Around U Sports: Huskies top Rams in Football Weekend in Saskatchewan

Photo courtesy: Piper Sports Photography/Saskatchewan Huskies

U Sports is quickly approaching the midway point of the regular season and the standings are quickly starting to take shape. A pair of provincial matchups heated things up in Canada West, while two ranked OUA opponents battled in a game that was a surprising blowout at TD Place Stadium.

Around U Sports is a 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 throughout the regular season through the Vanier Cup on Saturday, Nov. 26.

Sherbrooke Vert et Or, 20 — No. 3 Montreal Carabins, 24

The unranked Vert et Or gave Montreal a run for its money, even drawing within a point of the perennial powerhouse with two minutes remaining in the game. Diminutive defensive back Marius Massé-Vincelette scored a touchdown on a 110-yard fumble recovery for Sherbrooke, while Hec Crighton Trophy hopeful Jonathan Sénécal threw for 297 yards and one touchdown for the Carabins.

UBC Thunderbirds, 16 — Manitoba Bisons, 21

The field conditions were sloppy at a rain-soaked IG Field and the teams played accordingly, combining for 235 penalty yards, six fumbles, and countless drops. UBC second-year running back Dane Kapler rushed for a career-high 175 yards, though his team struggled to convert in the red zone. This was a must-win game for the Bisons following an 0-2 start and they did enough to win despite a few key errors.

Alberta Golden Bears, 34 — Calgary Dinos, 23

Alberta first-year quarterback Eli Hetlinger continued his strong start to the season, completing 24-of-33 pass attempts for 348 yards and two touchdowns while leading his team in rushing with six carries for 44 yards and one touchdown. The Dinos scored two late touchdowns to make the score respectable but have now started the season 0-3 for the first time since 2006.

No. 10 Guelph Gryphons, 10 — No. 9 Ottawa Gee-Gees, 46

University of South Carolina transfer Jake Helfrich struggled for the Gryphons, throwing for 169 yards and two interceptions. Ottawa’s offence rolled for 540 yards on the day as third-year quarterback Ben Maracle threw for 288 yards and three touchdowns and fourth-year Amlicar Polk and seventh-round 2022 CFL Draft pick Jean-Paul Cimankinda both rushed for over 100 yards and a touchdown. Now 3-1, expect the Gee-Gees to move up in the national rankings this week.

No. 8 Mount Allison Mounties, 12 — Acadia Axemen, 9

First-year running back Brandt Burzuk led the way for Mount Allison, rushing 21 times for 115 yards and the game’s only touchdown. The Axemen continue to struggle on offence this season, averaging only 8.8 points and 138.2 passing yards per game amid a tough 0-4 start.

McMaster Marauders, 43 — Waterloo Warriors, 0

What a way for the Marauders to get their first win of the season after forfeiting a victory over York due to the use of an ineligible player. McMaster’s defence was stifling as third-year defensive end Owen Hubert got home for six total tackles and two sacks, while second-year linebacker Tayo Smith scored on a 45-yard pick-six.

Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks, 32 — York Lions, 1

Wilfrid Laurier’s two top running backs took over this game as second-year Quentin Scott and third-year Tanner Nelmes combined for 32 carries for 248 yards and one touchdown. The Lions rank dead last in the nation in offensive yards per game (210.5) and points per game (6.0) amid another challenging season.

No. 7 St. FX X-Men, 21 — Bishop’s Gaiters, 16

The X-Men got off to a 21-1 lead early in the second half and never looked back, maintaining a perfect record at 3-0. Next week will feature a battle of AUS heavyweights as St. FX takes on Mount Allison at Alumni Field in Sackville, N.B.

McGill Redbirds, 16 — Concordia Stingers, 42

The Redbirds had a 16-7 lead in the first half but a late second-quarter touchdown run by Concordia third-year quarterback Olivier Roy sparked what ended up being a big win for the Stingers. Former Peter Gorman Trophy winner Jeremy Murphy had a breakout performance with eight catches for 149 yards, while second-year running back Dwanté Morgan rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown.

Carleton Ravens, 17 — No. 5 Queen’s Golden Gaels, 49

Queen’s bounced back brilliantly from last week’s big loss to Western, dominating a respectable Ravens team from start to finish. Fifth-year quarterback James Keenan completed 19-of-22 passes for 364 yards and four touchdowns, two of which went to second-year receiver Nicodeme Kwemo. First-year running back Yann Longa made a big impact as well, rushing for 112 yards and three touchdowns.

Toronto Varsity Blues, 7 — Windsor Lancers, 37

The Varsity Blues got out to an early 7-0 lead before Windsor’s defence took over the game, limiting Toronto to only 157 yards of total offence. Second-year quarterback Danny Skelton had the best start of his career, throwing for 259 yards and a touchdown. Now 2-1, the Lancers will visit Carleton next week with a chance to win three straight games for the first time since 2014.

No. 2 Saskatchewan Huskies, 11 — No. 6 Regina Rams, 10

The Huskies came out on top in Football Weekend in Saskatchewan on the strength of a last-minute 32-yard field goal by David Solie. Hec Crighton Trophy hopeful Mason Nyhus threw for 279 yards in the win, while first-year Noah Pelletier completed just under half his passes for 201 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Regina may have lost this one, but the Rams proved they can hang with their provincial rivals after opening the season in last place in the Canada West preseason coaches’ poll.

Three teams were on a bye this week, including the No. 1 Western Mustangs (3-0), No. 4 Laval Rouge et Or (2-1), and Saint Mary’s Huskies (1-2).

U Sports football standings

Canada West (CW)

Saskatchewan Huskies, 3-0
Alberta Golden Bears, 2-1
Regina Rams, 2-1
Manitoba Bisons, 1-2
UBC Thunderbirds, 1-2
Calgary Dinos, 0-3

Ontario University Athletics (OUA)

Western Mustangs, 3-0
Queen’s Golden Gaels, 3-1
Ottawa Gee-Gees, 3-1
Windsor Lancers, 2-1
Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks, 2-1
Carleton Ravens, 2-2
Waterloo Warriors, 1-2
Toronto Varsity Blues, 1-3
York Lions, 1-3
McMaster Marauders, 1-3
Guelph Gryphons, 1-3

Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ)

Montreal Carabins, 3-0
Laval Rouge et Or, 2-1
Sherbrooke Vert et Or, 2-2
Concordia Stingers, 1-2
McGill Redbirds, 0-3

Atlantic University Sport (AUS)

St. FX X-Men, 3-0
Mount Allison Mounties, 3-0
Saint Mary’s Huskies, 1-2
Bishop’s Gaiters, 1-2
Acadia Axemen, 0-4

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.