The University of Manitoba football team took to the field for their final home game of the season Saturday, falling just short against the #6 University of British Columbia Thunderbirds.
The game was back and forth, but the Thunderbirds pulled off a 17-16 win, spoiling Manitoba’s home finale.
With the loss, the Bisons fall to 1-6 on the year, losing every game at home this season. The Thunderbirds improve to 5-2, overtaking Regina to claim second in the Canada West.
The herd got on the board first, courtesy of kicker Brad Mikoluff. Mikoluff’s field goal flew through the uprights from 28 yards out giving the Bisons a 3-0 lead.
UBC came storming back down the field, pushing to the Bisons’ three-yard line before being turned back by a defensive stop only inches away from the game’s first touchdown.
Michael O’Connor tossed a pass to Trivel Pinto, who was streaking down the sideline late in the first quarter. Pinto carried the ball 80 yards to the house, and Greg Hutchins kicked the extra point for a 7-3 Thunderbird lead.
A fumble by Bison quarterback Theo Deezar inches from the end zone almost cost the Bisons a TD, but the ball was scooped up by fifth year offensive lineman Anthony Daley. He hopped over a couple bodies and into the end zone to give the Bisons back the lead at 10-7.
After a Jamel Lyles TD was turned back following a holding penalty, the herd regrouped and continued to attack. The drive ended in another Mikoluff field goal to make it 13-7 Manitoba. UBC responded with their own field goal, courtesy of Hutchins, two possessions later to bring them back within three at 13-10.
In terms of yardage, the teams were in a dead heat going into the half. UBC had the slight edge in yards, with 100 rushing and 190 passing to Manitoba’s 100 rushing and 171 passing. This gridlock continued into the third quarter, with neither team able to make significant gains.
Despite this, in the latter half of the third quarter the Thunderbirds grabbed their second touchdown of the game. On first and goal for UBC, O’Connor gave the hand-off to backup quarterback Cole Meyer on the run. Meyer crashed into the Bisons defensive line and got just far enough to make it 17-13 with another Hutchins convert.
After losing the ball to a Stavros Katsantonis interception on a previous possession, the herd took the ball back and fought their way 47 yards down the field in eight plays. Mikoluff put it through the uprights from 23 yards out, bringing the Bisons within one at 17-16.
The score and stat-lines from the game are telling of just how close this game was. Manitoba actually edged UBC out on yardage, moving the ball 488 yards on offence, compared to 452 by the Thunderbirds.
Lyles was a bright spot for the Bisons in the loss, running for 115 yards on 14 carries. Lyles also would have walked away from the game with his fourth touchdown of the season, going on an impressive run to the house, but the holding penalty in the second quarter put an end to that.
Manitoba finishes their season on Oct. 28 on the road in Saskatchewan. Kickoff is 6 p.m.