TORONTO, ON – Another week, more wildness.
Being around the landscape of U SPORTS football the last six years, I can’t remember a time where you genuinely didn’t know what you would get from week to week. There’s been the odd surprise, but nothing quite on the level we’ve seen this year. Every week, you think you know what will happen, but, as has been seen often in 2021, every week, you’re left shocked by at least one – often more – result.
Whether a simple anomaly, or a sign of actual parity across the country, that uncertainty has made this season wildly entertaining and made the job of U SPORTS Top 10 voters an unenviable one.
Week 6 in U SPORTS football brought us the annual Panda Game between Ottawa and Carleton (the first of two games between the Ottawa rivals), a wild one between Bishop’s and St. FX, and our weekly shocker between Calgary and Regina. Let’s take a look at how it all went down.
OTTAWA 19 | CARLETON 17
The Panda Game always generates a ton of fanfare around the nation’s capital. This year was no different, despite the two teams coming in with inverse records through two games. Carleton had to be considered a favourite, but Ottawa, despite being 0-2, hadn’t put up good numbers in those losses. Carleton (listed as the ‘home’ team for this one) got out to a 7-0 lead before the Gee-Gees responded with 16 unanswered points. Holding a 16-7 lead, the Gee-Gees gave up a touchdown from rookie QB Reid Vankoughnett – spelling injured starter Tanner DeJong – to Khalik Johnson to cut the lead to two. Carleton would then take the lead, 17-16, on a 32-yard field goal from Brandon Forcier. But, with 1:00 to play, Ottawa kicker Campbell Fair hit a clutch, 45-yard game-winning field goal to propel the Gee-Gees to a 19-17 victory. The win is Ottawa’s first of the season and their third straight in the Panda Game; the Gee-Gees now lead the all-time series 35-17. Since 1995, each team has gone on a streak of three or more wins – Ottawa from 1995-98, 2013 (Carleton’s program was dormant from 1999-2012); Carleton from 2014-2017 and now Ottawa again from 2018-2021.
WATERLOO 13 | McMASTER 34
The Waterloo Warriors came into Week 3 ranked 4th in the country, with the McMaster Marauders ranked 10th. This is another game where you felt like you know what you’d get, considering McMaster was beaten handily by Western in Week 1 and the Warriors had won each of their first two games easily. But, in a game very reminiscent of the last time these two teams squared up, the hometown Marauders came to play. They scored points on each of their first three possessions and held a commanding 27-2 lead at the break. Waterloo had nothing for the Mac passing game, and Tre Ford, while he threw for over 350 yards, could only finish one drive with a major. Andreas Dueck, meanwhile, was nearly perfect for the Marauders, going 28-33 for 355, 3 touchdowns and no picks. This game was over early, and now the Warriors find themselves just a game up on McMaster in the crowded OUA West.
LAURIER 15 | WESTERN 36
The Laurier Golden Hawks are simply trying to survive without starting quarterback Conner Carusello, who injured his shoulder in a Week 1 win over York. Taylor Elgersma struggled in his first start against the Waterloo Warriors, and Laurier was looking to get back on track against a Western Mustangs team that was coming off a two-point loss to Guelph. The score of this game doesn’t translate to how the game played out. Laurier actually led this game through three quarters and most of the 4th. With the Hawks leading 16-14, Savaughn Magnaye-Jones returned a punt 55 yards to pay dirt to give Western its first lead of the day. Then late in the final frame with Western up 8, electrifying running back Tre Humes – who ran for over 100 yards, as did his right-hand man Keon Edwards – scored touchdowns on back-to-back series to ice it. This is a big come-from-behind win for Western, how is now tied atop the West division with Waterloo.
GUELPH 12 | WINDSOR 14
The Guelph Gryphons were riding high after a huge win over the powerhouse Western Mustangs. The Windsor Lancers, on the other hand, were coming off a lopsided loss to the Waterloo Warriors. So, that in mind, you – yet again – think you know what’s going to happen, right? Well, yet again, not so fast. This was exactly the game Windsor needed to play, as they’ve had issues scoring points so far in 2021. That’s uncharacteristic for them; usually their issue – as it was in Week 1 – is point prevention. Not this week, however. They held the Gryphons to four Eric Stranz field goals, and did just enough offensively themselves. The game’s only touchdown was a 23-yard pass from veteran pivot Sam Girard to Alex Bormais midway through the 3rd quarter. All of a sudden, Windsor is 1-1 and very much in the OUA West playoff picture, with all six teams separated by just one win. Their downfall could be having to face Western twice in the final four games of the season, but as we’ve already been made familiar of – even the Mustangs aren’t infallible.
