Sask capitalizes on fourth quarter turnover to earn trip to finals
Photo credit: FotosbyFitz / Glenn Dickson
By Kevin Hirschfield, Special to Football Canada
Saskatchewan’s first touchdown of the 2016 Canada Cup tournament came when they needed it most.
David Solie hauled in an 8-yard touchdown pass from Josh Donnelly with 4:31 to play giving Saskatchewan the lead and the eventual 12-10 win over Ontario.
The victory earns them a berth in the gold medal game against the defending champs from Quebec on Friday night.
“We always said we have one team, one goal,” said Saskatchewan coach Sheldon Gray. “That goal isn’t done yet, so we’re going to advance to the gold medal game, but we have more to play.”
Saskatchewan’s defence was their strength again on Tuesday, having yet to allow a touchdown in this tournament. They sacked Ontario QB David Maecker four times and picked him off twice.
“They’re well coached,” added Gray. “Kyle Stroeder and Cody Halseth, two very good coaches who got these guys ready to play and they did what they had to do.”
The teams didn’t find much offence in the first three quarters as Ontario managed a pair of Ethan Bastarache field goals and a single to take a 7-3 lead at halftime and led 7-5 after three.
Another Bastarache field goal in the fourth made it 10-5 and it looked like Ontario’s defence and special teams would be the difference-maker.
But the prairie defence had another big play left.
Ryder Varga picked off a pass in Ontario territory and was then hit out of bounds late, setting Saskatchewan up at the Ontario 24, where they eventually found paydirt.
Ontario took a whopping 13 penalties totaling 171 yards.
“It came down to undisciplined mistakes,” said Ontario coach Glen Mills. “We gave them far too many second opportunities, just too much foolishness.”
“It’s a valuable lesson for our kids and unfortunately it’s a painful lesson for these young men.”
Saskatchewan’s last victory at the Canada Cup was in 2010, where they knocked off Quebec in the final. Will history repeat itself on Friday?
“There was a lot of us coaching in that tournament on this staff right now,” said Gray. “We know what it takes, we know what it feels like to win, so we’re going to give it a go Friday.”
Ontario meets Alberta in the bronze medal game.
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