For the fourth time in five games this season, the University of Regina Rams put up more total offence than their opposition but still suffered a 34-19 loss to the No. 6-ranked Manitoba Bisons on Friday night at Investors Group Field.
Three second-quarter touchdowns by Manitoba (3-2) proved to be the difference.
The two teams were tied 3-3 after the first quarter, but Manitoba outscored the Rams by a 21-7 margin in the second to take a 24-10 lead at the break. The Bisons' lead reached as much as 24 during the second half, and though the Rams cut that lead down to 15 late in the third they were never able to break through to make it a one-possession game.
The loss by the Rams (0-5) overshadowed a career night for third-year receiver Davin Johnston (pictured), who came into the game with two career receptions but got the start with Mitch Thompson injured and exploded for 13 catches for 203 receiving yards to lead all players in both categories.
For Manitoba, quarterback Theo Deezar completed 21 of 33 passes and was a deep threat all night long with six completions in excess of 30 yards. He finished with 413 passing yards and three touchdown passes, with Alex Vitt and Dustin Pedersen as his main targets. Vitt caught six passes for 182 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including a back-breaking 69-yard reception for a major on the first play from scrimmage in the second half. Pedersen also had six catches, finishing with 131 yards and a touchdown.
Jayden McKoy led the Manitoba defence with nine solo tackles and two assisted tackles, while David Onyemata and Evan Foster both had sacks and Eric Plett registered a key interception in Manitoba's own end zone late in the fourth quarter.
Johnston's 13 catches stand as the second-highest total in U of R history, tied with current offensive coordinator Mark McConkey's mark of 13 set against Saskatchewan on Sept. 18, 2010 but short of the Canada West record of 15 shared by Chad Goldie (Regina) and Jake Harty (Calgary).
Noah Picton completed 35 of his 49 pass attempts for 456 yards and threw a touchdown pass to rookie Ryan Schienbein in the third quarter. Atlee Simon had 79 rushing yards on 16 carries, including a 30-yard touchdown run in the second for his team's first major of the game. Mitchell Picton and Richard Sindani each had six catches, with Picton finishing with 70 receiving yards and Sindani ending up with 59.
Ryan Serbu led the Rams in tackles (5 solo, 1 assisted) while rookie defensive back Polis Koko recovered a fumble on the last play of the third quarter to give the Rams some life heading into the fourth.
The entire conference will now break for a bye week before returning to action in two weekends. It'll be these two same teams meeting again in Regina, with the Rams and Bisons set to kick off at Mosaic Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 17 with a 4 p.m. start time.
(University of Regina)
A 39-point second half propelled the University of Calgary Dinos past a pesky Saskatchewan Huskies team Saturday afternoon en route to a 59-19 Canada West football victory.
On a cold and windy afternoon at McMahon Stadium, most of the scoring took place for the team that enjoyed the stiff north wind – until the middle of the third quarter, when the Dinos broke open the game and went on to win going away. No. 1-ranked Calgary improves to 5-0 on the season, while eighth-ranked Saskatchewan drops to 2-3.
Taking advantage of the wind, the Huskies found themselves down just two points midway through the third quarter when Drew Burko found John Trumpy for a 35-yard touchdown strike to bring the score to 20-18 for Calgary, with the Dinos offence sputtering. Second-year returner Will Maxwell provided a spark the Dinos needed, however, returning the ensuing kickoff 72 yards to give Calgary the ball inside the Huskies' 45-yard line. Three plays later, Andrew Buckley found Austen Hartley for a 5-yard touchdown pass, and the Dinos never looked back.
"We knew Saskatchewan would come out strong, and we knew we'd be challenged throughout the game," said Dinos head coach Wayne Harris. "They play a physical brand of football, and the first half was not pretty at all times. The offence struggled, and defensively we gave up a few too many plays. But our guys played a full 60 minutes, and we're starting to just wear teams down."
Turnovers hurt the Huskies' ability to come back as they coughed up the ball on three consecutive drives with a pair of interceptions and a fumbled punt return spanning the end of the third and the start of the fourth. While the Dinos managed just one touchdown off those turnovers, they snuffed out promising Saskatchewan drives – with one of the picks coming on the eight-yard line. Following the Trumpy TD, Calgary outscored the Huskies 39-1 in the final 21 minutes of the game to remain undefeated.
