This week’s action in the Canada West conference saw an air show in Saskatoon, a first-place showdown in Vancouver, and a ground and pound display in Winnipeg. Below are the results.
Alberta Golden Bears 36 — 25 Manitoba Bisons
Ed Ilnicki ran up, down, and around the Manitoba Bisons’ defence all night long, helping his Alberta Golden Bears (1-4) secure their first victory of the season with a 36-25 win over Manitoba (1-4).
Ilnicki finished the contest with 44 carries for 278 yards and a major, and was instrumental in helping his team stick with the Bisons for three quarters, before erupting for 20 unanswered points in the fourth frame. The fifth-year Ilnicki now has 474 yards rushing in the last two games alone, and has instantly put himself into the conversation for the Hec Creighton Award.
Despite being out-gained by over 200 yards and losing the time of possession by nearly 17 minutes, Manitoba still found themselves with a 25-16 lead early in the fourth quarter. This was thanks in large part to a 33-yard scamper by third-string running back Somto Anyadike, who was making his debut after starter Jamel Lyles went down just before halftime. Alex Christie was also unavailable due to a prior injury.
But Alberta took over in the final 12 minutes of play, as Ilnicki continued to set his team up in second and short situations. Standout redshirt freshman Nathan Rowe also put his best foot forward, finishing with over 100 yards receiving and three touchdowns — two of which came in the final quarter with the Bisons missing their best cover corner, Marcel Arruda-Welch.
(#9) Regina Rams 50 — 40 Saskatchewan Huskies
The cross-province rivalry in Saskatchewan did not disappoint on Friday night, as the ninth-ranked Rams (3-2) and Huskies (2-3) put up a combined 1,143 yards of total offence in an absolute barnburner.
Regina’s Noah Picton and Saskatchewan’s Kyle Siemens continued to prove why they are two of the best pivots in the nation, as each threw five touchdown passes. And despite a thrilling second half comeback, the Huskies were unable to overcome a 29-10 halftime deficit, as Picton and company escaped with the win.
The defending Hec Creighton winner from Regina was on his A-game in this one, as four-of-his-five touchdown passes came in the game’s opening 30 minutes. He finished the contest with 384 passing yards, distributed the ball to eight different players, and also added 65 yards on the ground and a major.
The X factor in the contest, however, was Regina running back Atlee Simon, who had his best game of the season with 163 yards rushing yards and a touchdown. He also picked up 72 yards receiving and a score, with his two majors now tying Jason Clermont for the most in school history.
And while Saskatchewan got a spirited performance from Siemens — who threw for 489 yards — the Huskies were unable to establish the run, as Colton Klassen finished the game with just six carries. This was due in large part to the fact that, being down by 19 at halftime, the Green Dogs were forced to go almost exclusively to the air. It’s unfortunate, as Klassen ended the contest averaging an impressive seven yards per carry on the ground.
(#2) Calgary Dinos 31 — 17 (#6) UBC Thunderbirds
After being stymied in the entire first half, the second-ranked Calgary Dinos offence woke up in the third quarter, as the Prehistorics strung together 21-unanswered points to defeat the sixth-ranked UBC Thunderbirds.
The hosts were yet again without the services of two of their biggest offensive playmakers in Marcus Davis and Will Watson, and it showed in the second half, as Michael O’Connor was unable to keep pace with Calgary’s Adam Sinagra. The Dinos’ pivot yet again had all day to throw, and finished with 351 yards and three majors — two of which came in the third quarter.
Much like the battle in Saskatoon, the run game became a factor in the final 30 minutes, with Jeshrun Antwi and Robert Stewart finishing with a combined 141 yards and a touchdown on the day. UBC’s Ben Cummings and Shane Noel on the other hand, ended with just 67 yards.