QUEEN’S 37 | TORONTO 11
Although the OUA East division isn’t as deep as the West, the emergence of the Queen’s Gaels as a front runner has made it deeper. I’m not sure many had them as the only undefeated team in the OUA through three weeks on their bingo card, but, as we’ve come to know in this U SPORTS season – expect the unexpected. Queen’s earned that third consecutive win with a convincing 35-11 win over the Toronto Varsity Blues. Queen’s lead 26-1 at one point in the first half en route to the victory. The only Toronto touchdown of the game was a 66-yard connection between veterans Clay Sequiera and Will Corby. Leading the way for the Gaels was 4th-year tailback Rasheed Tucker, who ran for almost 200 yards (194 to be precise) and two touchdowns in the victory.
OUA WEEK 4 SCHEDULE
Toronto [1-2] @ Carleton [2-1] (Fri, Oct 8 – 6:00 pm ET)
Guelph [1-1] @ Queen’s [3-0] (Fri, Oct 8 – 6:00 pm ET)
McMaster [1-1] @ Windsor [1-1] (Sat, Oct 9 – 2:00 pm ET)
York [0-2] @ Ottawa [1-2] (Sat, Oct 9 – 5:00 pm ET)
BYES: Waterloo, Western, Laurier
ACADIA 14 | ST. MARY’S 7
It was a tumultuous week for the Acadia Axemen, how had to forfeit a victory over the St. Mary’s Huskies due to using an academically-ineligible player. Their 33-11 win came off the board and was credited as a 1-0 win for the Huskies. The teams completed their home and home series last week, Acadia looking to put the mistake, which they self-reported, behind them. They did just that in this one, winning a defensive battle that saw only one offensive score – a 27-yard Julien Poirier-McKiggan TD reception. Acadia had a 13-0 lead at the break before a 35-yard scoop-and-score from Tre Bhullar got the Huskies on the board. The Axemen defence, which has been stout in the early going this season, held off the Acadia offence the rest of the way, and were able to earn what is now their first victory of the season. The teams combined for just 319 yards of offence, with both starters throwing for less than 100.
BISHOP’S 29 | ST. FX 32
This game was the most high-octane contest in Week 6, with the Gaiters and X-Men going toe-to-toe. After Bishop’s took an early lead, St. FX reeled off 21 straight points to take control. The visitors weren’t going away quietly, however, as they managed to score a pair of majors and a rouge to tie the game at 22 apiece The X-Men appeared poised to take the lead on a field goal with just over 4:00 left, but the Gaiters blocked the punt, and Jake Kelly ran it back 51 yards to give Bishop’s the lead back, 29-22. After the Gaiters conceded a safety to make it 29-24, the X-Men got the ball back with 1:44 to go. Silas Fagnan drove the ball down field 75 yards on 8 plays, capped by a 31-yard touchdown strike to his brother Isaac to retake the lead. The X-Men would hang on to win a thriller, 32-29 and move to 2-0 on the season. Silas Fagnan put together another stellar performance, and leads the AUS in many passing categories, including completions, completion percentage, touchdowns, interceptions and passer rating, among others.
AUS WEEK 4 SCHEDULE:
St. FX [2-0] @ Mount Allison [2-0] (Fri, Oct 8 – 7:00 pm AT)
St. Mary’s [1-2] @ Bishop’s [0-2] (Fri, Oct 8 – 7:00 pm ET)
LAVAL 55 | McGILL 2
This was a game that could have been considered a measuring stick for the McGill Redbirds and Laval Rouge et Or. Laval beat McGill to open the season at home, but just narrowly, 17-11. Laval already had two losses coming in, and a third would make the playoffs a little less of a certainty. McGill was able to contain that high-powered Rouge et Or offence in Week 1; this game, though, not so much. The Rouge et Or took it to the Redbirds in this one, leading at one point 44-0. They found the end zone six times, and held McGill to – get this – 57 yards of total offence, and baited them in to 14 penalties for 128 yards. With the loss, McGill is 1-4, and will need to beat Sherbrooke in Week 7 to have a realistic shot at a playoff push. Laval’s victory moves them to 3-2 with on the year, good for in 3rd place, a game behind their Thanksgiving weekend opponent, the Concordia Stingers.
