A thunderstorm may have been in the forecast Saturday, but none arrived in Winnipeg.
This quiet sky turned out to be a sign for the day’s Canada West football action, as the visiting University of British Columbia Thunderbirds were silenced by a 37-19 U of M Bisons win.
Typically after a statement win, Bisons head coach Brian Dobie would be glowing about his club’s effort, but instead he was lamenting the score that could have been.
“I just feel somewhat frustrated,” Dobie said.
“Because we won the game and all that, but we won very ugly and sloppily, and we didn’t finish — we kept talking about finishing, and we just didn’t finish […] we left so many points on the board.”
Manitoba’s win was propelled by a strong showing with its defence crushing the UBC offence into submission. Nick Thomas led the way with seven tackles on the night, and the Bisons combined for three interceptions.
“I thought our defence had an outstanding game,” Dobie said.
“We gave up that [UBC] touchdown on a third and one on an unusual play — and it still counts — what else did the defence give up? No, I’m not being sarcastic, I don’t think they gave anything up.”
The herd got started quick, getting into the UBC red zone where Des Catellier found Macho Bockru with a pass less than two minutes into the game. Matt Riley knocked down the conversion for the 7-0 Manitoba lead.
The Thunderbirds defence forced a Bisons safety to get UBC on the board down 7-2, but on the other side of the ball they were far less successful.
Meanwhile, the herd went to work.
Riley put a 38-yard kick through the uprights to make it 10-2 Manitoba, and on the next UBC drive Arjay Shelley picked off a pass for a pick-six. Shelley tore down the field 44 yards for the touchdown, with a Riley conversion to make it 17-2 Bisons at the end of the opening quarter.
“I thought Arjay played great,” Dobie said.
“I mean you’re seeing him make plays and all that but nobody did anything against him. He took things away and he made some great plays — the pick-six obviously was huge.”
Riley added another field goal to make it 20-2 Bisons in the second quarter before the Thunderbirds responded. Daniel Appiah collected a Riley punt and cut his way through the Bisons for an 88-yard rushing touchdown. A successful conversion by Garrin McDonnell made it 20-9 Bisons in the second quarter.
McDonnell added another field goal to draw UBC closer, but the Bisons converted in the red zone again off a Jonathan Remple touchdown to head into half time up 27-12.
The offence-heavy first half gave way to a quiet third quarter where the herd locked UBC into its own end of the field.
The silence gave way to cheers as Bockru pulled down a 44-yard pass from Catellier to get the Bisons in scoring position once again.
Brandon O’Connor made the short yardage score and Riley the conversion to make it 34-12 Manitoba with 22 seconds left in the third quarter.
Jacob Patten picked up a 33-yard rushing touchdown early in the fourth quarter for the Thunderbirds, Riley added another field goal late and Manitoba took home the 37-19 victory.
Following Manitoba’s heartbreaking Sept. 13 loss to the University of Alberta Golden Bears, getting back in the win column was a good reset for Dobie and the herd.
“We lost a really, really emotionally tough game in Alberta,” Dobie said.
“We addressed it through the week in practice, not by talking about it but by putting [the players] in pressure situations […] and they responded and they responded well coming out of the gates.”
With the win the Bisons improve to 2-2 on the season and sit in a tie for third in the Canada West standings.
The Bisons will be back in action Sept. 28 at 2 p.m. CDT to host the University of Regina Rams at IG Field.