The University of Regina Rams led by 23 points late in the third quarter, but were unable to hang on and suffered a 38-37 defeat to Saskatchewan on Friday night at Mosaic Stadium.
Saskatchewan took its first – and only – lead of the game with 20 seconds left after Jarvis James punched it in from one yard out to cap an eight-play, 73-yard drive that was set up mainly by a 43-yard screen pass to Andre Lalonde.
The win will likely send the Huskies to the postseason and a date with No. 1-ranked Calgary in the conference semifinals, barring a monumental upset of the undefeated Dinos by Alberta tomorrow.
Mitch Hillis piled up 224 all-purpose yards for the Huskies, catching 10 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown and also returning five punts for 46 yards. Kyle Siemens made his second consecutive start for Saskatchewan at quarterback and finished 23-for-41 for 422 yards while connecting with both Hillis and Julan Lynch for touchdown passes.
James ended up with 109 rushing yards for the Huskies, while James, Siemens, and Lalonde each had a touchdown run. Saskatchewan's defence was led by Donovan Dale, who forced a pair of fumbles and essentially sealed the win with a sack on Picton after James' game-winning score.
Noah Picton completed 26 of his 33 pass attempts for the Rams, with his 78.7% completion rate setting a new school record. He finished with 315 passing yards including touchdown passes to Mitch Thompson and Riley Wilson. Atlee Simon had 155 rushing yards and a touchdown, while linebacker Michael Stefanovic set a school and Canada West record with a 108-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the third quarter.
The first half was all Rams, as the home side forced a turnover on the very first play from scrimmage when Mason Rossler jarred the ball loose following a completed pass to James and Zack McEachern scooped it up. The Rams took advantage of the field position, needing to go only 25 yards and getting most of it on Picton's 13-yard pass to Thompson for the first score of the game.
(University of Saskatchewan)
Fifth-year quarterback Andrew Buckley set a new CIS single-season passing record as the University of Calgary Dinos completed a perfect regular season with a 64-28 win over the Alberta Golden Bears.
Playing just one drive deep into the third quarter before taking a seat, Buckley completed 20 of 27 passes for 463 yards and three touchdowns, giving him 3,162 passing yards on the season – enough to break the week-old national record of 3,136 set by Ottawa's Derek Wendel. The reigning Hec Crighton Trophy winner completes the regular season with 177 completions on 246 attempts with 19 touchdowns and just one interception – which he tossed early in this contest at Foote Field.
All three of Buckley's touchdown passes went to Simonise, who had a career day himself with nine catches for 272 yards and three majors, beginning with a 99-yard bomb 10 minutes into the first quarter. That was the third-longest passing play in school history, and it made it 14-0 Calgary.
Amidst the major news for Buckley, Dinos kicker Johnny Mark added 19 more points to his CIS-record career total, ending his career with 535. Additionally, he was good on all four of his field goal opportunities, adding his name to another CIS record with 26 on the season – tied for the most in one year with Guelph's Daniel Ferraro's 2014 campaign.
The top-ranked Dinos wrap up the season at 8-0 for just the second time in school history, the first coming back in 2013. They will embark on the playoff trail by hosting the Saskatchewan Huskies in a Hardy Cup semi-final next Saturday, Nov. 7 at McMahon Stadium, with kickoff at 1 p.m. The winner will advance to the 79th Hardy Cup Nov. 14.
(University of Calgary)
The No. 9-ranked UBC Thunderbirds football team escaped with a 24-10 win over the No. 8-ranked Manitoba Bisons on Saturday afternoon in the regular season finale, earning the right to host next week's Canada West playoff semifinal against the very same Manitoba squad.
Saturday's contest was a defensive show of force for the 'Birds, as their stop unit was led by linebacker Terrell Davis' (Victoria, B.C.) 9.5 tackles (six solo, seven assisted) and a forced fumble. In the secondary, defensive back Stavros Katsantonis (Bakersfield, Calif.) had his second straight week with two interceptions, as he forced Manitoba quarterback Foster Martens into bad decisions all day.
On offence, it was an up-and-down day for UBC quarterback Michael O'Connor (Orleans, Ont.). The freshman completed just 17-of-30 passes for 219 yards and two interceptions, but also contributed 62 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Tailback Brandon Deschamps (Prince George, B.C.) had a solid outing, picking up 119 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. Marcus Davis (Victoria, B.C.) was his usual two-way terror, catching five passes for 94 yards, and adding a 14-yard rushing score on his only carry of the afternoon.
Manitoba was also led by its defence, and it was linebacker Brett McFarlane who led the way. The fourth-year player forced two fumbles on the afternoon, to go along with 4.5 tackles. Defensive back Jayden McCoy also had a solid afternoon, with three tackles, an interception, and a fumble recovery.
The 'Birds and Bisons will square off in the Canada West playoff semifinals next week, as the two teams finished at No. 2 and No. 3 in the conference. The win this afternoon means that the playoff showdown will be held at David Sidoo Field at Thunderbird Stadium, with the opening kickoff set for 12 noon PT.
(University of British Columbia)