Closing time

After what many had predicted would be a bleak end to a turbulent season, the Bison football team gave the home crowd something to cheer about in their final game of the 2010 season. Oct. 30 at University Stadium, Manitoba put on one of their best performances of the season, defeating the UBC Thunderbirds by a score of 35-25.

Manitoba fell down on the scoreboard early on as UBC jumped to a 14-3 lead in the first quarter. The Bisons would build on a strong second quarter, however, as they were able to respond with 17 unanswered points to take a 20-14 lead into halftime. The home team offence was sparked when rookie Quincy Hurst returned a punt 100 yards for the fifth longest touchdown return in team history.

The Bisons would go on to score 15 points in the final two quarters of the game, never once relinquishing the lead to UBC.

“I was proud of the players to battle back after the first quarter,” said Bison football head coach Brian Dobie. “We showed composure and determination, [and] we did not crack during the second half when they applied pressure.”

Bisons quarterback Khaleal Williams threw for a season-high 327 passing yards in the home game, while fifth year veteran Matt Henry matched his season high with two rushing touchdowns.

The Bisons started the 2010 regular season with consecutive losses to both the Regina Rams on Sept. 3 and the Alberta Golden Bears on Sept. 11. Manitoba dropped their first game against the Rams by a score of 45-11, and the following week fell to the Golden Bears 31-6.

In week three of the CIS regular season the Bisons earned their first win, defeating UBC by a score of 40-17. Manitoba quarterback Khaleal Williams threw a season-high three TD passes while running back Matt Henry tied a season high two rushing TDs in the victory.

Following their road win against UBC, the Bisons returned home to host the University of Calgary Dinos for Manitoba’s 2010 homecoming game. The Brown and Gold battled hard in front of a raucous crowd of three thousand strong but ultimately lost to the CIS top-ranked Dinos by a score of 26-25.

One week after their homecoming game, Manitoba travelled to Saskatchewan, on Oct. 1, where the Bisons made history, losing to the Huskies by the largest margin in Bison Football history. The away game ended with a final score of 64-3 for Saskatchewan. The game also made records for third overall in total points allowed by Manitoba and first in total points allowed in one quarter, 24 in the first 15 minutes.

In their next two games of the season, the Bisons put together better efforts than they showed in the Saskatchewan loss but ultimately failed in securing another win. On Oct. 16, Manitoba dropped a home game to Regina 41-19 and the following week, on Oct. 23, dropped a decision to Alberta 46-21. In the three game stretch following their close homecoming loss to Calgary, Manitoba allowed a total of 151 points of offence, over 40 yards per game from Oct. 1-23.

The Bisons won their final game of the season 35-25 against UBC, cementing their 2010 Canada West record at 2-6, two points shy of the fourth and final playoff spot.

In eight conference games this season Manitoba averaged 20 points per game, while allowing an average of 36.9 yards of offence by the opposition. Of the offensive yards the Bisons put up this year, the team averaged 14.4 yards per catch throwing and 5.4 yards per rushing attempt. On defence, the Bisons held the opposing offence to an average 13.8 yards per catch and 6.7 yards per rushing attempt.

First year starting quarterback Williams finished the season with a pass completion rate of 56.9 per cent, going 123 for 216. Williams threw for 10 touchdowns on the year and averaged a total of 220 passing yards per game.

Fifth year CIS football veteran Matt Henry led all Bisons with 638 net rushing yards on 133 carries, averaging 4.8 yards per carry on the year. Henry also led Manitoba with five TDs on the year, four rushing and one receiving. Williams finished second on the team with 242 net rushing yards in 35 attempts, averaging 6.9 yards of offence per carry.

Bisons slotback Stu Schollaardt led all receivers with 32 catches for 491 yards, averaging 15.3 yards per catch. Manitoba rookie WR Quincy Hurst finished second on the team with 18 catches for 295 yards, averaging 16.4 yards per catch. Both Schollaardt and Hurst finished the year with two touchdown receptions.

Hurst also led the Bisons in several special teams categories, finishing first on the team for both punt returns and kick returns. The rookie returned 26 kicks for an average of 20 yards and 40 total punts for an average of 9.4 yards.

On defence, LB Thomas Hall led Manitoba with 42.5 total tackles and two sacks in eight games this year. John Tietzmann and Pete Adams also put up impressive numbers, with 39.5 and 37.5 tackles on the year respectively.

Manitoba finished the season last in Canada West conference for touchdowns, field goals and total points. The Bisons also allowed the most points in the conference, averaging 36.9 points against per game, and the most sacks against, 24 in eight games.