2016 Canada Cup: Sask captures U18 Banjo Bowl in defensive battle over Manitoba
Written by Nolan Kowal, Special to Football Canada
Photo credit: Glenn Dickson
Prairie rivals renewed hostilities on opening night of the 2016 Football Canada Cup, with Saskatchewan beating Manitoba Gold 11-0 at Investors Group Field.
Both offences struggled in the first half. Manitoba had a chance to take the lead early after quarterback Andreas Dueck connected with wide receiver Abdul-Karim Gassama who was brought down near the Saskatchewan 20-yard line. However, Manitoba fumbled on the very next play and turned the ball over.
Saskatchewan got on the scoreboard first in the second quarter thanks to a 29-yard field goal by receiver David Solie. The scoring drive was aided by a questionable pass interference call on Manitoba defensive back Joshua Robinson.
Manitoba looked to respond, but a bad exchange between Dueck and running back Kaeden Corrie resulted in another turnover deep in Manitoba territory. It appeared Dueck wanted to pull the ball away from Corrie on a play fake, but the pigskin hit the turf and was promptly recovered by Saskatchewan. This set up another Solie field goal, this time from 11 yards out.
There was more miscommunication between Dueck and Corrie on Manitoba’s next drive. The quarterback turned to hand the ball off but Corrie had run the other way. Saskatchewan defensive lineman Bryce Liwiski then sacked Dueck in the end zone.
“The quarterback turned the wrong way,” Manitoba head coach Donald Burrell said after the game. “We’ve got to get over that play and move on. That’s how they got the two points.”
The safety extended Saskatchewan’s lead to 8-0 as the teams headed to their respective locker rooms for halftime.
The visitors dominated the time of possession in the third quarter, and Solie added another field goal to make the score 11-0 going into the fourth quarter.
Saskatchewan had a chance to put the game away midway through the final quarter. But a string of penalties stymied a promising looking drive and pushed the ball back out near midfield. Saskatchewan quarterback Josh Donnelly then had a pass intercepted by Manitoba defensive back Chase Ellingson, who made a great jump on the ball. It was a throw that Donnelly likely wanted back.
Manitoba then moved the ball efficiently down to the Saskatchewan 26 yard-line. But Saskatchewan’s defence dug in and Dueck was sacked by defensive lineman Tanner Schmekel for a 12-yard loss.
In a desperate attempt to get back in the game, Manitoba elected to try a fake punt on third down and long. The pass was completed, but the ball was spotted just inches short of a first down, resulting in yet another Manitoba turnover.
On Manitoba’s final possession, Saskatchewan’s defence forced a turnover on downs and their offence proceeded to run out the clock to end the game.
Saskatchewan’s head coach Sheldon Gray was pleased with his team’s effort.
“The defence played really well,” said Gray. “They’re pretty hard-hitting and we kind of just weathered the storm there at the end.”
Burrell pointed to missed opportunities and sloppy play following his team’s defeat. Manitoba fumbled the ball three times, losing the ball each time.
“A lot of missed chances,” he said. “We’ve got to protect the ball in a situation like this when you’re up against a good team.”
The two teams combined for 210 yards in penalties, with Saskatchewan committing 131 of those yards.
“We’ve got to be a little more disciplined,” said Gray. “Take care of some penalties, brush up on a little bit of self control, and I think we’ll be in a good spot.”
Saskatchewan will now take on Ontario in Tuesday’s semi-final, while Manitoba Gold will play New Brunswick on the consolation side.
About the author
Nolan Kowal is a second year Creative Communications student at Red River College. He is majoring in journalism. Once he graduates, he hopes to pursue a career in sports broadcasting. He currently works as a news anchor and reporter for 680 CJOB in Winnipeg, and as a board operator for Winnipeg Goldeyes radio broadcasts. Follow @NolanKowal on twitter.
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