Around U Sports: Hec Crighton Trophy hopeful Jonathan Sénécal lifts Carabins over Stingers

Photo courtesy: Montreal Carabins

The first week of the U Sports football season is officially in the books featuring action in Atlantic University Sport (AUS), Ontario University Athletics (OUA), and Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ).

Around U Sports is a new weekly feature on 3DownNation that will take readers across the country each week to summarize collegiate football action, highlighting standout performances and tracking possible playoff matchups. It will run on Monday mornings from the regular season through the Vanier Cup on Saturday, Nov. 26.

Saint Mary’s Huskies, 12 — St. FX X-Men, 25

The X-Men capitalized on a 13-10 halftime lead as second-year running back Malcolm Bussey rushed for his second of two touchdowns to help seal the game. Second-year defensive back Nathan Cayouette led the way for St. FX with ten tackles, while the Huskies had a rough afternoon in the penalty department as they took 14 infractions for 110 yards.

Guelph Gryphons, 11 — Western Mustangs, 34

The home side dominated this one as running backs Keon Edwards (118) and Edouard Wanadi (105) both broke the century mark, while fourth-round 2022 CFL Draft pick Danny Valente made three interceptions. The Mustangs were a powerhouse last year and it doesn’t appear as though much has changed. Hec Crighton Trophy hopeful Clark Barnes was held in check for the Gryphons, making four catches for 20 yards.

Waterloo Warriors, 41 — York Lions, 8

It would have been understandable for Waterloo’s offence to slow down following the departure of Hec Crighton Trophy winner Tre Ford, but Nolan Kaban threw for 200 yards and four touchdowns in his first career start. The Lions were the only winless team in U Sports last season and have gotten off to a bad start this year, generating a measly 127 yards of offence.

McMaster Marauders, 18 — Carleton Ravens, 24

The Ravens erased an early 10-2 deficit as fourth-year running back Joshua Ferguson rushed 23 times for a game-leading 118 yards and a touchdown. Carleton’s defensive line made life miserable for Marauders’ quarterback Andreas Dueck, sacking him six times including three from Shaiheem Charles-Brown.

Bishop’s Gaiters, 13 — Acadia Axemen, 5

The Gaiters put up an impressive 420 yards of offence in this game, though they struggled to convert that production into points. Running backs Davis Chaloux (141) and Marco A. Briones (124) both went over the century mark, while linebacker Gabriel Royer made two sacks. Acadia struggled to move the ball along the ground, averaging just under three yards per carry as a team.

Montreal Carabins, 26 — Concordia Stingers, 18

Hec Crighton Trophy hopeful Jonathan Sénécal had a strong debut this week, completing 21-of-27 pass attempts for 276 yards and three touchdowns and carrying the ball three time for 39 yards. Defensive end Philippe Lemieux-Cardinal, who went unselected in the 2022 CFL Draft, twice sacked Stingers’ quarterback Olivier Roy.

Toronto Varsity Blues, 25 — Queen’s Golden Gaels, 47

This game was 30-25 midway through the fourth quarter when the Gaels broke it wide open on a Tyler Mullen field goal and rushing touchdowns from Anthony Soles and Alex Vreeken. First-year running back Jaden Blackman stole the show as he rushed 12 times for 134 yards and returned a missed field goal 115 yards for a touchdown.

Sherbrooke Vert et Or, 3 — Laval Rouge et Or, 27

The Rouge et Or had a disappointing 5-3 record in 2021 but got off to a strong start to the new season, limiting the Vert et Or to only 144 yards of offence. Second-year quarterback Arnaud Desjardins threw for this week’s only 300-yard game, completing 28-of-38 pass attempts for 308 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.

Ottawa Gee-Gees, 19 — Windsor Lancers, 16

This game featured some hard-nose, throwback football as both teams struggled to produce through the air. Seventh-round 2022 CFL Draft pick Jean-Paul Cimankinda recorded 18 carries for 125 yards for the Gee-Gees, while Windsor’s Joey Zorn and Christopher John rushed for a combined 188 yards.

The Laurier Golden Hawks, McGill Redbirds, and Mount Allison Mounties were on a bye this past week. All three teams will open their seasons on Saturday, Sept. 3 with the Golden Hawks hosting Western, the Redbirds hosting Laval, and the Mounties hosting Bishop’s.

Canada West doesn’t start their season until Friday, Sept. 2 when the Saskatchewan Huskies visit the Calgary Dinos and the Regina Rams visit the Manitoba Bisons. The Alberta Golden Bears visit the UBC Thunderbirds the following day.

John Hodge is a CFL insider and draft analyst who has been covering the league since 2014.