Third-year receiver Hartley had a career outing, hauling in five passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns. His second major was spectacular: with the Dinos backed up to their 5-yard line after a penalty on a punt return, Hartley found an opening in the defence and took a Buckley pass 105 yards to the end zone, tying the school record for longest completion in the process early in the fourth quarter. The game put him in the top five in the conference in receiving, and with two TDs he's second only to teammate Rashaun Simonise in that category.
"I knew Austen was a good receiver, but he's such a tough runner after he catches the ball," explained Harris. "He has the ability to take plays that should be five, 10, 15 yards and turn them into 50, 60-yard plays. He's not easy to take down, and that really inspires our offence."
Buckley finished 22-for-37 for 486 yards and four TDs for Calgary, while Burko completed 15 of 25 passes for 314 yards, two TDs, and three interceptions. His longest completion of the night was to Mitch Hillis less than four minutes into the game, a 78-yard bomb that ended up in the end zone and gave the Huskies an early lead. Hillis finished with 145 yards on five catches, while Julan Lynch hauled in six catches for 105 yards for Saskatchewan.
Defensively, Connor McGough had an outstanding outing for Calgary with seven solo tackles and a pair of sacks, while Micah Teitz added 7.5 tackles. Tanner Doll had six tackles and an interception, while Robert Woodson hauled in a pair of picks for Calgary. Saskatchewan's defensive leader was linebacker Dane Bishop with 7.5 tackles, while Brett Boechler added seven more while Justin Filteau picked up 6.5.
Both teams will enjoy the Thanksgiving bye next week before returning to action in a repeat engagement, this time in Saskatoon. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. MT Friday, Oct. 16 at Griffiths Stadium, live on Shaw TV and CanadaWest.tv.
(University of Calgary)
The biting Edmonton cold was a factor on Saturday afternoon at Foote Field, but it wasn't enough to stop a dominant performance from the UBC Thunderbirds. The T-Birds were excellent on both sides of the ball, and nearly doubled up on the Alberta Golden Bears, winning by a 39-21 score line.
The Thunderbirds' rushing attack was relentless all afternoon, piling up 278 total yards on the ground. Fifth-year senior tailback Brandon Deschamps (Prince George, B.C.) led the way for the T-Birds, posting 86 yards and a score on 16 carries. Receiver Will Watson (Surrey) was also a huge contributor in the running game, adding 72 yards to go with his team-high 55 through the air.
Quarterback Michael O'Connor (Orleans, Ont.) managed the ball well through the air, hitting 21 of his 32 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns. The freshman also showed off his athleticism on the ground with 45 rushing yards.
On special teams, Quinn Van Gylswyk (Victoria) was his usual, efficient self, drilling four of five field goal attempts amidst some vicious winds, with a long of 39-yards.
As good as the offence was for the T-Birds, their defence might have been even better, making several key stops on third down situations, and forcing a couple of key turnovers. Free safety Taylor Loffler (Kelowna) and linebacker Mitch Barnett (North Vancouver) tied for the team lead with seven tackles apiece, with Loffler adding a forced fumble and Barnett tagging on a sack. Defensive tackle Dante Vagini (Coquitlam) also added a crucial pick for the T-Birds in the late stages of the contest.
For the Golden Bears, Kopczynski finished 10-of-15 for 109 yards, while Baker went 14-of-25 for 142, a touchdown and an interception. Ilnicki ended the contest with 92 yards on the ground via 18 carries, to go with two receptions for 18 yards and the score. Receivers Tylor Henry and Jimmy Ralph brought down six balls for 91 yards and eight balls for 70 yards, respectively, with Ralph adding a garbage time touchdown.
Next week marks a league-wide bye week for Thanksgiving, but the Thunderbirds and Golden Bears will complete their home-and-home series, with the Canada West playoffs on the horizon, on Saturday, October 17. Kickoff is set for 2:00 p.m. (PT) at David Sidoo Field at Thunderbird Stadium.