This past Friday night saw the University of Manitoba Bisons football team get their first home win of the season, soundly beating the Regina Rams by a score of 34-19.
Both the Bisons and the Rams started off slow, trading field goals early in the first quarter. Later in the opening session, though, Manitoba grabbed the momentum.
The herd was pinned deep in their own end when Bison quarterback Theo Deezar completed a 42-yard pass to Dustin Pedersen. The wideout made an excellent grab over the shoulder to get the Bisons out of trouble. That kick-started the Bison offence, according to Deezar.
“I honestly think that was the spark of our offence, that got us going in the entire first half there,” he said. “Without that play I think it’s a different story for sure.”
The Bisons went on to score on the ensuing drive, through a 30-yard touchdown reception by veteran Alex Vitt. After nabbing another touchdown on the opening play of the second half, Vitt is now up to four touchdowns for the year. He currently sits second in Canada West in both yards per game and total touchdowns.
After the Vitt major, Manitoba would score three more touchdowns in the second quarter, outscoring the Rams 21-7.
The Bisons had this game in the bag, it seemed. However, they let stalled offensively in the second half, something head coach Brian Dobie was not too happy about.
“We need to understand that when we have a lead, we need to increase the lead,” he said. “Our guys didn’t quit today, but they slowed down, they took their foot off the gas, they didn’t have that killer instinct.”
Getting it done defensively
Despite a sluggish second half, Manitoba never really allowed the Rams into the game. Regina’s offensive yardage was mostly through the air, with Rams quarterback Noah Picton throwing short five-to-10-yard passes.
Regina found some success in the first half with this type of passing game, but the Bison defence shut it down in the second. Dobie commented that it was a physical adjustment by the players that helped stymie the Rams offensively.
“I think the defence started to play more physically, I think that was a big part of it,” he said. “We want to minimize drives like that and I thought we did a pretty good job of that.”
Everyone got involved defensively for the Bisons, with seven players recording at least five tackles. Jayden McKoy led the pack with 10. Eric Plett also got his second interception of the year towards the end of the fourth quarter, crushing any chance of a Regina comeback.
After throwing for three touchdowns against the Rams, Deezar now leads the Canada West conference with 13, and is also fourth overall in the country. Deezar is also averaging 377 yards a game, another conference best.
Bison running back Jamel Lyles is also fifth in the conference in yards per game, averaging 108. He has earned himself two CIS Player of the Week awards on the year, through his effort both offensively and on special teams.
The Bisons head into a bye week next week and then take on Regina again, this time in Regina on Oct. 17.