USports Week 10 Blitz is a round-up of all USports football games in the country last week. From exciting games to star players, it was an interesting week.
USports Week 10 Blitz
Biggest Surprise — McMaster Marauders beat the Guelph Gryphons
In the second OUA quarterfinal, the McMaster Marauders survived a close-call against the Guelph Gryphons, defeating them 17-11. A late drive by the Gryphons threatened the Marauders chances for a berth into the semifinals and priming them for another quarterfinal upset. But Guelph quarterback James Roberts threw a game-ending interception to Keldyn Ahlstedt on the McMaster goal line, who returned it 39 yards before stepping out of bounds to seal the victory. The loss eliminates the Gryphons from the playoffs, unable to continue their Yates Cup title defence.
Roberts threw for 257 yards in the loss, completing 23 of 35 passes for a touchdown and an interception. McMaster quarterback Asher Hastings completed 26 out of 39 passes for 317 yards and a touchdown. The win sets up last year’s OUA quarterfinal rematch, when the Marauders travel to Waterloo to battle the second seeded Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks.
Biggest Upset — Acadia Axemen beating Saint Mary Huskies to clinch the final AUS playoff spot.
The Acadia Axemen headed to Halifax to play the Saint Mary Huskies with a playoff spot on the line. The winner of the game plays Mount Allison Mounties in the AUS semifinals. Heading into the game, the Huskies were coming off two blowout losses at the hands of the Mounties and St. F.X. X-Men, while the Axemen were coming off two of their closest losses. In the end, Axemen got their second victory of the year, beating the Huskies, 10-3 and clinching a date with the Mounties on Saturday.
The Axemen got on the board first as backup quarterback Hunter Guenard ran a one-yard touchdown following a long 64-yard pass from main pivot Cody Cluett to receiver Cordell Hastings with six minutes left in the first quarter.
The Huskies got on the board in the second quarter as kicker Brian Hope booted a 15-yard field goal with only two minutes remaining in the quarter. The field goal ended a 13 play drive which saw the Huskies march down the field 77 yards, taking five minutes off the clock. By halftime, the advantage remained in the Axemen’s favour, 7-3.
That was all the Huskies could do offensively, as Axemen kicker Brandon Jennings kicked a 21-yard field goal through the uprights. The field goal sealed the win and punched the Axemen’s ticket to the playoffs. The Axemen defence played a huge role in the win as the Huskies had two fumbles and sacked Huskies quarterback Brock Berglund twice. On offence, the Axemen got a huge performance from senior wide-receiver Eli Prochnau. Prochnau had eight receptions for 88 yards.
Most Memorable – the Calgary Dinos defeated the UBC Thunderbirds in overtime
The UBC Thunderbirds needed overtime for the second straight home game. A late surge from the Calgary Dino’s offence sealed the game late, putting the Thunderbirds playoff lives in jeopardy with a 41-35 victory. Thunderbird starting quarterback Michael O’Connor passed for 335 yards, completing 21 of 41 attempts and four touchdowns, while Dinos quarterback Adam Sinagra completed 18 of 29 attempts for 261 yards and two touchdowns.
It was also a record-breaking night for O’Connor, who shattered three regular-season school records — passing for 2598 yards, 335 passing attempts and 203 pass completions over eight games. O’Connor also tied the school record for most touchdowns with 20.
Despite O’Connor’s memorable night, the Thunders still needed help getting into the playoffs. A win by the Saskatchewan Huskies over the Manitoba Bisons secured a semifinal berth.
The Thunderbirds will play the Regina Rams, where the winner goes on to play for the Hardy Cup against the winner of the Huskies-Dinos semifinal.
Player of the Week — Regina Rams quarterback, Noah Picton
Regina Rams starting quarterback Noah Picton put on show in the Rams’ final regular season game against the Manitoba Bisons last Saturday. Picton completed 27 of his 39 passes for 447 yards and tossed three touchdowns along with one interception. The win secured first place in the Canada-West and the top seed in the playoffs.
On the Rams first drive of the game, Picton tossed a 7-yard touchdown pass to running back, Atlee Simon. On the previous play, Picton completed a 46-yard pass to receiver Riley Wilson. In the first quarter, Picton also threw a 48-yard pass to Andrew Bennett, but it led nowhere.
Picton connected with Simon three times in total for the hat-trick. Both of these touchdowns came in the third quarter, with an 18-yard touchdown pass and a 22-yard throw. The final touchdown to Simon was important for Picton, as he broke former Calgary Dinos quarterback Andrew Buckley’s USports record for passing yards in a season, set last year.
Picton finished the year with 3,174 passing yards. In eight games this season, he had 25 touchdowns with just nine interceptions. Picton could be awarded Canada-West MVP on Thursday November 10. If he wins, he could win the Hec Crighton trophy later this month.
Main photo courtesy of Alistair Boulby