“Home is where the heart is”

Bison football gets first win of season in home opener

Photo credit to David Lipnowski

Coming off a tough loss in Saskatchewan to start the season, the University of Manitoba Bisons returned home this past weekend and put on a show for the 6,435 fans in attendance. Manitoba was dominant in all three facets of the game, which led to a 42-16 victory.

In a matchup that was billed as a battle of the quarterbacks, it was Jordan Yantz who stepped up for the Bisons. The offensive captain ended the night with four scores – two through the air, and two on the ground.

Cayman Shutter didn’t fare as well for Regina, frequently feeling pressure from the Bison front seven. He threw for just 157 yards, and two interceptions before being benched late in the third quarter.

The potent Ram attack was stymied by the Bison defence all night long, with Regina’s triple threat of receivers turning into virtual non-factors.

First half summary
Much like last week, the Bisons got off to a blazing start on offence. Yantz flashed his speed on the first drive for Manitoba, taking a bootleg 55 yards all the way to the Regina 16-yard line. Kienan LaFrance finished things off on the following play, waltzing into the end zone on a pass from Yantz, at 3:19 of the first quarter.

Regina had a huge chance to answer back just over nine minutes in, after a forced fumble by Joey Dwyer was recovered by the Rams. They looked to have tied things up on the ensuing drive at the Manitoba 42-yard line, as receiver Mitch Thompson got behind the Bison secondary with the ball in the air. Unfortunately for Thompson, the goal post had other ideas, stopping him directly in his tracks. Thankfully, he was able to get up and walk off under his own power.

The Rams would get on the board with 4:33 left in the first quarter, after Manitoba was forced to concede a safety. The two points were set up after a sack by defensive lineman Dean Viena deep in Bison territory.
Regina looked to find the end zone on their final drive of the first quarter, as a pass interference call set them up on the Manitoba 27-yard line. However, Jayden McKoy was able to pick off the following Shutter pass that was thrown into double coverage. It was McKoy’s—who redshirted last year—first career CIS interception.

The turnover fired up Manitoba, who proceeded to outscore Regina 20-0 in the second quarter, and 15-7 in the third.

LaFrance initiated the onslaught, scoring from one yard out on a run play with 6:55 left in the half. The touchdown was aided by the Bisons’ special teams unit, as Alex Christie busted through and blocked the attempted Andrew Fabian punt, setting up Manitoba at the Regina one-yard line. Ryan Jones would miss the convert, making the score 13-2 for the Bisons.

Manitoba kept on rolling from there. Linebacker Jonathan Jones intercepted Shutter on the ensuing drive, taking the pass 52 yards to the house. He finished the night with three tackles, a pick six, a sack, and a forced fumble.

The home squad would finish off their first half destruction with 1:12 left, as Yantz would keep it himself from four yards out. Just like the LaFrance rushing touchdown, Yantz’s score was set up by stout special teams. This time it was Houston Rennie, who stuffed Fabian as he attempted a fake punt.

Second half summary
Manitoba opened up the second half with three consecutive scoring drives, putting the game completely out of reach.
The opening drive for Manitoba turned into the Nic Demski show. After being held catch-less in the first half, he went off for 71 yards to begin the third quarter. Demski had all three catches for the Bisons, finishing things off with a 26-yard reception less than a minute and a half in, making the score 34-2 for Manitoba.

The Bisons would put another seven on the board on their next drive, which lasted eight plays, and took up 3:16 on the clock. Yantz provided his second rushing major of the game, this one from eight yards out.
Manitoba would cap their scoring with 4:18 left in the third, after Andrew Jones missed a 19-yard field goal, resulting in a single.

Both teams would rest their starters shortly afterwards, as the final minutes of the third quarter, and all of the fourth saw numerous amounts of backups for either side.

Regina got on the board late in the third, and provided the only points of the fourth, as backup quarterback Noah Picton found receiver Mitchell Picton twice. The first connection was at 13:32 of the third quarter, and the second at 8:42 into the fourth. Regina added a safety in between to round out the scoring.

Discussions with Dobie
Head coach Brian Dobie felt the team lacked a rhythm to begin the matchup, but was proud of the players stepping up as the game went along. He used the examples of the blocked punt from Christie and the interception from McKoy as important factors that turned Manitoba’s performance around.

“The players made plays, I don’t know how else to articulate [that],” said Dobie.

“It was certain plays, I think, as much as anything that sparked us. Then once that happened, then it became three units – special teams, offence, and defence were pretty much in sync.”

Takeaways for Manitoba
On offence, Alex Vitt was yet again the favourite receiver for Yantz, hauling in six receptions for 105 yards. Demski—the number-one-ranked CIS prospect in the fall CFL scouting bureau—successfully returned to action, recording all three of his receptions in the third quarter.

On defence, two Miles Macdonell graduates—McKoy and Rennie—had big games for the Bisons. McKoy recorded an interception and three tackles; along with stuffing Fabian on a fake punt, Rennie also recovered the blocked punt from Christie in the second quarter.

Manitoba will stay at home this week, as they welcome UBC to town on Sept. 20 at 2 p.m. for their annual homecoming game.