Around U Sports: Regina Rams clinch first postseason berth since 2017

Photo courtesy: Piper Sports Photography/Regina Rams

To quote longtime NFL head coach Jim Mora: “Playoffs? Don’t talk about — playoffs? You kidding me? Playoffs?”

Yes, that’s right — playoffs. The U Sports regular season is already reaching its final weeks with a number of teams having already clinched berths in the postseason.

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. 9 Manitoba Bisons, 22 — No. 2 Saskatchewan Huskies, 43

The Bisons looked ready to record the upset after carrying a three-point lead into halftime but the Huskies dominated from there on out, outscoring the visitors 24-0. Third-year running back Ted Kubongo had an outstanding game for Saskatchewan, scoring touchdowns in three different ways — a 102-yard kickoff return, a 12-yard reception, and a 47-yard run. The Huskies have now beaten all five of their Canada West rivals with four of those wins coming in lopsided games.

UBC Thunderbirds, 39 — Calgary Dinos, 29

Second-year receiver Jason Soriano caught a slick 87-yard touchdown pass from second-year quarterback Garrett Rooker to end UBC’s three-game losing streak. A 203-yard performance from first-year running back Matthieu Clark still wasn’t enough for the Dinos to secure their first win, falling to 0-5 on the year. Calgary hasn’t had a winless season since 1966, though the club forfeited a 15-6 win over Saskatchewan that year due to an eligibility violation.

No. 10 Carleton Ravens, 7 — No. 7 Ottawa Gee-Gees, 37

The 53rd Panda Game drew a massive crowd of 23,078, which is larger than any the Ottawa Redblacks have drawn to TD Place Stadium this season. The score was 17-7 going into the fourth quarter before two field goals from Campbell Fair and two touchdown runs from Jean-Paul Cimankinda blew the game wide open. The Gee-Gees have now won four straight Panda Games. To read more about this year’s Panda Game, click here.

Saint Mary’s Huskies, 25 — Acadia Axemen, 23

Fourth-year kicker Ben George missed a potential game-tying field goal on the final play of regulation as the Axemen fell to 0-5. Fourth-year quarterback Duncan Patterson threw for 216 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception in the win, while second-year running back Malik Williams recorded his first career 100-yard game.

Toronto Varsity Blues, 32 — Waterloo Warriors, 24

Penalties and turnovers cost the Warriors a game they should have otherwise won as second-year quarterback Nolan Kaban threw three interceptions and lost one fumble. The Varsity Blues haven’t finished above .500 this century and, at 3-3, still have a chance to accomplish that this season. The bad news is that next week’s game is against the powerhouse Western Mustangs.

Sherbrooke Vert et Or, 38 — Concordia Stingers, 14

The Vert et Or have firmly established themselves as the third-best team in the RSEQ on the strength of second-year running back Lucas Dalin’s 164-yard, one-touchdown rushing performance. The defence was also stifling at Loyola Stadium, limiting the Stingers to 216 yards of total offence and intercepting third-year quarterback Olivier Roy three times.

No. 1 Western Mustangs, 47 — McMaster Marauders, 14

The Mustangs built a 43-0 lead early in the third quarter before calling off the dogs (horses?) for most of the second half. Third-year running back Keon Edwards had a fifth-straight 100-yard game, rushing for 107 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries, while second-year defensive back Jackson Findlay, second-year defensive lineman Emerson Paleczny, and third-year defensive lineman Bruce Maas all recorded sacks.

Mount Allison, 6 — Bishop’s Gaiters, 19

The Gaiters are still pushing to potentially host a playoff game after this big win, which was sealed with a touchdown run by third-year quarterback Mason McGriskin. The Mounties have struggled through the air all year and their issues were on full display in this game as first-year quarterbacks CJ Valenti and Alex Cassidy combined for just 37 passing yards.

York Lions, 2 — No. 4 Queen’s Golden Gaels, 61

York led this game 2-0 following an early safety but things quickly derailed from there. Second-year quarterback Alex Vreeken threw for 223 yards and a season-high three touchdown passes for Queen’s, two of which went to third-year receiver Nicodeme Kwemo. Third-year running back Anthony Soles ran for three touchdowns but was mostly held in check by the Lions following a dominant performance last week, rushing 15 times for 41 yards.

Alberta Golden Bears, 14 — No. 6 Regina Rams, 19

The Golden Bears came close to winning this one, driving 66 yards in the final 40 seconds of the game before running out of time at Regina’s 14-yard line. Alberta first-year quarterback Eli Hetlinger left the game due to injury in the third quarter and was carted off the field with his foot in a boot, according to Daniella Ponticelli. Fifth-year defensive lineman Anthony Bennett recorded 1.5 sacks in the win to improve his total to 6.5 on the season, helping the Rams clinch their first playoff berth since 2017.

Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks, 49 — Windsor Lancers, 11

First-year quarterback Taylor Elgersma had the best game of his young collegiate career, throwing for 221 yards and three touchdowns to a trio of different Golden Hawks’ receivers. First-year running back Quentin Scott recorded his second 100-yard game of the season and scored a touchdown for a fourth consecutive contest. Windsor remains in a position to earn a postseason berth for the first time since 2014, though they’ll likely have to win another game to officially clinch it.

McGill Redbirds, 17 — No. 5 Laval Rouge et Or, 36

It’s no surprise that Hec Crighton Trophy hopeful Arnaud Desjardins had a big game, throwing for 345 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception for Laval, but what about McGill quarterback Eloa Latendresse-Regimbald? The first-year passer threw for 325 yards and one touchdown against a solid Rouge et Or defence and led his team in rushing, carrying the ball six times for 58 yards and a score. Third-year receiver Darius Simmons had a career day, making eight catches for 226 yards and one touchdown.

Three teams were on a bye this week, including the Guelph Gryphons (1-4), No. 3 Montreal Carabins (4-0), and No. 8 St. FX X-Men (4-0).

U Sports football standings

Canada West (CW)

Saskatchewan Huskies, 5-0
Regina Rams, 4-1
Manitoba Bisons, 2-3
Alberta Golden Bears, 2-3
UBC Thunderbirds, 2-3
Calgary Dinos, 0-5

Ontario University Athletics (OUA)

Western Mustangs, 5-0
Queen’s Golden Gaels, 5-1
Ottawa Gee-Gees, 5-1
Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks, 3-2
Toronto Varsity Blues, 3-3
Carleton Ravens, 3-3
Windsor Lancers, 2-3
Waterloo Warriors, 1-4
McMaster Marauders, 1-4
Guelph Gryphons, 1-4
York Lions, 1-5

Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ)

Montreal Carabins, 4-0
Laval Rouge et Or, 4-1
Sherbrooke Vert et Or, 3-2
Concordia Stingers, 1-4
McGill Redbirds, 0-5

Atlantic University Sport (AUS)

St. FX X-Men, 4-0
Mount Allison Mounties, 3-2
Bishop’s Gaiters, 2-2
Saint Mary’s Huskies, 2-2
Acadia Axemen, 0-5

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.