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Manitoba Bisons defensive back Jayden McKoy makes a tackle against a Saskatchewan receiver on Friday night at Investors Group Field. Photo credit/Chantal Zdan.

All six Canada West football teams kicked off their regular season schedules on Friday night, with the quarterbacks taking the spotlight. Each of the winning pivots threw for at least 300 yards — with two passing for over 400 on the night. Below is a recap of how every team made out in Week 1 of 2017.


Saskatchewan 44 — 23 (#10) Manitoba

     

The Huskies’ offence was unstoppable on the road against the Bisons, racking up 563 total yards. Starting Saskatchewan pivot Kyle Siemens was given all day to throw, and he made the most of it, finishing with 419 yards through the air, to go along with four touchdowns. He also ran for another major. Four different Huskies players also finished with at least 50 yards receiving in what was a well-rounded display offensively.

Trailing 27-6 at halftime, the Bisons came out with a spirited effort in the third quarter, cutting the Green Dogs lead all the way down to four entering the fourth quarter. Running back Jamel Lyles was the catalyst, finishing the game with over 200 all-purpose yards, however it wasn’t enough to keep pace with a Saskatchewan team that simply had too many weapons on the offensive side of the ball, as the visitors finished the final 15 minutes on a 17-0 run.


(#4) Calgary 55 — 26 Alberta

     

The Golden Bears kept it close early against their provincial rivals, however 23 unanswered points from Calgary in the second quarter spelled the beginning of the end in this one. Calgary’s 55 points now marks the tenth straight game where the Dinos have scored more than 50 against Alberta.

The turning point of the contest occurred early in the second quarter, as the Golden Bears were stuffed on a third down attempt. Trailing just 11-7 at the time, the Dinos were able to seize the momentum and never gave it back.

Third year quarterback Adam Sinagra — getting his first chance to be the number one guy for the Dinos — didn’t disappoint, tossing up 426 yards through the air on 27-of-33 passing and three majors. He was also helped tremendously by a veteran offensive line for Calgary that gave him plenty of time to go through his reads, as well as standout performances from fourth-year receiver Dallas Boath and third-year receiver Hunter Karl, who each had over 100 yards receiving and a touchdown. Boath was particularly impressive, registering 142 yards on eight receptions in just three quarters of play, including a few highlight-reel catches.

The Golden Bears got a spirited performance from fifth-year running back Ed Ilnicki, who had 96 yards on just eight carries, as well as two majors — one of which was an 83 yard romp. And just one week after scoring a 100-plus yard touchdown reception in the preseason, freshman receiver Nathan Rowe was at it again, snagging a go route and taking it 109 yards to pay dirt in the game’s final minutes. The big-gainer tied the longest reception in U SPORTS history in the process.


(#5) Regina 36 — 20 (#7) UBC

     

Many people were expecting these two top-10 ranked teams to go back-and-forth all night offensively, however that didn’t come to fruition, as the Rams emerged with a convincing 16 point win.

Regina’s defence — led by rookie Nick Cross — was able to stymie versatile UBC pivot Michael O’Connor all night long, holding him to just 155 yards passing as well as forcing a critical second quarter interception that turned the tide of momentum in the Rams’ favour. Regina would capitalize on the ensuing drive, as running back Atlee Simon managed to cross the goal line to put Regina up 16-0. With the score, Simon also became the team’s all-time leading in rushing touchdowns.

Offensively, Noah Picton picked up where he left off in a record-setting 2016, as he threw for 335 yards and two touchdowns, while adding 29 yards on the ground. Not surprisingly, his favourite target was cousin Mitchell, who finished the game with 120 yards receiving on six catches. Fellow receiver Kyle Moortgat added three receptions for 53 yards, including a highlight-reel touchdown grab where he yanked the ball out of the UBC’s defender’s hands while falling backwards into the end zone.

Ill-timed mistakes cost UBC dearly in this contest as well, with the team surrendering 23 penalties for a whopping 210 yards. Two of those penalties were potential game changers, with a pick-six by defensive back Will Maxwell called back, as well as a touchdown run by receiver Trey Kellogg nulled by a flag.

Despite the loss, the Thunderbirds received spirited play from their defence, with Maxwell and fellow defensive back Payton LaGrange both recording interceptions that went for big gains. Offensively, Marcus Davis led the way with seven receptions for 54 yards and a late major.

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Mike Still

Mike joins the CUSN roster as a Canada West correspondent, covering basketball and football. Originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Mike completed an English degree from the U of M last in 2015 and finished his post-baccalaureate degree in journalism at the University of Kings College in Halifax, Nova Scotia in the spring. He has extensive experience covering U SPORTS from his time as the Sports Editor for The Manitoban, serving as the Bison football beat writer for mytoba.ca, and being the play-by-play announcer for Bison basketball, as well as the staff sportswriter for the Dalhousie Tigers.

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