Thunderbirds edge out Bisons in a thriller

Photo by Jeff Miller

This past Saturday, the Manitoba Bisons football team fell three points short in a 51-48 loss to the high-flying University of British Columbia (UBC) Thunderbirds, in a game where the herd was primarily playing catch-up.

Manitoba got on the board first after a 45-yard touchdown reception from Jesse Walker. The Thunderbirds answered back, scoring 13 points in a spell where the Bison offence struggled.


Aerial attack

UBC’s starting quarterback, Penn State recruit Michael O’Connor, showcased his poise and ability at many times during this game. He strung together a number of long drives that wore down the Bison defence. O’Connor finished the night with 398 yards passing and four touchdowns.

Despite the loss, Bison quarterback Theo Deezar had an absolutely stellar performance.

The St. Paul’s High School grad went 28 for 39, with a whopping 519 yards and four touchdowns. His 519 yards sets the Bisons’ single game passing record and is also the seventh most in conference history.

“I think going forward our biggest challenge is going to be staying focused and motivated,” Deezar said post-game. “I think losing to UBC and Calgary will be the biggest thing to happen to our team this year.”


Receivers come up big

In a game where almost a thousand yards passing were accumulated, the receivers on both sides played a big role.

For the Bisons, Walker and veteran Alex Vitt led the line for the herd. Walker had six grabs for 109 yards and one touchdown, while Vitt had five grabs for 161 yards and made some key catches to extend drives, including a 49-yard reception made in the third quarter in double coverage.

Head coach Brian Dobie had some high praise for Vitt, commending him for his ability to play with heart and passion.

“That kid is a warrior,” Dobie said. “Alex Vitt will make catches in any league, in any kind of traffic. He plays absolutely without fear, he’s got a tremendous heart and he’s got great hands.”


Thunderbirds dominate special teams

Special teams also played a big part in this game, with UBC’s kicker, Quinn van Gylswyk, punting for an astonishing 333 yards and pinning the Bisons deep on many occasions. The Thunderbird kicker executed a perfect onside kick to start the second half recording precision and accuracy all game.

Dobie admitted to being outplayed in the special teams aspect of the game.

“We absolutely got out-coached, out-called and our guys got outplayed,” he said. “I thought the call at the beginning of the half was aggressive, confident, and gutsy.”

Dobie also commented on the big takeaway the herd can take from a game like this.

“We are not there yet. We have a lot of fight, but we are not there yet,” he said. “Every quarter in every game is so important and every game has importance.”

The Bisons travel to Alberta next week to take on the Golden Bears. The Bears are coming off a crushing 80-18 loss to Calgary.