Saturday, 13 May 2017

Riot push out to early season edge on Valkyries

Alex Kowalski hauls in a pass in traffic for the Riot.
    The Regina Riot ground out an early victory over their biggest rivals, which might prove to be key down the road.
    On Saturday at Saskatoon Minor Football Field, the Riot muscled their way to a gutty 16-0 victory over the defending Western Women’s Canadian Football League champion Saskatoon Valkyries. While the Riot pushed their way to victory in very windy conditions, the Valkyries had a number of promising drives that stalled helping to contribute to the end result.
    Saskatoon’s struggles to get on the scoreboard started in the first quarter. Early in the first, the Valkyries got into Riot territory when sophomore quarterback Alex Eyolfson completed a deep ball into the wind to standout receiver Carly Dyck. The hosts had to settle for a punt that pinned the visitors deep in their end.
    The Riot didn’t stay stuck in their end for long. Mixing up the pass and run, Regina drove about 80 yards down field and got on the board first, when Morgan Turner booted a 12 yard field goal to give the Riot a 3-0 lead.
Aimee Kowalski throw a jump pass for the Riot.
    Regina had another big drive that started in the first quarter and ended early in the second quarter going into the wind. The drive concluded when veteran star Riot quarterback Aimee Kowalski hit receiver Rachelle Smith on a short little three-yard pass and run touchdown that extended Regina’s edge to 10-0.
    The Valkyries had a huge chance to cut the gap before halftime but some untimely penalties dashed those hopes. With the wind, Eyolfson hit Dyck on another deep throw to get the Valkyries deep into Riot territory.
    It appeared Eyolfson was going to have a big chance to hit Dyck for a touchdown strike on the next play after the completed bomb, but a pre-snap penalty dashed those hopes. With no time remaining on the clock, Dyck made a field goal from 32 yards out that looked to have put the Valkyries on the scoreboard, but the points were taken off the board due to a holding penalty.
    Dyck tried the kick from 42 yards out, but just missed wide left. Riot kick returner and defensive back Mira Trebilcock ran the ball out of the end zone to preserve Regina’s 10-0 edge.
    At the second half coin toss, the Valkyries took wind in the third quarter, and early in the frame, it appeared they were going to get the ball in good field position.
Running back Mallory Starkey,  middle, power her way to a Riot touchdown.
    The Riot were forced to punt from deep in their own end, but Valkyries kick returner Gillian Allen fumbled the ball away. The Riot recovered the fumble on their own 44.
    Regina proceeded to put together a methodical 66-yard drive that ended with a two-yard touchdown run by Mallory Starkey to give the visitors a 16-0 edge. The Riot had trouble with the snap on the extra point attempt and were unable to get it off.
    Early in the fourth quarter, the Riot were deep in Valkyries territory, but fumbled the ball away to keep the hosts in the game.
    The Valkyries were able to get down deep in Regina territory again, but still couldn’t score. An end zone pass to Dyck was swatted away by Trebilcock. The Valkyries also saw a goal line toss to rookie slotback Nadia Doucoure fall incomplete.
Valkyries QB Alex Eyolfson (#15) eludes Riot LB Adrienne Zuck (#36).
    Kowalski completed 18 of 26 passes for 226 yards and a touchdown toss for the Riot.
    Jenna Koller topped all Riot receivers with five catches for 85 yards. Starkey was the top ground gainer for Regina piling up 91 yards on 19 carries.
    Linebacker Adrienne Zuck had five solo tackles and a key fourth quarter sack for the Riot.
    Eyolfson completed 10 of 18 passes for 125 yards for the Valkyries.
    Dyck was Saskatoon’s top receiver hauling in four passes for 92 yards. Power tailback Samantha Matheson led the way on the ground with 105 yards on 20 carries.
    Veteran star linebacker Beth Thomson had seven solo tackles for the Valkyries, while sophomore linebacker Emmarae Dale had two solo tackles and a sack.
    Regina had the edge in net offence over Saskatoon 387 yards to 250 yards.
Samantha Matheson (#22) ran for 105 yards for the Valkyries.
    The Riot improved to 2-0 with the win, while the Valkyries fell to 1-1. Both clubs have two games left on their respective regular season schedules.
    The two teams go at it again on Sunday, May 21 at 7:30 p.m. at old Mosaic Stadium in Regina.
    The Valkyries need to win that contest by 17 or more points to claim the standings tiebreaker with the Riot.

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