The Regina Thunder rallied in the second half to defeat the Edmonton Huskies and punch their ticket to the Prairie Football Conference (PFC) finals.
The Thunder traveled to Clarke Park in Edmonton on Sunday to meet the Huskies after finishing third in the PFC.
This was just the third time that the Thunder and Huskies met in playoff action. Back in 2003, the Huskies won 30-21 and in 2013 the Thunder won 26-17. Earlier this season when these two teams met, the Huskies came away with the 62-30 victory thanks to over 440 yards through the air.
Both teams’ defences had a strong first half, with the Thunder only giving up 11 points and the Huskies giving up just four.
It would be turnovers that would be the difference-maker in the first half, with the Huskies defence forcing multiple interceptions by Thunder quarterback Sawyer Buettner, one being in the end zone.
Despite having the league’s second-best running back, Victor St. Pierre Laviolette, the Thunder only ran eight times in the first half.
The Thunder offence would come alive in the second half when Buettner would hook up with Jhqhin Swan for a touchdown.
Buettner rushed in a touchdown in the fourth quarter to take an 18-14 lead.
The Thunder defence stepped up and forced an interception that would put the Thunder up 24-14 following an Eric MaxiMuik field goal.
The Huskies wouldn’t go away quietly, with Huskies quarterback Brad Launhardt tossing a touchdown pass to bring the Huskies to within three points.
The Thunder would recover the Huskies onside kick attempt, giving the Thunder the 24-21 victory.
“The Edmonton Huskies are a great team, and they’re well-coached, definitely a battle right to the very end but our guys believe in each other and they’re working hard for each other and we’re in a good state right now and I’m very happy for the players,” said head coach Scott MacAuley.
Regina’s defence was able to force three interceptions from Launhardt and Coach MacAuley said making those plays are a key to victory in the playoffs.
“Turning the ball over in any game is a major component to it, especially in a championship game.”
He said the coaches were able to make the right adjustments and the players stepped up to make the plays when they were needed.
The PFC finals will be an all-Saskatchewan affair, with the Thunder traveling to Saskatoon to take on the first place Hilltops.
“They definitely make plays, it’s not like they do a lot of things that are going to surprise us but they’ll throw the ball up and they expect their players to come down with it so we got to expect our players to be playing at a high-level as well.”
The PFC finals will take place on Sunday.