Around U Sports: Laval returns from bye week with a vengeance

Photo courtesy: Laval Rouge et Or

U Sports has officially reached the midway point of its regular season and the list of potential postseason matchups is starting to take shape. The Rouge et Or came roaring back from their bye week, Queen’s showed why they are firmly entrenched as the second-best team in the OUA, Saskatchewan asserted dominance in Canada West, and St. FX established AUS superiority.

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 through the Vanier Cup on Saturday, Nov. 26.

No. 2 Saskatchewan Huskies, 38 — No. 9 Alberta Golden Bears, 16

Saskatchewan quarterback Mason Nyhus bounced back from a relatively quiet performance against Regina last week, throwing for 351 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception as fourth-year receivers Daniel Perry and Caleb Morin both eclipsed the century mark. Fourth-year running back Jonathan Rosery had a career day for the Golden Bears, recording 221 yards off just 16 touches to lead his team in rushing and receiving.

No. 6 Regina Rams, 21 — UBC Thunderbirds, 13

The Rams gained sole possession of second place in Canada West in front of a massive crowd at Thunderbird Stadium as first-year quarterback Noah Pelletier threw two touchdowns to fourth-year receiver Bennett Stusek. Second-year quarterback Garrett Rooker threw for 363 yards and a touchdown to nine different receivers but his team struggled to convert in the red zone for the second straight week.

No. 3 Montreal Carabins, 29 — McGill Redbirds, 12

Montreal improved to 4-0 on the season after limiting McGill to just 172 yards of offence. Fifth-year defensive lineman Philippe Lemieux-Cardinal and second-year linebacker Nicky Farinaccio led the way with 2.5 sacks apiece, helping the Carabins record nine in the game. This was a good game to skip if don’t like penalties as the teams combined for 35 infractions for 291 yards.

No. 8 Ottawa Gee-Gees, 21 — Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks, 18

Fourth-year kicker Campbell Fair made a 55-yard walk-off field goal to win this one, which is the longest kick in U Sports so far this season. Seventh-round 2022 CFL Draft pick Jean-Paul Cimankinda continues to lead the way for Ottawa, recording 208 yards and a touchdown on 26 touches to lead his team in rushing and receiving. Now on a three-game winning streak, expect the Gee-Gees to move up the national rankings this week.

No. 4 Queen’s Golden Gaels, 62 — Guelph Gryphons, 11

Third-year running back Anthony Soles had a record-setting day, rushing 19 times for 244 yards and four touchdowns. He now leads the nation in rushing yards per game and is one of many reasons Queen’s is expected to make a deep playoff run come November. University of South Carolina transfer Jake Helfrich was pulled following a miserable start for the Gryphons, completing 2-of-14 pass attempts for 30 yards.

York Lions, 7 — Toronto Varsity Blues, 39

This game was broken open in the second quarter when fourth-year linebacker James Greig returned a Noah Craney fumble 26 yards for a touchdown. Second-year running back Luka Stoikos set a pair of career highs with 124 rushing yards and three touchdowns, while fourth-year offensive lineman Mojtaba Mehry caught a touchdown pass from Kinsale Philip. The Lions would be the only winless team in the OUA were it not for McMaster forfeiting their game from early September due to the use of an ineligible player.

Windsor Lancers, 7 — Carleton Ravens, 24

The Ravens took a 17-0 first-quarter lead when second-year defensive back Othman Brahm intercepted second-year Danny Skelton’s pass and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown. It wasn’t a banner day for the Lancers through the air as Skelton and third-year quarterback Josh Shim combined for a mere 75 net yards through the air.

Waterloo Warriors, 3 — No. 1 Western Mustangs, 66

This game was as one-sided as they come as the Mustangs outgained the Warriors 684 yards to 102 yards. It’s not uncommon for Western’s running back duo of Keon Edwards and Edouard Wanadi to both rush for 100 yards in the same game but this week a third ball-carrier — second-year Troy Thompson — joined them in going over the century mark.

Calgary Dinos, 4 — Manitoba Bisons, 46

The Bisons improved to 2-2 after exploding for 22 points in the second quarter of this contest. Second-year running back Breydon Stubbs set a new career high with 169 yards and a touchdown along the ground as Manitoba rushed for 352 yards, the fifth-best total in school history. The Dinos have now opened the regular season with four consecutive losses for the first time since 2006.

Concordia Stingers, 14 — No. 5 Laval Rouge et Or, 60

Laval returned from its bye week with a vengeance, scoring four offensive touchdowns in the second quarter of this game alone. Second-year quarterback Arnaud Desjardins had his second five-touchdown performance of the season, while Hec Crighton Trophy hopeful Kevin Mital has now caught eight touchdown passes through only four games on the year.

No. 7 St. FX X-Men, 26 — No. 10 Mount Allison Mounties, 7

St. FX established AUS dominance over the previously undefeated Mounties by building a 26-0 lead on the strength of two touchdowns from first-year receiver Zachary Houde. The X-Men have now won eleven consecutive regular season games dating back to October 2019 and have won their first four games this season by an average margin of 12.8 points.

Bishop’s Gaiters, TBD — Saint Mary’s Huskies, TBD

This game was postponed due to the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona. It remains unclear when it will be played.

Three teams were on a bye this week, including the Acadia Axemen (0-4), Sherbrooke Vert et Or (2-2), and McMaster Marauders (1-3).

U Sports football standings

Canada West (CW)

Saskatchewan Huskies, 4-0
Regina Rams, 3-1
Manitoba Bisons, 2-2
Alberta Golden Bears, 2-2
UBC Thunderbirds, 1-3
Calgary Dinos, 0-4

Ontario University Athletics (OUA)

Western Mustangs, 4-0
Queen’s Golden Gaels, 4-1
Ottawa Gee-Gees, 4-1
Carleton Ravens, 3-2
Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks, 2-2
Windsor Lancers, 2-2
Toronto Varsity Blues, 2-3
Waterloo Warriors, 1-3
McMaster Marauders, 1-3
York Lions, 1-4
Guelph Gryphons, 1-4

Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ)

Montreal Carabins, 4-0
Laval Rouge et Or, 3-1
Sherbrooke Vert et Or, 2-2
Concordia Stingers, 1-3
McGill Redbirds, 0-4

Atlantic University Sport (AUS)

St. FX X-Men, 4-0
Mount Allison Mounties, 3-1
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.