It didn’t come easy for the #9-ranked University of Manitoba Bisons, but they got it done at rain-soaked Investors Group Field on Saturday afternoon, pulling off a 20-10 victory over the UBC Thunderbirds.
Manitoba was led by their defence, which recorded four sacks and caused two turnovers on a day where that many touchdowns were scored – one by each team.
The Bisons got on the board first, at 11:12 of the first quarter with a safety. The two points were due largely in part to the defence, which stuffed UBC deep in their own end.
Manitoba would add to their lead at 5:51, scoring their only touchdown of the day: a 22 yard rushing touchdown by Kienan LaFrance, his fifth major of the season.
The Bisons would need only three plays to put six points on the board. After an incomplete pass, Nic Demski hauled in a 31-yard reception, and LaFrance finished things off on the following snap. He took a draw play, which seemed to fool the UBC secondary, giving him space to run. LaFrance deked a few defenders out of their equipment in the process, en-route to the score.
The Thunderbirds managed very little offensively in the first quarter. They only had one drive last longer than three plays, and also turned the ball over once – thanks to a forced fumble by Bison defensive back Cam Teschuk, which was recovered by linebacker D.J. Lalama.
Manitoba would add to their lead at 7:22 of the second quarter, thanks to a 36-yard field goal by kicker Ryan Jones. The drive was aided by brilliant field position, which started in UBC territory after a muffed punt by Thunderbirds kicker Quinn van Gylswyk.
UBC would get their only touchdown on the following drive; a four-yard scamper by running back Terrell Davis at 4:53. Receiver Alex Morrison was the x-factor on the drive, hauling in three passes for 77 yards.
The Thunderbirds crept closer with 11 seconds left in the first half, as van Gylswyk booted a 38-yard field goal, capping a seven-play, 29-yard drive. That made the score 12-10 for Manitoba heading into the half. It was also the closest that UBC would get on this day, as they were shut out completely in the second half. Only eight points were scored in the final two quarters, all coming from the Bisons.
Manitoba got off to a strong start in the second half, kicking a field goal on their first drive. Demski provided the biggest play, rushing 28 yards on an end-around, which set up the Bisons at the UBC 25-yard line. Jones would connect on a 40-yarder three plays later to make the score 15-10.
The Bisons put two more points on the board at 2:59 of the third, after the defence stuffed UBC inside the 20-yard line yet again. The Thunderbirds were forced to concede another safety.
Manitoba would finish off the scoring with a 19-yard field goal, at 6:33 of the fourth quarter. The Bison drive lasted nine plays—their longest of the game—and showed the athletic ability of quarterback Jordan Yantz, who frequently made plays with his feet.
UBC looked to move the ball in the final three minutes, starting at the Manitoba 43-yard line after a botched punt. Bison safety Tyler Fong would snuff out any chance at a comeback, though, as he intercepted the ensuing Carson Williams pass, securing the 20-10 win.
Discussions with Dobie
Head coach Brian Dobie was pleased with his team’s overall performance in all three areas against UBC, making note of their ability to dictate the pace.
“You look how all three units contributed so heavily in that game. We were never in danger, not truly,” said Dobie.
“I felt we really controlled the game against a UBC team that is far better than its record.”
Game notes for Manitoba
Demski, a three-time CIS All-Canadian, was all over the ball for Manitoba, recording 224 combined all-purpose yards. He had 45 yards rushing, 65 yards receiving, and 114 yards in kickoff/punt returns.
Receiver/punter Zach Regert had one heck of a day booting the football. Six of his 11 punts ended up inside the opposition’s 20-yard line, frequently setting up UBC with unfortunate field position. His longest punt on the day sailed 55 yards.
Lalama, the middle linebacker for the Bisons, was all over the ball. He led the defence with nine total tackles, along with a fumble recovery.
With his one and a half sacks in back-to-back games, first-year rush end Evan Foster now leads the Canada West with three total sacks on the season.
What’s up next?
Manitoba will face their biggest test of the season next week as they travel to Calgary to take on the #2-ranked Dinos. Game time is 6 p.m. Mountain Time on Friday, Sept. 26.