TORONTO, ON – It was a busy Saturday in U SPORTS football last week, with all of Week 5’s games taking place throughout the day.
That meant a total of 11 games on tap all the way across the country for the first time this year. That’s right – after 686 long days, CanWest football made re-emerged with all six teams in action, including a 2019 Hardy Cup rematch between Saskatchewan and Calgary.
If you’ve paid any attention to U SPORTS football this year, you know the RSEQ has had more than its fair share of drama so far in 2021. Thrilling victories, shocking upsets, crazy plays; you name it, we’ve seen it in Quebec this season, and Week 5 was no different. There was even a little bit of history to top it off.
The OUA featured a number of intriguing matchups, including the Battle of Waterloo between the Warriors and Golden Hawks, the Ottawa Gee-Gees playing in honour of Francis Perron and the Guelph Gryphons making their season debuts against the vaunted Western Mustangs.
Finally, in Atlantic Canada, the 2019 Loney Bowl runners-up from Bishiop’s played their inaugural 2021 contest against Mount Allison, while the Acadia Axemen and St. Mary’s Huskies duelled it out in Nova Scotia.
WATERLOO 36 | LAURIER 12
The first of two Battles of Waterloo was held at University Stadium on Saturday, with both teams looking to get off to 2-0 starts. The Golden Hawks were in tough against a stout Waterloo defence, and, too make matters tougher, had to start rookie Taylor Elgersma at quarterback after the Week-1 injury to starter Connor Carusello. We’ve been no stranger to blowouts in the Battle of Waterloo, but ones favouring the Warriors have been all but nonexistent. That wasn’t the case here, though. James Basalyga scored his first of two touchdowns on the day just over 90 seconds in, and the Warrior defence forced four Elgersma interceptions – all on consecutive series’ – on route to a 36-12 win, their second in the Battle of Waterloo in the last three seasons. The one negative from a Waterloo perspective: an injury to star corner and electrifying return man Tyrell Ford, who went down in the third quarter after being shoved out of bounds on a return. His status for Week 3 is still unknown.
OTTAWA 7 | QUEEN’S 30
Just a week after the tragic death of Ottawa Gee-Gees defensive lineman Francis Perron, his grieving teammates headed to Kingston for a Week 2 clash with the Gaels. The Gee-Gees said throughout the week it was important to play this game in Perron’s honour – that this is what he would have wanted them to do. But, after keeping the game scoreless through a quarter, the Gee-Gees gave up a 24-yard TD to Richard Burton and then after a Ben Maracle interception, Gaels quarterback James Keenan scored from a yard to drive the lead to 14-0. Queen’s would add a third major before halftime, and were able to cruise to a 30-7 win. The Gee-Gees didn’t play terribly on either side of the ball, but a couple missed opportunities and some short fields did them in. Marcale’s health will be a question mark headed into the Panda Game with Carleton after he took a late hit and had to be removed from the game on Ottawa’s final drive. Queen’s, meanwhile, played a solid game in all three phases, and quietly sit atop the OUA East at 2-0 with victories over both Ottawa-based programs through two weeks.
CARLETON 30 | YORK 17
The York Lions played their first home game of 2021 in Week 2 against the Carleton Ravens. Both teams were eyeing bounce-back performances after Week-1 losses to the aforementioned Queen’s and Laurier, respectively. This scoreline is slightly deceiving, as Carleton jumped out to a 30-0 lead early in the 4th before York reeled off 17 straight late points to make the score look more respectable. Ravens quarterback Tanner DeJong had a terrific game through the air, throwing for 264 yards and three touchdowns. He spread the ball out nicely, connecting with six different receivers. Glodin Mulali lead the charge, catching six passes for 112 yards and a touchdown, while Keeton Bruggeling scored twice on short receptions. The Carleton ground game was effective, as well, as Nathan Walker rushed for 83 yards on 19 carries. This was an important win for Carleton, especially when you consider how they won it. They see themselves as Yates contenders in the East, so to win this game handily and keep pace with Queen’s was a must in this shortened season.
WESTERN 21 | GUELPH 23
This was a game many people in thee OUA were keeping an eye on. A lot of folks, including myself, had said Western was taking a step back in 2021. They didn’t look like it in Week 1 after a resounding win over McMaster, but could they replicate that performance in Week 2? This was a game of field position and missed opportunities. There was but one touchdown scored through three quarters, a 2-yard Shawn Lal pass to Kiondre Smith in the 2nd to give Guelph a 7-6 lead. An Eric Stranz 45-yard field goal put Guelph up 16-14 late in the third. Then in the 4th, Deandre Rose put them up 9 with a 2-yard run to make it 23-14 Guelph with 7:04 to play. Western would respond, however, just 1:23 later on a 61-yard catch and run by Savaughn Magnaye-Jones. That made it 23-21 with 5:41 left. The Mustangs would have one final drive to try and win it, but the Gryphons defence made a huge 3rd-down stand just a yard in front of the sticks to turn the ball over on downs. That play preserved what is, even this year, a shocking win for Guelph over the Mustangs.
