Around U Sports: Western finishes perfect 8-0 as OUA concludes regular season

Photo courtesy: Western Mustangs

This past week featured a pair of major upsets in U Sports but the Western Mustangs remained unscathed, finishing the season with a perfect 8-0 record. Three conferences still have one week of regular season action remaining, though the OUA is heading to the postseason. Check back to 3DownNation later this week for a breakdown of all three OUA playoff matchups.

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.

Western Mustangs, 38 — Ottawa Gee-Gees, 18

The Mustangs got 100-yard performances from running backs Keon Edwards and Edouard Wanadi to finish the regular season with a perfect 8-0 record for the fourth time since 2017. Ottawa’s Jean-Paul Cimankinda has been unstoppable at times this year but was stifled by Western’s defence, rushing 15 times for 47 yards and two touchdowns. The Gee-Gees sit third in the OUA standings with a 6-2 record, their highest finish since 2018 and second-highest finish since 2010.

Concordia Stingers, 37 — McGill Redbirds, 30 (OT)

The Stingers punched their ticket to the postseason after Ali El-Sehemawi sent the game to overtime on a 27-yard field goal followed by a 21-yard touchdown pass from Olivier Roy to Jacob Salvail. McGill’s first-year quarterback Eloa Latendresse-Regimbald threw for 278 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception and led his team in rushing, carrying the ball 11 times for 122 yards and two touchdowns.

St. FX X-Men, 52 — St. Mary’s Huskies, 4

The X-Men have now won seven straight games and have a chance to go undefeated on the year if they beat Mount Allison next week. Second-year quarterback Silas Fagnan threw for 295 yards and two touchdowns, while second-year running back Malcolm Bussey rushed for 68 yards and three touchdowns. St. FX’s defence allowed just 146 yards of offence and forced six turnovers as second-year defensive end Zechariah Willems made three sacks.

Carleton Ravens, 35 — Guelph Gryphons, 24

Carleton got two touchdown passes from fifth-year quarterback Tanner DeJone to finish 5-3 on the season, booking a ticket to the OUA quarterfinals. Corey Grant, who played eleven years in the CFL with Hamilton, Montreal, and Saskatchewan, became the first head coach in program history to reach five wins in his first season at the helm. The Gryphons finished the season 1-7, recording their worst record since the turn of the century and out of the playoffs for the first time since 2011.

Toronto Varsity Blues, 13 — McMaster Marauders, 10

McMaster had a chance for a potential game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter but second-year defensive back Ryan Collins intercepted a pass at midfield to seal the win for the Varsity Blues. Toronto has now made the playoffs in back-to-back years after failing to qualify for a postseason berth in the two preceding decades and will visit Queen’s in the quarterfinal round.

Waterloo Warriors, 11 — Windsor Lancers, 39

The Lancers got out to a 31-point lead in the second quarter and never looked back, limiting the Warriors to 175 yards of offence with six takeaways and five sacks. Windsor has made the playoffs for the first time since 2014 and will look to win their first postseason game since 2011 when they take on the Ottawa Gee-Gees next week, while Waterloo’s three-year postseason streak has come to an end.

Queen’s Golden Gaels, 30 — Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks, 11

The Golden Gaels led 13-11 heading into the fourth quarter before blowing the game wide open with late touchdowns from Jared Chisari and Anthony Soles. The win improved Queen’s record to 7-1, matching their best win total since going a perfect 8-0 in 2009. Wilfrid Laurier finished the year 5-3 and will host a postseason game for the second consecutive year.

Montreal Carabins, 5 — Sherbrooke Vert et Or, 12

The Vert et Or were outgained by over 200 yards in this game but won the turnover battle 5-0 to get a big win in front of 6,340 fans at Stade de l’Université de Sherbrooke. These two teams will meet again in the RSEQ semifinal round on Saturday, Nov. 5, creating a rematch from last year’s postseason. Montreal has now lost back-to-back regular season games for the first time since October 2019.

Acadia Axemen, 8 — Bishop’s Gaiters, 39

First-year quarterback Justin Quirion had an excellent day for the Gaiters, throwing for 236 yards and four touchdowns in his first start with the team. Bishop’s defence limited the Axemen to 180 yards of total offence, led by fifth-year linebacker Liam Patton with 4.5 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and one forced fumble. Acadia has finished their season with an 0-8 record, going winless for the first time this century.

Alberta Golden Bears, 30 — Manitoba Bisons, 44

The teams combined for 1,080 yards of offence and 322 penalty yards, making for one of the most wide-open games of the U Sports season. Fifth-year quarterback Des Catellier threw for 418 yards and four touchdowns in his final career home game, while second-year defensive back Sebastien Reid made a game-sealing interception. The Bisons can clinch a postseason berth next week with a win over Regina, while a loss would allow Alberta to leapfrog Manitoba with a win over UBC.

Regina Rams, 30 — Calgary Dinos, 7

First-year quarterback Noah Pelletier threw for 208 yards and two touchdowns, while first-year running back Marshall Erichsen ran for his first career touchdown. The Rams can finish no higher or lower than second in the Canada West standings but still have something to play for as a win next week would move them to 6-2 on the year, matching their best record since joining U Sports in 1999. Calgary has now missed the postseason in back-to-back years for the first time since 2005-2006.

Saskatchewan Huskies, 29 — UBC Thunderbirds, 35

UBC ruined Saskatchewan’s bid for a perfect season despite losing starting quarterback Garrett Rooker in the first quarter due to injury. Second-year passer Derek Engel threw for 160 yards and two touchdowns in relief, while second-year running Isaiah Knight had a monster day with 231 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns. Hec Crighton Trophy front-runner Mason Nyhus threw for 441 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception in the loss with a last-minute drive stalling at UBC’s 17-yard line.

The Laval Rouge et Or (6-1), York Lions (1-7), and Mount Allison Mounties (4-3) were each on a bye this past week.

U Sports football standings

Canada West (CW)

Saskatchewan Huskies, 6-1
Regina Rams, 5-2
UBC Thunderbirds, 4-3
Manitoba Bisons, 3-4
Alberta Golden Bears, 2-5
Calgary Dinos, 1-6

Ontario University Athletics (OUA)

Western Mustangs, 8-0
Queen’s Golden Gaels, 7-1
Ottawa Gee-Gees, 6-2
Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks, 5-3
Carleton Ravens, 5-3
Windsor Lancers, 4-4
Toronto Varsity Blues, 4-4
McMaster Marauders, 2-6
Guelph Gryphons, 1-7
Waterloo Warriors, 1-7
York Lions, 1-7

Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ)

Laval Rouge et Or, 6-1
Montreal Carabins, 5-2
Sherbrooke Vert et Or, 4-4
Concordia Stingers, 2-5
McGill Redbirds, 1-6

Atlantic University Sport (AUS)

St. FX X-Men, 7-0
Mount Allison Mounties, 4-3
Bishop’s Gaiters, 3-3
Saint Mary’s Huskies, 3-3
Acadia Axemen, 0-8

Editor’s note: this article has been edited to correct the format of the OUA playoffs.

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.