Wild Huskies domesticated by Bisons

Herd built early lead and Saskatchewan failed to respond in football opener

Huskies may look like wolves, but the U of M Bisons football team made the University of Saskatchewan Huskies look like puppies in a 43-19 win at IG Field to open the 2019 Canada West season.

Macho Bockru led the way for the herd, with three touchdowns on the night to go with 99 yards on six receptions, while kicker Matt Riley went five-for-five on field goals.

Postgame, Bisons head coach Brian Dobie gave Riley high praise for his performance.

“I feel Matt’s a better punter than he is a kicker, but tonight he was perfect,” Dobie said.

“He was five-for-five and looked to me that it wasn’t close. It looked to me that most of those shots were very decisive shots, right between the uprights with plenty of leg on them.”

Friday’s game had a less than stellar start for the herd, with a David Solie field goal capping off the first Huskies drive for an early 3-0 lead. Manitoba responded on its next possession, charging down the field for Bockru’s first touchdown and a 7-3 Bisons lead in the first quarter.

Saskatchewan came close to a touchdown of its own late in the first, but an interception in the Bisons end zone ended the threat prematurely.

Manitoba took over possession with another interception early in the second quarter, and this time made Saskatchewan pay. Quarterback Des Catellier found Michael Ritchcott with a bullet pass to the sideline, and he charged 58 yards to the house for a touchdown.

Riley connected on the conversion to make it 14-4 Manitoba.

On the next Huskies drive they once again lost possession to an error, this time a fumble, leading to a Riley field goal and 17-3 Bisons lead.

The Huskies finally broke through with a successful drive with less than five minutes to go in the opening half. Mason Nyhus turned left and fired the ball to Yol Piok for the score, but a failed conversion left Saskatchewan down 17-9.

Soon after Riley knocked down a 43-yard field goal and Catellier found Bockru in the end zone with a 30-yard bomb to give Manitoba a 27-9 lead at halftime.

“At halftime we talked before we went out and said, ‘Don’t be afraid to win, to flat out win’,” Dobie said.

Riley and Solie traded field goals for the only points of the third quarter, sending the two sides to the fourth at 30-12 Manitoba.

A Josh Ewanchyna touchdown in the final frame gave the Huskies some life, but Riley knocked down two field goals and Bockru picked up his third touchdown for the 43-19 win.

Turnovers were a major factor for the Bisons, as Saskatchewan quarterback Nyhus threw two interceptions and the Huskies offense gave up three fumbles.

“That was the most significant part of the game — was the turnovers — and we by far won that battle,” Dobie said.

“We threw in some sacks, we put them in difficult situations on top of that, […] that game was decided because of turnovers for sure.”


The Bisons will be back in action Sept. 6 in Calgary for a date with the University of Calgary Dinos. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. CDT.