OUA WEEK 3 SCHEDULE:
Ottawa [0-2] @ Carleton [1-1] (Sat, Oct 2 – 12:00 pm – Panda Game)
Waterloo [2-0] @ McMaster [0-1] (Sat, Oct 2 – 1:00 pm)
Laurier [1-1] @ Western [1-1] (Sat, Oct 2 – 1:00 pm)
Guelph [1-0] @ Windsor [0-1] (Sat, Oct 2 – 2:00 pm)
Queen’s [2-0] @ Toronto [1-0] (Sat, Oct 2 – 2:00 pm)
ST. MARY’S 10 | ACADIA 33
The St. Mary’s Huskies and Acadia Axemen came in to the first of their home-and-home series 0-1 after losing close games in the opening week of the season (Acadia by the slimmest of margins, 10-9 to Mount Allison). I predicted these two teams would be the ones to watch in the AUS this year, and St. Mary’s hasn’t exactly made that take look like a sound one through two weeks. This tilt was a bit of a strange one in that all the scoring came in the first half (and there was lots of it). It was also a game full of big plays. First, it was Duncan Patterson going deep to Matt Gledhill for a 41-yard touchdown. Then, Michael Adams found Scott Perry on a hitch-and-go for a 62-yard score. Those scores made it 16-1 Acadia, at which point St. Mary’s made its move courtesy of a big play from the defence. Ryan Butler picked off a Patterson pass and ran it back 73 yards to the house to cut the lead in half. Then after Acadia responded, it was another huge play from the Acadia offence, this one a 46-yard touchdown romp from Cole Estabrooks, his second score of the game to make it 30-10. Ben George would add a field goal on the final play of the half to extend the lead to 33-10. The teams played to a scoreless second half, and the Axemen netted its first win of the season while the Huskies dropped to 0-2.
MOUNT ALLISON 10 | BISHOP’S 7
The Mount Allison Mounties might be the AUS poster boy for, ‘they don’t ask how, they ask how many.’ They eked out a 10-9 season-opening victory over the Acadia Axemen thanks to a late rouge point on missed field goal, and needed more heroics to beat the Bishop’s Gaiters in Week 2. It was another defensive contest for Mount Allison, which isn’t surprising. Defence was their calling card coming into the season, and that has certainly stood the test so far. Their offence, though, a different story after not scoring a major in Week 1. So, judging by those numbers, this was a very on-brand game for the Mounties against the 2019 Loney Bowl finalists. The score was 7-2 Bishops in the 4th, with all the game’s points being scored through either safeties or rouges. With 2:37 left, the Mounties got a huge interception deep in Bishop’s territory courtesy of Dallas Cook. The Mounties got the ball inside the 5 when Justin Vogels found sophomore Adam Shambemiradam for a 4-yard go-ahead touchdown. The Gaiters got two more cracks at a tie or a win, but both drives ended with Maxime Bouffard interceptions and somehow, despite only scoring 20 points in two games, the Mounties are 2-0 and in sole possession of first in the AUS.
AUS WEEK 3 SCHEDULE:
Acadia [1-1] @ St. Mary’s [0-2] (Sat, Oct 2 – 2:00 pm AT)
Bishop’s [0-1] @ St. FX [1-0] (Sat, Oct 2 – 3:00 pm AT)
BYE: Mount Allison
SHERBROOKE 39 CONCORDIA 42 (OT)
There has been no shortage of thrillers in the RSEQ this season, and a (fairly) common denominator in those games has been the Concordia Stingers. After losing its first game handily to Laval, the Stingers reeled off back-to-back heart-stopping wins over the Montreal Carabins and their anglophone rivals, the McGill Redbirds. They had a chance to beat a 1-2 Sherbrooke team and potentially hold first place in the conference all to themselves, definitely something everyone was expecting at the start of the season. This game was a shootout from beginning to end, with seemingly no end to the scoring in sight. It was 26-14 Concordia at the half, but the Vert et Or refused to go away. It was punch-counter punch the entire second half. With Concordia up 36-25 in the 4th, Anthony Robichaud located Will Marchand for a 7-yard score, and then found Kevin Morin for the 2-point convert too make it a 36-33 game. Then, on their final drive of regulation, Louis Tardif hit from 29 yards out to tie it at 36 and send it to overtime. The Vert et Or got the ball first in the extra frame and Tardif made good on a 28-yard field goal to give his team the lead. But, on Concordia’s first possession of OT, Olivier Roy found Jaylen Greaves in the corner of the end zone, in double coverage, from 9 yards out to win it for the Stingers in walk-off fashion, 42-39. That touchdown from Roy, his fifth of the day, capped off a historical day for the sophomore pivot. He broke the RSEQ record for passing yards in a game with 580, eclipsing the previous mark set by McGill’s Matt Connell in 2007 (557). The previous Concordia passing yards record was held by Terrence Morsink, who tossed for 516, ironically also against Sherbrooke, in 2010. In terms of the U SPORTS history books, Roy now has the second-most yards passing in a game in Canadian university football history, behind only Greg Vavra of Calgary who threw for 627 in 1983.
