Bisons keep playoff hopes alive with overtime victory

Manitoba comes out on top against Alberta in longest ever Canada West football game

Bison receiver Shai Ross. Photo by Chantal Zdan

On Saturday, the University of Manitoba Bisons football team beat the Alberta Golden Bears 67-59 in an unbelievable game that is the second highest scoring game in Canada West history. After seven overtime sessions, each team recorded over 600 offensive yards in a game the Bisons needed to win to give them any chance at the playoffs.

In the first quarter, both teams were unsuccessful on their opening drives but the Golden Bears made no mistakes on their second drive. They began at their own 12-yard line, and with a combination of runs from Ed Ilnicki and throws from quarterback Ben Kopczynski they marched down the field. The drive ended with an 11-yard touchdown pass from Kopczynski to receiver Tylor Henry.

Henry had a monster day for the home team, as he caught 19 passes for 298 yards, the second most in Canada West History.

On the ensuing Bisons drive, they were unable to get anything going as it ended with a loss of nine yards resulting in a safety. Following that would be a couple of short drives for each side, and it was 9-0 Golden Bears after the first quarter.

The Bisons began the second quarter with a bang, as quarterback Theo Deezar threw a 44-yard bomb to wideout Marquise Thompson for a touchdown, which put up the first points of the game for the herd. On the Golden Bears first drive of the quarter, Ilnicki fumbled the ball and was recovered by Bisons defender Jayden McKoy at the Alberta 19-yard line. The Bisons offence was unable to convert the turnover into points, as Deezar threw one of his two interceptions on the day.

In the final five minutes of the half, the Bisons put together an impressive drive resulting in a Cam Fox two-yard touchdown run. The Golden Bears put together a scoring drive with 37 seconds left on the clock in the second half. The drive resulted in a 1-yard touchdown run by the Bears quarterback, as they took an 18-15 lead into the half.

After Bisons kicker Brad Mikoluff opened the scoring in the second half, the Golden bears put together another quick and short drive ending with Kopczynski’s second 1-yard touchdown run of the game. The Bisons answered a couple possessions later when Alex Christie found a big gaping hole taking it 28 yards to the end zone. Both teams would add a field goal, making the score 28-28 at the end of regulation.

This game needed overtime, and each team scored a touchdown on their first possession. The Bisons opened it up with a play-action touchdown pass to Fox, and the Golden Bears followed with a short touchdown pass to Adam Zajdel, his first of the season. The teams exchanged field goals on their second possessions. Next, the Bisons again opened with a touchdown pass from Deezar to Riley Harrison, and the Golden Bears responded with a 12-yard touchdown catch to Rocky Borrelli.

It was in the fourth overtime sessions where things got interesting, as after the Golden Bears opened with a touchdown, they successfully made a surprise two-point conversion. This would force the Bisons to get a touchdown and a two-point conversion or the game would be over, and that is exactly what the Bisons did. After scoring a touchdown, they ran a flea flicker play which resulted in quarterback Deezar catching the two-point conversion to keep the game alive. The next two sessions resulted in the teams exchanging field goals, making the score 59-59.

The herd opened the seventh session with another touchdown reception by Harrison. This time it was the Bisons who were successful on a two-point conversion, forcing the Golden Bears to repeat that. They failed as Kopczynski was intercepted by Tanner Hamade, which sealed the deal, and the Bisons won their must-win game, by a score of 67-59.

The Bisons will host the Regina Rams in their final regular season game on Saturday, Oct.29, at Investors Group Field.