SHERBROOKE 7 | MONTREAL 43
This was another mismatch on paper, but Sherbrooke’s only win of the season came against Laval, so, you never know. As it turned out, talent won out in this one, despite Sherbrooke’s best effort. The Vert et Or kept it close for the entire first half, trailing 19-3 at the break. The Carabins took a bit of a different approach in this game, burning Sherbrooke with field goals. Placekicker Michael Arpin had a day to remember for Montreal, hitting eight – yes, 8 – of nine field goal attempts. Montreal only scored two touchdowns, a 29-yard Dimitri Morand pass to Carl Chabot and an 11-yard run from Natan Girouard-Langlois. From a Sherbrooke perspective, their defence was solid considering the point output, and Montreal has to feel relatively lucky to come away with a win, despite winning handily, because of their inability to finish drives.
RSEQ WEEK 7 SCHEDULE
McGill [1-4] @ Sherbrooke [1-4] (Sat, Oct 9 – 2:00 pm ET)
Concordia [3-1] @ Laval [3-2] (Sun, Oct 10 – 1:00 pm ET)
SASKATCHEWAN 43 | UBC 15
The Saskatchewan Huskies finished their two-game season-opening road trip at UBC last Friday against a young Thunderbirds team. The Huskies scored on their first two offensive possessions – the big blow a 43-yard Adam Machart scamper. The Thunderbirds responded to cut it to 14-7 on a 6-yard run from QB Garrett Rooker, but that was as close as the T-Birds would get. The veteran-laden Huskies added 20 unanswered points off the UBC touchdown, and walked out of Thunderbirds stadium with a 43-15 win. Rooker showed flashes through the air, throwing for 283 yards on 25-34 passing. It was the UBC defence that did them in, as they allowed 626 yards of offence in the loss, including 206 combined rush yards between Machart and Josh Ewanchyna.
MANITOBA 31 | ALBERTA 17
Both the Manitoba Bisons and Alberta Golden Bears earned impressive Week 1 victories, and were looking to build off those as two programs looking to take that next leap within the CanWest playoff picture. It was the Bisons who took that leap. They controlled play in the first half, led by Gavin Cobb, who put up three touchdowns (including a 91-yard punt return) and 209 all-purpose yards in the first 30 minutes en route to a 24-2 halftime lead. The teams traded 3rd-quarter majors and the Bisons led 31-9 after three. In the 4th, Brad Lunhardt led a TD drive that ended with him running it in from a yard out. The Golden Bears had a chance to make it a one-score game off a fumble recovery, but crucial penalties sent them backwards, and they were unable to get any closer than 14, falling 31-17 to drop to 1-1 on the season. Manitoba is 2-0, and the only undefeated team in Canada West through two weeks.
CALGARY 21 | REGINA 34
That’s right: Manitoba is the only undefeated team in the conference. That means the Dinos must have lost! They did, to the Regina Rams, in this week’s biggest upset victory. The score was tied at 10 late in the first half when Rams QB and Ottawa Gee-Gees transfer Sawyer Buettner snuck in from a yard out to give Regina a 17-10 lead. Then after the Dinos turned it over on downs deep in their own territory, Josh Donnelly found D’Sean Mimbs from five yards out. to make it 24-10 Rams heading to halftime. They added to it in the 3rd on a 48-yard catch and run by Riley Boersma to go up by 21. Calgary would start to creep their way back into it, but the early deficit was too much to overcome as the Rams defeat the Dinos in the first shocker of the Canada West season to even both teams’ records at 1-1.
*ALL CANADA WEST TEAMS ARE OFF FOR THANKSGIVING WEEKEND*