McGILL 7 | MONTREAL 31
The McGill Redbirds really had a chance to muddy the waters in the already-logjammed RSEQ standings with a road win over the Montreal Carabins on Saturday. Had that occurred, they would have sandwiched themselves in a three-way tie with Laval and the aforementioned Carabins for 2nd in the conference at 2-2. That, however, was not in the cards. The Carabins lost QB Jonathan Senecal on the game’s first series after he took a sack. 4th-year backup Dimitri Morand came in to replace Senecal, and was effective. While far from flashy, he went 19-26 for 148 yards, 2 TD’s and an interception. It was the ground attack that paced the hometown Carabins in this one. Betrand Beaulieu rushed for 102 yards on just five carries – including a huge 70 yard run – and Natan Girouard-Longlois carried it nine times for 79 yards. Montreal got out to a 25-0 first-quarter lead against a McGill offence that struggled to move the ball. Dimitrios Sinodinos and Jacob Samuels combined to throw for just 170 yards on 13-28 passing. The Carabins added a pair of second-half field goals from Michael Arpin to solidify a dominant 31-7 win and move back into a tie with Concordia atop the RSEQ.
RSEQ WEEK 6 SCHEDULE
Laval [2-2] @ McGill [1-3] (Sat, Oct 2 – 1:00 pm ET
Sherbrooke [1-3] @ Montreal [3-1] (Sat, Oct 2 – 2:00 pm ET
REGINA 17 | MANITOBA 21
The CanWest portion of the U SPORTS football schedule opened with a game between two teams who experienced heartbreak the last time they took the field. The Rams missed out on the 2019 postseason in a tiebreaker with Manitoba, and the Bisons came within a point of stunning Calgary in last season’s Hardy Cup semi-final. It was the Rams who struck early here, thanks to two Josh Donnelly touchdown passes, to take a 16-0 lead. The Bisons cut the lead in half on a 51-yard hook-up between QB Des Catellier and receiver Kai Madsen. Then, with the score 17:-13 Rams early in the 4th, defensive lineman got home for the strip sack, scoop-and-score major to give Manitoba its first, and only, lead of the game. Calgary got down near the red zone late with a chance to win it, but an incompletion on 3rd & 11 ended all hope, as the Bisons opened the season on the right foot with a hard-fought 21-17 win.
UBC 19 | ALBERTA 44
The Alberta Golden Bears came in to 2021 looking to take that next step after making he playoffs in 2019 for the just the second time in the last nine years. UBC, meanwhile, struggled in 2019 after losing Michael O’Connor, and limped to a 2-6 record. This game took awhile to get going, the score just 3-1 after the first quarter, but the Golden Bears went on the prowl. They scored 17 in the 2nd, thanks in large part to a pair of touchdowns from dual-threat sophomore tailback Matthew Peterson – one through the air and one on the ground. That gave them a 20-1 halftime lead. After UBC got back into it with 10 unanswered points, the Golden Bears offence got back in the groove as Peterson scored his third major of this season opener on a pass from backup quarterback Luke Hornung. Then starter Brad Lunhardt connected with 5th-year running back Dryden Kalesnikoff on a 70-yard screen that went for another touchdown. That score ended any hope of a UBC comeback as the Bears made a statement in their opener.
SASKATCHEWAN 20 | CALGARY 34
The Saskatchewan Huskies and Calgary Dinos squared off in a 2019 Hardy Cup rematch, the Huskies seeking revenge following a 29-4 drubbing in last season’s CanWest title game. They held a lead through most of the first half, but trailed at 14-10 halftime thanks to a 24-yard TD reception from Jalen Philpot. The Dinos offence proved to be too much for Saskatchewan as they added a couple Vince Triumbari field goals and a 3-yard Javier Williams touchdown run in the second half to lock down a 34-20 victory. The Huskies offence wasn’t the issue in this one. Mason Nyhus threw for 238 yards and a pair of touchdowns and they amassed nearly 100 yards on the ground, most of that damage done by veteran tailback Adam Machart. The issue for Sask in this one? Point prevention. Josiah Joseph was electric in his debut as the heir apparent to the graduated Adam Sinagra. He was 29-34 through the air for an outstanding 434 yards and three touchdowns. The biggest sources of that output: the Philpot twins. Jalen and Tyson combined to haul in 21 passes (13 and 8, respectively) for 401 yards (246/155) and all three Joseph touchdown tosses, Jalen with two. If no one can slow down those two game-breakers at receiver for the Dinos, it could be a long, long year for CanWest defences.
CAN WEST WEEK 2 SCHEDULE:
Saskatchewan [0-1] @ UBC [0-1] (Fri, Oct 1 – 7:00 pm PT
Manitoba [1-0] @ Alberta [1-0] (Fri, Oct 1 – 7:00 pm MT
Calgary [1-0] @ Regina (Sat Oct 2 – 2:00 pm CST