The Saskatoon Hilltops defense and special teams did the heavy lifting early and when the offense got rolling the Wildcats got rolled over 53-0 in Edmonton.
Connor Delahey blocked a punt to set up Adam Ewanchyna’s eight-yard touchdown catch from Jordan Walls just over two minutes into the first quarter but the Wildcats defense dug in and held the Hilltops to a David Solie field goal until the second quarter when the PFC’s top running back took over. Josh Ewanchyna scored his first of three touchdowns on the afternoon with a 19-yard scamper to pay turf just past the midway point of the second quarter. That major was set up by a 56-yard connection between Walls and Jason Price which sparked the offense.
A safety and another David Solie field goal put the Toppers ahead 22-0 and a tactical mistake by the Wildcats in the final minute of the half proved to be back-breaking. Instead of conceding another safety the Wildcats chose to punt out of their end zone. Brant Morrow returned the kick 44 yards to the Wildcat three-yard line and on the next play Price made a terrific over the shoulder catch on a perfectly placed pass by Walls to give the four-time defending Canadian Bowl champions a 29-0 half-time lead.
The third-quarter was part-two of the Josh Ewanchyna show with touchdown runs of six and 23 yards and in a fourth quarter that saw a lot of playing time for the back-up’s, Tyler Herman tossed a 36-yard touchdown strike to John Brown and Solie hoofed his third field goal of the game to make the final 53-0.
The Hilltops defense was dominant limiting the Edmonton offense to -10 net yards in the first half without surrendering a single first down. Rookie Evan Mantyka made two of the Hilltops three interceptions while Jaydn Pingue picked the other and Wildcat quarterbacks Justin Swedish and Mark Barber were sacked four times.
Josh Ewanchyna recorded 187 yards on the ground on 22 carries and is now running away from the PFC pack with a conference-leading 830 yards, almost 200 more than Brandt Burzuk of the Huskies. Price pulled in four catches for 104 yards and a touchdown. He too is the conference pace-setter at 586 yards on 26 receptions, over 100 yards clear of Regina’s Lee Brown.
Walls completed 14 of 26 passes for 22 yards and two touchdowns and was intercepted once. Herman was 5-of-8 for 65 yards with a touchdown and a pick. Solie was good on 3-of-5 field goal attempts and perfect on six converts and hasn’t missed a point after touchdown in 41 attempts this season.
Head coach Tom Sergeant told the post-game show audience on 92.9 THE BULL he was thrilled with the defensive effort but wants to clean up some things on the offense before hosting Winnipeg next Sunday in regular season wrappper. He also praised Mantyka saying the rookie was a last minute addition to the roster for the game and Mantyka proved he could make plays when given the opportunity.
Regina’s 38-17 win over the Rifles means Sunday’s game against Winnipeg will be a preview of the PFC semi-final. Sergeant said they will take a basic approach to the Winnipeg game at home on Oct. 14. A win next Sunday would give the Hilltops an unblemished 8-0 regular season record. It’s a 1 p.m. start with the broadcast on 92.9 THE BULL beginning at 12:30.