Photo courtesy of AllSportMedia.ca
The Saskatoon Hilltops and Langley Rams have met four times this decade in the Canadian Bowl, the Hilltops winning all four meetings including back to back in 2018 and 2019.
The first time they went head to head was in 2012 and the game became a CJFL Canadian Bowl Classic. It was played in Langley on November 10th and with a massive second half the Hilltops came back to win 23-21.
After a scoreless first quarter the Rams would break the tie in the second frame as quarterback Greg Bowcott hooked up with Malcolm Williams on a 16 yard strike. However the lead was short lived as the Hilltops would come right back on their next drive finished off by Zach Schmidt and an 18 yard field goal.
Eight minutes later Schmidt again would kick another field goal, this time from 32 yards out to bring the Hilltops within one.
Before the end of the half Bowcott connected with Michael Patko for a 73 yard catch and run for a touchdown and the Rams led at halftime 14-6.
Coming out of half the Rams kept pouring it on, just four minutes into the third running back Daniel Xavier would punch it in from a yard out to extend their lead to 21-6.
On their next possession however the Rams started to come unglued. Nick Downey fumbled which completely changed the momentum of the game. Mike Waldron recovered the fumble and returned it to the five yard line before Hilltops running back Andre Lalonde scored their first touchdown on the very next play making the score 21-13.
Then in the fourth, Schmidt connected on his third field goal from 30 yards out before quarterback Matt Karpinka found Graham Unruh for a 40 yard catch and run for a touchdown. That gave the Hilltops their first lead of the game, one they would not relinquish.
Unruh made six catches for a game high 208 yards and a major and was named the Offensive Player of the Game.
Karpinka finished with just six completions for 123 yards and a score. He would platoon with rookie Jared Andreychuk who finished 4 of 11 for 69 yards.
Defensively the Toppers were led by the Defensive Player of the Game Dylan Kemp. He tied a Canadian Bowl record with 11 solo tackles. Prairie Conference Defensive Player of the Year that season was Ben Cressman who finished the title game with five solo tackles and had an interception.
The victory was the Hilltops 16th national championship which at that time moved them one head of the Regina Rams for the most national titles in Canadian Junior Football League history.
Each of the next three Hilltops-Rams national title games has been equally exciting, but the game in 2012 stands out as a Canadian Bowl Classic.
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