Huskies roll up the points against Rams in football home opener

Michelle Berg/Saskatoon StarPhoenix University of Saskatchewan. Huskies receiver Rhett Vavra (88) celebrates as his team defeated the Regina Rams during the home opener at Griffiths Stadium.

Host University of Saskatchewan Huskies lit up the scoreboard with a 40-6 win over Regina Rams in the Huskies home opener on Friday night.

Don Rice, Saskatoon StarPhoenix

A record-breaking home crowd saw the host University of Saskatchewan Huskies light up the scoreboard with a 40-6 win over their provincial rival Regina Rams in the Huskies home opener on Friday night at Griffiths Stadium.

Huskie alumni, including players from the 1998 Vanier Cup championship winning team, were among the 10,054 in attendance, the new regular season record for a Huskie home game.

The crowd was the third-largest in Canada West regular season history; the opening game at Mosaic Stadium on Oct. 1, 2016 still holds the all-time attendance record at 16,500.

“I just told the boys, I’m really proud of them,” said Huskies’ head coach Scott Flory. “The table was set with homecoming, with the big crowd, a beautiful night, alumni here celebrating the ’98 Vanier Cup and an all-years reunion for the alumni, and they didn’t disappoint. The boys rose to the moment and executed and I’m really proud of them.”

The Huskies got the start they wanted, jumping out to a 21-0 first quarter lead, and 31-0 at half.

Anton Amundrud, in his first season as the Huskies’ starting quarterback, tossed three first quarter touchdowns on a 12-yard pass to Brandon Pipko, and 15- and 29-yarders to Rhett Vavra. Midway through the second, the agile Vavra scored his third straight touchdown on a 36-yard reception. David Solie, who converted all the touchdowns, closed out the first half scoring with a 13-yard field goal.

Regina Rams head coach Mark McConkey noted that it was hard to match up with the Huskies.

“We just started slow,” said McConkey. “We were just bad. Bad on offence, bad on defence, bad on special teams. When you play a good team like the Huskies — they’re loaded with good players — you can’t do that. You just get behind the eight ball and that’s exactly what happened. And then once you get down by 28 or 31, it’s tough to come back. It seemed like they were just running downhill and we were trying to push the thing uphill and it just didn’t work out.”

The Rams finally got their offence moving a bit more in the second half, capitalizing on a Huskie fumble at their own 39. Rams quarterback Noah Pelletier capped off the eight-play drive with a three-yard touchdown. But as much of the rest of the night went for the Rams, they missed on a two-point convert attempt.

The Huskies picked up a safety, then Ted Kubongo rushed in from five yards out for their fifth touchdown drive of the game, to make it 40-6 Huskies after three. There was no scoring in the fourth quarter.

McConkey noted that the Rams stepped up better later in the game, only losing the second half 9-6.

Flory wasn’t happy with the let-up.

“We’ve got to put a complete game together here,” Flory said. “It was a little sloppy there in the second half a little bit. But we’ll clean that up.”

Amundrud finished 29 for 40 for 391 yards with four touchdowns and one interception. Pelletier completed 20 of 37 for 218 yards with three interceptions. Vavra led the Huskies in receiving with six catches for 130 yards while D’Sean Mimbs had four receptions for 83 yards for the Rams.

The Alberta Golden Bears (2-0) are the next team that faces the Huskies (2-0) as the Bears come to Saskatoon Friday at 7 p.m. at Griffiths Stadium.