There was plenty of drama under the Friday night lights in Edmonton as a U of M Bisons football team comeback against the University of Alberta Golden Bears was squashed 29-26.
Manitoba erased a 16-7 deficit at halftime, taking a 26-22 lead in the final minute only for Daniel Bubelenyi to spoil the fun with a touchdown in the dying moments to give Alberta the win.
Friday night’s game started off on the wrong foot for the herd, as Josiah Schakel intercepted a pass and rumbled down the field for a touchdown and 7-0 Alberta lead. Michael Ritchott had a touchdown of his own off an 84-yard run to tie things up, but a Zach Campbell touchdown restored the Golden Bears lead.
Alberta picked up a late safety to end the first quarter with a 16-7 lead.
This score held until the third quarter when kicker Matt Riley got the Manitoba comeback started. Riley and Alberta kicker Jonathan Giustini traded field goals early in the third, but Riley snagged another with 2:46 to go in the quarter, getting the Bisons within six points at 19-13 Alberta.
Bisons fans did not have to wait long for those six points to arrive, as Trysten Dyce got the herd even. Quarterback Des Catellier found Dyce with a quick six-yard pass in the end zone, and a Riley conversion gave Manitoba its first lead of the game at 20-19.
This lead was short lived as Giustini knocked down a 41-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter to put Alberta back ahead at 22-20.
The two sides battled it out for the remainder of the quarter until Manitoba thought it had the winner.
Catellier took the snap at the Alberta seven-yard line, dropped back and handed the ball to Ritchott. The offensive line cleared a hole and Ritchott drove through, carrying the ball to the house for the touchdown and late 26-22 Bisons lead.
Catellier missed the two-point conversion, but Manitoba thought they had the game.
Alberta, meanwhile, had other plans.
In the waning seconds of the game, on what would have been Alberta’s last drive of the game, quarterback Brad Launhardt took the snap and looked downfield to see Bubelenyi streaking into the Bisons end zone. Launhardt unleashed a 30-yard bomb and Bubelenyi stretched out for the catch, the touchdown and the win.
Giustini added the conversion and Alberta walked off the field with a 29-26 win.
Alberta had the edge in the passing game, as Launhardt outthrew his Manitoba counterpart Catellier 258 yards to 246. Manitoba won the ground game, outpacing Alberta 190 yards to 180 on the night.
Shae Weekes led the way defensively for the Bisons with seven tackles on the night, followed closely by Brock Gowanlock with six. Manitoba edged Alberta in sacks 2-1 and caused more lost yardage with six tackles compared to just two by the Golden Bears.
The loss dropped the Bisons to 1-2 on the season and put them in a tie for fourth place with the University of Regina Rams.
The Bisons will be back at IG Field Sept. 21 to take on the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds. Kickoff for Saturday’s game is 2 p.m. CDT.