TORONTO, ON – The U SPORTS football playground was full of surprises in week one of the new season.
Though the RSEQ had a relatively average kick-off to the year, the OUA and AUS both had explosive games that garnered national, and international, attention. Canada West will begin their 2023 campaigns on Friday.
Let’s get into what was a week of “rouge awakenings.”
AUS: All eyes on New Brunswick
The StFX X-Men showed they’re still the team to beat in the AUS with their convincing win over the Bishop’s Gaiters, but the biggest game in U SPORTS football this past weekend was in Sackville, N.B. between the Acadia Axemen and Mount Allison Mounties.
With less than a minute remaining in the fourth quarter, Acadia trailed 13–12 as they attempted a field goal from inside the 40-yard line. Axemen kicker Thomas Venoit hit the left upright and the Mounties took possession with a one–point lead.
Mount Allison couldn’t finish the job on the ensuing drive, punting with 10 seconds on the clock. With almost no time or chance to successfully return the ball for a touchdown, Acadia’s Luke MacMillan punted it right back into the Mounties endzone, hoping for a one-point rouge.
Mount Allison quickly punted the ball out and back to the Axemen, but the Mounties failed to give the Acadia returner a five-yard halo before making the tackle, drawing a penalty with no time left on the board and giving the Axemen one last shot at winning the game.
Venoit scored a field goal from 15 yards out on the final play to win 15–13.
The final-minute sequence was so wild, it was featured on FOX’s college football TikTok account on Monday.
OUA: Upsets and basketball scores
Though the game of the week happened in New Brunswick, Ontario had its fair share of storylines.
The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks pulled off a low–scoring upset over this year’s presumptive Yates Cup contenders, the Queen’s Gaels, 11–10 on Saturday. Laurier didn’t score a single touchdown, relying on kicker Dawson Hodge’s leg to push them over the Gaels. Hodge scored three field goals and two rouge points, including the game-winning rouge with less than three minutes to play.
Laurier’s Ethan Bayfield returned a missed field goal to just outside their endzone to lock up the victory in the final seconds.
The Windsor Lancers also made their case for why they should be feared in the OUA, defeating the McMaster Marauders 21–17. The Western Mustangs didn’t stay out of the limelight, either, setting a new school record for largest win differential following their 83–0 shutout over the York Lions.
The uOttawa Gee-Gees and Guelph Gryphons both won their respective week one matchups in decisive fashions, while the Carleton Ravens had the weekend off — or an extended training camp, depending on how you look at it.
RSEQ: Nothing new
Laval and Montreal started their seasons as everyone expected — with convincing victories.
The Rouge et Or bulldozed the Sherbrooke Vert et Or, proving that red goes better with gold than green does. Laval quarterback Arnaud Desjardins threw three touchdowns, including two to receiver Kevin Mital. The Rouge et Or defence overwhelmed Sherbrooke QB Anthony Robichaud, who gave up three interceptions.
The McGill Redbirds couldn’t handle the mighty Carabins, losing 43–11. Montreal QB Jonathan Senecal lit up the Redbird defence, passing for 397 yards and four touchdowns. McGill QB Eloa Latendresse-Regimbald was dynamic in the air and on the ground — 154 passing yards and team-leading 64 rushing yards — but didn’t have enough support around him to overcome the Carabins.
The Concordia Stingers were on their bye, preparing for their week two game where they’ll host Montreal.
Canada West: Loading…
Western Canada won’t officially start their regular season until Friday, but last week did see some preseason action in the prairies.
The Manitoba Bisons were road warriors last Thursday, beating the Regina Rams 26–7. The Bisons dominated on the ground, with 241 rushing yards — running back Finley Duncan led the way with 103 yards on 13 carries.
Maya Turner, the first woman to score points in U SPORTS football, put up two field goals in the victory.
“It’s not a question of gender, it’s a question of technique and the process and everything that goes with it. She’s talented, she works hard. She proved it. She’s proved it all through training camp. She got our first points on the board today,” Bisons’ head coach Brian Dobie said post-game.