Around U Sports: Western Mustangs edge Windsor Lancers to maintain perfect record

Photo: Brandon VandeCaveye

It was a busy weekend of U Sports football as the Toronto Varsity Blues got their first win of the season, the St. FX X-Men narrowly defeated the Bishop’s Gaiters to maintain their perfect record, the Saskatchewan Huskies handed the UBC Thunderbirds their first lost of the campaign, and the Ottawa Gee-Gees won a fifth straight Panda Game in dramatic fashion in front of a massive crowd.

Around U Sports is a weekly feature on 3DownNation that takes readers across the country to summarize collegiate football action, highlighting standout performances and tracking possible playoff matchups. It will run for the full season through the Vanier Cup in Kingston, Ont. on Saturday, Nov. 25.

St. FX X-Men, 34 — Bishop’s Gaiters, 31

The Gaiters held a 21-7 lead at halftime and outgained St. FX by almost 100 yards of offence on Friday but were unable to hand the X-Men their first regular season loss since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. St. FX battled back to tie in regulation and the teams traded field goals in the first two rounds of overtime before Xavier Gervais missed a 42-yard attempt for Bishop’s, allowing Ben Hadley to boot a 31-yard game-winner on St. FX’s subsequent possession.

UBC Thunderbirds, 31 — Saskatchewan Huskies, 34

The Huskies fell three spots behind UBC in the U Sports football rankings this past week and appear to have taken that personally as they bested the Thunderbirds at Griffiths Stadium. Anton Amundrud bounced back from a four-interception performance last week to throw for 304 yards and two touchdowns, both of which were caught by Ottawa Redblacks’ draft pick Daniel Perry. Meanwhile, Nixen Voll and Finn Marcotte-Cribb both picked off UBC’s Garrett Rooker as Saskatchewan limited Isaiah Knight to 71 yards along the ground.

Regina Rams, 27 — Alberta Golden Bears, 46

Alberta got back to their winning ways, creating a three-way tie atop the Canada West standings at 4-1 alongside Saskatchewan and UBC. The Golden Bears scored in all three phases of the game as Mack Bannatyne snagged a 69-yard pick-six and Isaac Wegner brought a late kickoff back 54 yards to the house. The Rams generated 532 yards of offence and 36 first downs, though they struggled to consistently convert that production into points. Alberta running back Matthew Peterson strengthened his bid for the Hec Crighton Trophy as he carried the ball 11 times for 167 yards and one touchdown.

McMaster Marauders, 19 — Toronto Varsity Blues, 33

The Varsity Blues got their first win of the season on the strength of their defence, which scored a jaw-dropping 21 points. Brandon Thibodeau returned a fumble 25 yards for a touchdown, while Ryan Stewart and Joshua Carter both recorded a pick-six. McMaster fullback Jacob Mason, a fifth-round pick of the Montreal Alouettes in the 2023 CFL Draft, caught an eight-yard touchdown pass from Keagan Hall.

Guelph Gryphons, 23 — Waterloo Warriors, 30

The Gryphons took a 23-14 lead with 2:18 remaining in the fourth quarter before the Warriors came storming back as a 68-yard catch by James Basalyga set-up a seven-yard touchdown run from Anthony Miller. Waterloo forced Marshall McCray to fumble on Guelph’s subsequent drive and Cole Crossett kicked a 23-yard field goal for the win. The Gryphons executed several laterals on the ensuing kickoff and Caelen Fraser recovered for Waterloo to return it for a touchdown.

Queen’s Golden Gaels, 87 — York Lions, 0

In a season of humiliating losses, York suffered its most lopsided defeat so far against a Queen’s team that badly underachieved through the first half of the season. Jared Chisari carried the ball 17 times for 286 yards and five touchdowns in a performance that will surely earn him U Sports offensive player of the week honours. The Lions have now lost all six of their games this season by a combined score of 434-39.

