The Bisons football team was on the road this weekend, taking on the University of Alberta Golden Bears at Foote Field in Edmonton.
The herd started off strong, recording the opening touchdown of the game in the first quarter a few plays after Bisons defensive back Jarrett Alcaraz picked off Golden Bear quarterback Eli Hetlinger before running it back to midfield.
After Bison quarterback Jackson Tachinski called his own number and completed passes to receivers Michael O’Shea Jr. and De Shawn Le Jour, the herd’s drive was aided by a flag against the Golden Bears for unsportsmanlike conduct. The drive was aided again with a late hit on Tachinski after he had rumbled for a first down.
The Bisons went up 7-0 on Alberta moments later when running back Noah Anderson scampered six yards into the end zone for the touchdown.
The lead ended on the Golden Bears next drive, who opened the second quarter with a touchdown. However, on Alberta’s next possession, defensive back Jake Nitychoruk recovered a Golden Bears forced fumble by teammate linebacker Markos Bockru, but shortly after the Bisons had the ball punched out and Alberta recovered.
The Golden Bears went on to dominate the second quarter with two more touchdowns, entering halftime with a 21-7 lead over Manitoba.
Worse than being down by two possessions, the Bisons lost their starting quarterback at the end of the first half when Tachinski’s non-throwing arm was injured while being taken down on a blitz. His timeline to return to the team is unknown at time of publication.
Although the Golden Bears dominated the third quarter with three field goals, the herd started a comeback with quarterback Sawyer Thiessen at the gun. Marching down the field in the dying minutes of the third quarter after a second interception off Hetlinger — this time by linebacker Isaac Dokken — the Bisons began the fourth quarter with kicker Vinny De Rosa scoring a field goal, cutting the lead to 30-10.
After Alberta put up another major in its first possession in the fourth, increasing its lead to 37-10, Thiessen used receiver AK Gassama’s speed for a huge fourth quarter 16-yard play.
When the drive stalled, the Golden Bears once again kept the Bisons on the field as De Rosa was roughed while punting for the second week in a row.
Thiessen seized this opportunity by handing off to running backs Breydon Stubbs and Vaughan Lloyd, the latter running the ball 33 yards for the Bisons’ second major of the night.
In fact, the herd’s defence and special teams had a huge fourth quarter, with Anderson recovering the herd’s onside kick shortly after its major. However, a flag on the play forced Manitoba to re-kick.
On special teams, O’Shea Jr. ran a Golden Bear field goal attempt off a Bison defensive line tip the entire field for a Bisons touchdown, only to have it negated by another flag.
Although the herd put up a huge fourth quarter on paper, penalties would negate its comeback, with the game ending 37-16 for Alberta.
The Bisons start the season 0-2, losing their starting quarterback in the process. However, despite losing Tachinski in the first half of the game, they never gave up in the second half.
The herd also comes out of this weekend holding the Canada West conference record for most interceptions so far this season with five.
Gassama had 41 yards receiving, Stubbs rushed for 34 yards, Lloyd rushed for 53 yards and Stephen Adamopoulos registered nine tackles. Thiessen threw for a respectable 63 yards and the herd recorded a sack, courtesy of linebacker Nick Thomas.
The next game for the herd is on the road again against the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds, after which the team will return home to host the University of Regina Rams, who the herd beat 26-7 in the pre-season.