappy, but that was my goal.”

“We talked about it earlier in the week,” said McHenry, who exhausted his eligibility Saturday. “We said it was going to be a heavyweight fight and it was going to come down to one or two plays, and it did. Unfortunately, they made the plays and we didn’t. Now, it’s over, and there’s nothing we can do.”

Glavic, the Canada West MVP, completed 28 of 36 passes for 479 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Snyder caught seven balls for 222 yards and two majors against a Huskies’ defence missing standout safety Bryce McCall to an ankle injury.

Nixon went blow-for-blow with Glavic; the Huskies’ quarterback hit 24 of 35 passes for 422 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Rory Kohlert caught five balls for 166 yards and Braeden George added five for 104.

Huskies tailback Tyler O’Gorman, playing with a broken hand, ran 24 times for 162 yards. He played almost the entire game after fellow tailback Jeff Hassler’s troublesome ankle felt increasingly uncomfortable during warmups. Hassler didn’t practise until Friday because of the flu.

“That (Calgary) offence is very hard to stop,” said Huskies linebacker Taylor Wallace. “It took everything we had to try and contain them and they still put up a lot of points. Our offence played a heck of a game today and matched them stride for stride, but it’s a one-point game. That’s the way it goes sometimes.”

Saskatchewan also got a 37-yard touchdown reception from Kohlert and a blocked punt from Keenan MacDougall that he scooped up and ran 20 yards for a major. Shaw booted field goals of 27, 37, 38, 40 and eight yards.

Anthony Parker scored on a 19-yard touchdown pass for the Dinos, who also got a 14-yard TD reception from Snyder and a 10-yard touchdown run from Matt Walter.

While the Dinos prepare for Halifax, the Huskies ponder a journey they’ll never take. McHenry, who will make a run at professional career next season, had a final pep talk with teammates in the locker-room following the game.

“I told them never let this happen to you again,” McHenry recalled. “I said to take that feeling with you. I’ve had it a couple of times now and it is not a good feeling. You never want to let it happen again, so do whatever you have to do now to make sure it doesn’t happen.”

Source: The Star Phoenix

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