The University of Manitoba Bisons football team headed into Friday night’s game against Alberta desperate for a win after two disappointing losses against UBC and Calgary. After trailing by nine at halftime, the Bisons would complete a second half comeback, winning 42-32.
Star performances from running back Jamel Lyles and slotback Alex Vitt helped spur the herd to victory.
The Bisons showed their resolve from the very beginning. Quarterback Theo Deezar started the game by throwing an interception on Manitoba’s first drive, but the Bison defence held, with Braden McCarthy recovering a fumble on the ensuing Alberta possession.
Manitoba got on the board right after that on a one-yard run from Cameron Fox. Alberta responded with a touchdown of their own shortly after. The Golden Bears and Bisons traded scores in the second quarter, with Alberta leading 25-16 at the half.
Manitoba opened up the second half with a four-play, 60-yard touchdown drive capped off with a 21-yard pass to receiver Jesse Walker.
The Golden Bears scored on their very next drive to keep Manitoba at bay.
Alberta was not prepared for Lyles in the second half, however. The running back completely took over. He put the momentum in the Bisons’ hands on a wonderful 73-yard punt return at the end of the third quarter, levelling the score at 32.
Manitoba couldn’t be stopped after that, as they outscored the Bears 10-0 in the fourth quarter. Lyles added another touchdown and Ryan Jones scored a field goal with five minutes remaining to make it a two-possession game for Alberta.
The Golden Bears attempted to make a comeback, but that effort was stymied by an interception by Brett MacFarlane. The win brings the Bisons back to .500 and keeps their perfect road record intact.
Lyles has been dubbed “Mr. All-Purpose,” and rightly so: he collected 258 yards in total offence for the Bisons.
He was a beast in the backfield specifically, racking up 119 yards on 14 attempts and scoring a touchdown. The Surrey, B.C. product now has 416 rushing yards total on the year and is averaging 104 yards a game.
Spreading the love
The Bison receiving core were all involved in this game, with seven receivers making at least one grab. Vitt led the pack with six catches and 131 yards. Walker also continued his touchdown streak, scoring in his third straight game, while Anthony Dyck scored his first CIS touchdown in this game as well.
Shutting it down
The Bison defence also performed very well in this game, recording three sacks. McCarthy, a defensive end, had two, while defensive tackle David Onyemata added a sack of his own as well as eight tackles.
Defensive end/tackle Evan Foster led Manitoba with nine tackles. He is the team leader in that category this season with 22.5. That also puts him eighth in the Canada West conference.
The win puts the Bisons in a tie with multiple teams for second place in the conference. Manitoba heads back home for homecoming weekend against the Regina Rams this weekend, who are winless so far this year.