On Friday, the University of Manitoba Bison football team was involved in a back-and-forth battle with the UBC Thunderbirds, with both teams entering the game with 2-2 records. In the second half alone there were four lead changes, and UBC tied the game with 4:35 left in the fourth quarter, which sent the game to overtime. The Bisons were edged out by the defending CIS champions after four overtime sessions, by a score of 53-50.
The first quarter got off to a slow start with UBC punting on their first drive and the Bisons taking a safety on their opening drive. On the next drive, the Thunderbirds’ kicker Greg Hutchins missed his 26-yard field goal attempt. Later in the quarter, Bison linebacker DJ Lalama forced a fumble in UBC territory that was recovered by linebacker Bami Adewale.
On the ensuing drive, Theo Deezar threw one of his three interceptions, unable to capitalize on the field position given by the defence. The Thunderbirds kept their 3-0 lead heading into the second quarter.
The Bisons’ offence started a drive at the end of the first quarter and finished it in the second quarter with a game-tying 36-yard field goal from Brad Mikoluff, one of his four field goals for the day. On the next drive, Bisons defensive back Jayden McKoy made one of his two interceptions, which gave the herd great starting field position.
This time Deezar and company took advantage of the turnover with a 27-yard touchdown pass to Shai Ross, his fourth of the season, giving the Bisons a 10-3 lead. The herd took a 19-13 lead into halftime.
The second half was when the offensive explosion began, with UBC scoring on their first drive. Running back Ben Cummings rushed four times for 89 yards and a touchdown. Cummings was one of the major weapons for the Thunderbirds as he finished with 270 total yards and two touchdowns, one of which sent the game into overtime.
The other star for the Thunderbirds on Friday was receiver Trivel Pinto, who accounted for 245 yards through the air and three touchdowns, two of which came at critical moments in overtime including the game winner. Pinto also made an impact on the defensive side of the ball, coming up with an interception as well.
The Bisons’ offence was rolling as well in this back-and-forth second half, as Deezar finished with 368 yards and five touchdown passes. Deezar spread the ball around as each touchdown was thrown to a different receiver and seven different receivers had at least 20 yards receiving.
This barn-burner of a game needed four overtime sessions. In the first session, both teams were able to put up touchdowns. The Bisons started session number two with the ball, but could only manage to put up a field goal which gave them a 40-37 lead.
The Thunderbirds got the ball back and could win it with a touchdown, but were only able to put up three points as well. Session three resulted in touchdowns for both teams again, making it 47-47.
It was session four that decided the game. The herd started with Deezar being sacked for a loss of 11 yards. Deezar then completed a pass to Riley Harrison for 15 yards, setting up a 38-yard field goal for Mikoluff, and allowing the herd to take a 50-47 lead. Again the Thunderbirds had an opportunity to win with a touchdown, and this time they would not miss that opportunity. On the very first play, quarterback Michael O’Connor threw a dump pass to Pinto who took it 35 yards to the house.
The Thunderbirds won the crucial game by a score of 53-50, improving their record to 3-2 while the Bisons fall to 2-3.
With 103 combined points, this game was the fourth highest-scoring game in Canada West division history. The highest-scoring game in the division was on October 27, 2012 when the Bisons and T-Birds played for a combined 132 points.
The Bisons have a bye this week before heading into Calgary to take on the fourth-ranked Dinos on Friday, Oct. 14.