The Hurricanes couldn’t find their groove Saturday in the Canadian Bowl as the the Saskatoon Hilltops win their second straight national title. Hamilton failed to score a single touchdown, or field goal, in the entire game which saw Hurricanes’ quarterback Matt Francis picked off five times.
Saskatoon got the first score of the game after a missed field goal attempt. A kick wide was downed in the endzone causing a Rouge and a single point. The following drive by the Hurricanes saw Francis’ pass intercepted and returned to the the Hilltops 31 yard line. Saskatoon would slowly push their way downfield culminating in a touchdown with 7 second remaining in the first quarter.
After a brief drive from Hamilton that culminated in a punt from the Hamilton’s 53 yard line, Saskatoon started another drive into Hurricane territory. Following several short gains, Hilltops’ Regan Schuler took the ball on second down and ran 43 yards into the endzone for Saskatoon’s second touchdown of the half.
With 6:18 left on the clock in the opening half Saskatoon took a 15-0 lead.
The next offensive run by the Hurricanes started to show promise following an 18 yard rush by Ryan Kotar and a completed pass for another 13 yards. The drive would be cut short as the third play of the run was picked off by Hilltops’ Graig Newman. After Saskatoon’s next run was turned over on downs, Newman would pick off Francis for the second time in the quarter.
The play continued scoreless in the second quarter, back and forth, until the final play of the half as a wide field goal kick resulted in a rouge giving Hamilton a point before halftime.
The Hilltops came out strong in the third quarter. After the Hurricanes punted away their first drive of the half, Schuler broke away with a 60 yard carry to bring Saskatoon to a first and goal. The quick drive would finish with a rushing touchdown from 3rd and 1 to put the Hilltops up 22-1 early in the second half.
Francis’ troubles continued on the next drive as Ryan Newman registered his third interception of the game after two complete passes for a total of 29 yards and two first downs. Luckily for the Hurricanes the resulting Saskatoon drive did not result in a score.
Despite another pass interception, a fumble and a turnover on downs in the fourth quarter the Hilltops were only able to capitalize once more in the game, scoring another touchdown with 1:37 left in the game. John Trumpy of the Hilltops made an amazing leaping catch for the score.
The final result of the game was heartbreaking for Hamilton, who were going into the game with confidence after a successful season. The Hurricanes never scored less than 21 points in any game during the season, including their only regular season loss to Windsor.
The Hamilton Hurricanes finish a fantastic season as two time OFC Champions.
Tomorrow begins the off season and, more importantly, the first day of preparations for their next run for the Canadian Bowl.