Around U Sports: Manitoba Bisons clinch playoff spot following wild finish against Calgary Dinos

Photo courtesy: David Mahussier/Bisons Sports

The first round of the playoffs in Ontario University Athletics got underway this past weekend, while the Concordia Stingers handed the Montreal Carabins their first loss of the season, the Sherbrooke Vert et Or won their first game of the year, the St. FX X-Men capped another perfect regular season, and the Manitoba Bisons and Calgary Dinos played to one of the wildest finishes in U Sports history.

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.

Manitoba Bisons, 23 — Calgary Dinos, 35

The Dinos had to beat Manitoba by over 13 points to make the playoffs, an opportunity that arose following recent surprise upset wins over UBC and Saskatchewan. Calgary scored 23 points in the first quarter on touchdowns from Ben Britton, Nick Sua, and Matt Sibley and held a 20-point lead in the dying moment of the game after Vince Triumbari booted four late field goals. On the final play from scrimmage, Matthieu Clarke fumbled and Nick Conway returned it for a Bisons touchdown. Jackson Tachinski completed a pass to DeShawn Le Jour for the two-point conversion, punching Manitoba’s ticket to the postseason with a 12-point loss and ending Calgary’s miracle playoff run.

Waterloo Warriors, 0 — No. 3 Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks, 69

The Golden Hawks ripped through the quarterfinal round of the OUA playoffs with ease as star quarterback Taylor Elgersma threw for 360 yards and three touchdowns while he, Tanner Nelmes, Quentin Scott, and Darion Bacik-Hadden combined for 332 yards and six touchdowns along the ground. Johari Hastings intercepted Nick Orr as the Warriors managed only 207 yards of total offence to Laurier’s 685. The Golden Hawks will host the Windsor Lancers in next week’s OUA semifinal.

Ottawa Gee-Gees, 10 — No. 7 Queen’s Golden Gaels, 15

Queen’s won a fifth straight game on the strength of their defence, which allowed only 207 yards of total offence and got home for six tackles for loss and four sacks. Jared Chisari carried the ball 28 times for 140 yards in the win, while Anthony Soles scored the game’s only touchdown on a five-yard run. The Gaels have now won five straight games after opening the season 1-3 and allowed only 51 points during that stretch. They will visit the Western Mustangs next week in the OUA semifinal.

Carleton Ravens, 11 — No. 9 Windsor Lancers, 14

The Lancers hosted their first playoff game since 2014 and won their first postseason game since 2011 in a contest they led 4-2 after three quarters. Danny Skelton threw three interceptions before being replaced by Nick Dimovski, who threw for 89 yards and a game-winning touchdown to Evan Martin. Kolade Amusan made 3.5 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and one forced fumble for Windsor, while Othman Brahm picked off two passes for the Ravens. The Lancers have advanced to the OUA semifinals and will visit Wilfrid Laurier next week.

No. 5 St. FX X-Men, 40 — Saint Mary’s Huskies, 10

The Huskies kept this game within nine points until St. FX blew it open in the fourth quarter, scoring 21 unanswered points. Malcolm Bussey carried the ball 23 times for 159 yards and three touchdowns, completing another great season along the ground out east, while Isaac Ombotimbe chipped in a 58-yard punt return touchdown for the X-Men. St. FX has now gone undefeated for a third straight regular season.

Mount Allison Mounties, 8 — Bishop’s Gaiters, 18

Brendan Griffiths caught six passes for 107 yards and one touchdown to help the Gaiters reach six regular season wins for only the second time this century. Bishop’s will host Mount Allison again next week in the first round of the AUS playoffs in a rematch of last year’s conference semifinal, which saw the Mounties win in a 15-12 upset.

McGill Redbirds, 28 — Sherbrooke Vert et Or, 41

Marc-Andre Shaw caught six passes for 138 yards and one touchdown for Sherbrooke to help the team score a season-high 41 points. The win not only helped the Vert et Or avoid their first winless season since 2003 but also clinched a playoff berth as they’ll visit the Montreal Carabins in the RSEQ semifinal round next week. Eloa Latendresse-Regimbald threw for 159 yards and two interceptions in the loss, though he also ran the ball seven times for 88 yards and two touchdowns.

Concordia Stingers, 16 — No. 2 Montreal Carabins, 14

The Carabins suffered their first loss of the season despite playing their starters at home, missing the chance to go undefeated for the first time since 2004. Franck Tchembe and Dwante Morgan combined for 187 yards along the ground for the Stingers, while Adrien Guay scored the club’s lone touchdown. Concordia’s defence dominated after allowing two early touchdowns, forcing Montreal to punt on all five of their second-half possessions, while Eric Maximuik kicked the game-winning 42-yard field goal on the game’s final play.

No. 8 Saskatchewan Huskies, 43 — Regina Rams, 11

The visitors dominated the battle of Saskatchewan as Ryker Frank ran for 172 yards and two touchdowns. Anton Amundrud, who has struggled to protect the football at times this season, threw for two touchdowns and one interception for the Huskies, while Ethan Laing was a game-wrecker on defence, recording 5.5 tackles, three tackles for loss, two sacks, and one interception. The Rams finished the season with a 1-7 record, their worst finish since 2015 when they went 0-8.

No. 10 UBC Thunderbirds, 23 — No. 6 Alberta Golden Bears, 10

The Thunderbirds clinched first place in Canada West as Isaiah Knight ran for 128 yards and one touchdown at Foote Field. Garrett Rooker threw for 178 yards and one touchdown for UBC in the cold and wind, while the Golden Bears managed only 90 yards through the air. Matthew Peterson dressed for Alberta after leaving last week’s win over Manitoba with a leg injury but wasn’t as dominant as he’s been at times this season, carrying the ball 15 times for 102 yards.

The No. 1 Western Mustangs (OUA), No. 4 Laval Rouge et Or (RSEQ), and Acadia Axemen (AUS) were on byes this past week.

U Sports standings

Canada West (CW)

No. 10 UBC Thunderbirds 6-2
No. 6 Alberta Golden Bears 6-2
No. 8 Saskatchewan Huskies 5-3

Manitoba Bisons 3-5
Calgary Dinos 3-5

Regina Rams 1-7

Ontario University Athletics (OUA)

No. 1 Western Mustangs 8-0
No. 3 Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks 7-1
No. 9 Windsor Lancers 6-2
No. 7 Queen’s Golden Gaels 5-3
Ottawa Gee-Gees 4-4
Carleton Ravens 4-4
Waterloo Warriors 3-5
Guelph Gryphons 3-5
Toronto Varsity Blues 2-6
McMaster Marauders 2-6
York Lions 0-8

Réseau du Sport Etudiant (RSEQ)

No. 2 Montreal Carabins 7-1
No. 4 Laval Rouge et Or 6-2
Concordia Stingers 5-3
Sherbrooke Vert et Or 1-7
McGill Redbirds 1-7

Atlantic University Sport (AUS)

No. 5 St. FX X-Men 8-0
Bishop’s Gaiters 6-2
Mount Allison Mounties 3-5
Saint Mary’s Huskies 2-6
Acadia Axemen 1-7

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.