Campbell Fair hits 55-yard walk-off winner as Ottawa Gee-Gees claim 54th Panda Game

Western Mustangs, 21 — Windsor Lancers, 10

The Lancers no longer have a perfect record but the club proved they can hang with the OUA’s perennial powerhouse. Javonni Cunningham was the standout for Windsor as he caught three passes for 72 yards and returned a punt 80 yards for a touchdown. Evan Hillock threw for 248 yards and one touchdown for the Mustangs, hitting Seth Robertson for a 30-yard score. Now 6-0, Western has to win its remaining games against Toronto and Wilfrid Laurier to finish with a perfect record in the regular season.

Laval Rouge et Or, 46 — McGill Redbirds, 14

Arnaud Desjardins dominated this game from start to finish for the Rouge et Or, throwing for 263 yards and three touchdowns and carrying the ball six times for 55 yards and one touchdown. Thomas Landry and Cristophe Beaulieu both intercepted McGill quarterback Eloa Latendresse-Regimbald, while Landry, Justin Cloutier, and William Quenneville got home for sacks. Laval star receiver Kevin Mital did not play due to an ankle injury.

Montreal Carabins, 34 — Sherbrooke Vert et Or, 13

The Carabins continued their perfect season with another big win, leaving Sherbrooke still searching for answers at 0-5. Hassane Dosso caught three passes for 101 yards and two touchdowns for Montreal, while Mohamed Elshal was a game-wrecker on defence with five total tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and two interceptions. Carl Marchessault was the standout for the Vert et Or as he made 5.5 total tackles, two tackles for loss, one forced fumble, and one interception.

Mount Allison Mounties, 17 — Acadia Axemen, 9

The Mounties got their second win of the season as Jet Agette, Adryon Thompson, and Curtis Squires picked off Acadia’s three quarterbacks, who combined for just 12 completions on 40 attempts. Brandt Burzuk was a workhorse for Mount Allison as he carried the ball 31 times for 149 yards, while Acadia’s Riley Comeau made seven total tackles and a pair of sacks.

Ottawa Gee-Gees, 18 — Carleton Ravens, 16

23,300 fans attended the annual Panda Game at TD Place Stadium, which was captured by the University of Ottawa for the fifth straight time. Carleton held a two-point lead when the Gee-Gees took possession with 36 second remaining and the offence generated a quick first down to set up a 55-yard game-winning field goal from Campbell Fair, who was a sixth-round pick of the Calgary Stampeders in the 2023 CFL Draft. Josh Janssen threw for 251 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions in his second start for Ottawa, while Tristan Rinaldis and Kaseem Ferdinand both scored touchdown for the Ravens.

Calgary Dinos, 21 — Manitoba Bisons, 34

The Bisons scored 34 unanswered points after allowing an early touchdown as Jackson Tachinski threw for 171 yards and one touchdown and carried the ball 13 times for 110 yards and two touchdowns. Manitoba dominated the line of scrimmage as six ball-carriers combined for 316 yards along the ground, while Gob Deng had another impressive outing for the Dinos as he made five catches for 138 yards and one touchdown.

The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks (OUA), Concordia Stingers (RSEQ), and Saint Mary’s Huskies (AUS) were on a bye this past week.

U Sports standings

Canada West (CW)

No. 8 Saskatchewan Huskies 4-1
No. 5 UBC Thunderbirds 4-1
No. 9 Alberta Golden Bears 4-1
Manitoba Bisons 2-3

Regina Rams 1-4
Calgary Dinos 0-5

Ontario University Athletics (OUA)

No. 1 Western Mustangs 6-0
No. 7 Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks 5-0
No. 4 Windsor Lancers 5-1
Ottawa Gee-Gees 3-2
Guelph Gryphons 3-3

Carleton Ravens 2-3
Queen’s Golden Gaels 2-3
Waterloo Warriors 2-3
Toronto Varsity Blues 1-4
McMaster Marauders 1-5
York Lions 0-6

Réseau du Sport Etudiant (RSEQ)

No. 2 Montreal Carabins 5-0
No. 3 Laval Rouge et Or 4-1
Concordia Stingers 2-2
McGill Redbirds 1-4
Sherbrooke Vert et Or 0-5

Atlantic University Sport (AUS)

No. 6 St. FX X-Men 5-0
No. 10 Bishop’s Gaiters 3-2
Mount Allison Mounties 2-3
Saint Mary’s Huskies 1-3
Acadia Axemen 1-4

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.