The second week of U SPORTS football action delivered unexpected drama for some of the nation’s best teams.
The RSEQ and AUS’s elite had steady weekends while the OUA and Canada West saw a more competitive playing field than expected, as only a handful of plays separated us from seeing whole different conferences west of Quebec.
Let’s take a closer look at what went down in week two.
Scary hours in the OUA
In what was supposed to be an easy watch for Western Mustangs fans at their Orientation Week home-opener, the back-to-back defending Yates Cup champions looked human in a tight win over the McMaster Marauders. After a frustrating 23-yard performance from star running back Keon Edwards, Western led a now 0-2 team by just five points with under a minute left in the game when linebacker Max Nixon scored his first pick-six of the season, sealing the Mustangs’ 34-22 victory.
“This isn’t good enough. This isn’t gonna beat the best teams in the country playing like that,” Western head coach Greg Marshall said after the game.
Week two wasn’t easy for the undefeated Laurier Golden Hawks, either. Laurier was in a shootout with the Carleton Ravens until the final 30 seconds when the Ravens offence failed to mount a comeback on their last drive, falling to the Golden Hawks 20-15.
The Ottawa Gee-Gees, a third team whose early undefeated season was in danger on Sunday, also won by a single possession despite not scoring a single touchdown. Ottawa was led by their kicker, Campbell Fair, who scored all 15 points for the Gee-Gees on five field goals, and their top running back, Amlicar Polk, who ran for 191 yards on 23 carries in the 15-10 win.
Ottawa’s passing game struggled with quarterback Ben Maracle still out with a lower-body injury sustained in week one against the Waterloo Warriors.
The rest of the OUA was even keel, as the Windsor Lancers and Waterloo Warriors finished in the win column while the 0-1 Queen’s Gaels had the bye week to regroup.
Canada West: Will the real Slim Shady please stand up?
Unlike the rest of U SPORTS football, Canada West had their first regular season games this week. And after the dust settled, there was no clear top team.
The Alberta Golden Bears and Pandas, Saskatchewan Huskies and UBC Thunderbirds all escaped with a 1-0 record, while the Calgary Dinos, Manitoba Bisons and Regina Rams were winless to begin their 2023 campaigns.
Saskatchewan barely defeated Manitoba 30-27 despite the Bisons snatching three interceptions — two courtesy of defensive back Sebastien Reid — from Huskies QB Anton Amundrud. After scoring just a single touchdown — compared to Regina’s two — UBC can thank their kicker, Kieran Flannery-Fleck, who scored all but six of the Thunderbirds points in their 25-10 field goal-heavy win over the Rams.
The only blowout in the west was in Calgary when the Dinos suffered a lopsided defeat at the hands of the Golden Bears. Alberta QB Eli Hetlinger threw for 380 yards and two touchdowns while the Golden Bears defence forced three turnovers — one fumble and two interceptions.
So, while Alberta looked strong in their opener, their opponent will likely be staring at a bottom-feeder record in 2023, meaning Canada West fans will have to wait at least another week to get a clearer picture of the potential Hardy Cup contenders.
AUS: No L’s on the horizon for St. FX
The St. FX X-Men kept their opponent to single digits and scored over 20 points of their own for the second consecutive week. Despite trailing 6-4 coming out of halftime, the X-Men scored 19 unanswered points — including an 83-yard punt return for a touchdown from Ben Harrington — and blanked the Acadia Axemen in the second half to win 23-6.
St. FX’s defence also notched two interceptions from linebacker Dyton Blackett and defensive back Nathan Cayouette.
After having a bye in week one, the Saint Mary’s Huskies kicked off their season on an unfortunate note, falling to the Bishop’s Gaiters 38-10. The Huskies recorded two interceptions from defensive backs Jassin States-McClean and Max Van Nieuwkoop, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Bishop’s run game from ruining their season-opener — five Gaiters combined for 183 yards on the ground, including running back David Chaloux’s 83 yards on 16 carries.
The Mount Allison Mounties had their bye week to reset after a disappointing week one loss to Acadia.
RSEQ: Business as usual
One of these days, we’ll have an RSEQ headline that isn’t consistent with the status quo — we can only hope.
With the Laval Rouge et Or on a week two bye, the Montreal Carabins had the chance to move up to No. 1 in the conference standings, which is exactly what they did in a 43-12 rout of the Concordia Stingers.
Montreal QB Jonathan Senecal has established himself as the top gun-slinger in U SPORTS football through two weeks, passing for 376 yards and three touchdowns to bring his season total to a league-leading 776 passing yards and seven touchdowns. The Carabins defence was also stout, hauling in two interceptions from defensive backs Kaylyn St-Cyr and Edouard Doyon.
“Our attack is really mature and it’s fun to play, because everyone understands the concepts really well … It took a little time before we [got] started, but once [we got going], everything was fine,” Senecal said after the win.
The McGill Redbirds moved to 1-1 this past week, defeating the winless Sherbrooke Vert et Or 26-14 thanks to 23 unanswered points in the second half. QB Eloa Latendresse-Regimbald scored all three McGill touchdowns, including two in the air and one on the ground. Redbirds running back Brandon Ciccarello also raised eyebrows across U SPORTS with 153 rushing yards on 15 carries.