Saskatchewan Spoils Manitoba’s Opener
WINNIPEG, MB. – The University of Manitoba Bisons started slowly and never quite solved the mystery of the visiting University of Saskatchewan Huskies on Friday night.
Saskatchewan built a 27-6 halftime lead and rolled to a 44-23 victory over the Bisons in the season opener for both teams at Investors Group Field.
In the first half, it was all about Huskies quarterback Kyle Siemens who threw touchdown passes of 28 and 16 yards and ran 10 yards for another as Saskatchewan took control early and never gave it up.
The Bisons were ranked No. 10 in the country in the pre-season rankings. They will be not ne No. 10 next week.
To their credit, the Bisons did score 17 unanswered points in the third quarter to make it interesting. Second-year running back Jamel Lyles — the 2015 Canada West Rookie of the Year — made his return to U SPORTS football after sitting out last season — with a four your touchdown run. Then fourth-year QB Theo Deezar hit fourth-year wideout Shai Ross on a 30-yard TD pass and Brad Mikoluff finished the third quarter with a 46-yard field goal. That made ot 27-23 and gave the Bisons a shot.
But Saskatchewan scored 17 unanswered points of their own in the fourth quarter to give first-year head coach Scott McCrory and his first-year offensive coordinator Marcus Crandell their first U SPORTS win.
Deezar finished with 18 completions on 31 attempts for 215 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Lyles had 16 carries for 81 yards and a rushing TD. Ross was the leading receiver with five catches for 74 yards and Mikoluff kicked three field goals on three attempts.
On defense, second-year lineman Brock Gowanlock had a game-high nine tackles along with one sack. Fifth-year linebacker James Mau had 6.5 tackles in the loss.
“Saskatchewan played really well except in the third,” sais Bisons head coach Brian Dobie. “It felt like we were in practice mode. It didn’t feel like we were ready. We are ultimately responsible for preparations and must get better.”
The 0-1 Bisons will now travel to UBC to face the 0-1 Thunderbirds next Saturday, Sept. 9. It’s a 3 p.m. CDT start.
Scott Taylor, MyToba Sports with notes from Chris Zuk
Photo by Jeff Miller