Saturday, September 20, 2008

Friday night football: UBC's blunder, J-Lee's record night,

CANADA WEST

Regina 18, UBC 16:
Hey, UBC, before you join the NCAA, learn how to kick a last-second field goal. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

As best as can be figured out from the dot-orgers' account, with 12 seconds left the Thunderbirds had driven to the Regina 21-yard line. It was very makeable field-goal range for their kicker Shawn McIsaac, who was only 10-of-10 in the past two weeks.

Twelve seconds is enough time to fit in one more scrimmage play if the offence gets up to line and snaps the ball quickly. There's some suggestion that as play was whistled in and the clock began to wind, UBC didn't do move with any great alacrity. No one made any motion to call a timeout and settle the team down. The clock was at about :06 when the ball was snapped and the QB, Marc McVeigh, handed the ball off to the tailback, Dave Boyd.

By the time Boyd was brought down, there were zeroes on the clock, and a probably more than a few Thunderbirds' jaws scrapping the ground. Instead of a 19-18 win, they'd lost. (One feels guilty for merely mentioning the players who touched the ball, but hey, it's in the boxscore,)

It's irony, on a base level, that this happened one day after the Vancouver Province ran a column about UBC's interest in joining the NCAA. That has very little to do with what happened tonight. For cryin' out loud, though, UBC coach Ted Goveia and his staff should be glad that they don't face, to turn the writer's words against him, the "extreme pressure to win in (NCAA Division 1), something foreign to the Canadian University Culture at this point."

A coaching staff in a big-time football conference in the States who had a blunder like this happen on a Saturday would be polishing up their resumes by Monday. They would hear about it for weeks, from boosters, bloggers, babysitters, talk-radio hosts, fans on Rivals.com, the media, the milkman, their pastor and the paper boy. There would be YouTube takedowns, like the one directed at former Arkansas coach Houston Nutt.

Point being, be glad for the UBC coaches that one person's backwards approach to university athletics is another person's sense of perspective. It's Canadian football. The coaches and players bust their butts as much as the school or a CFL team's budget allows them to, but a fan has to approach it with a little bit of ironic detachment.

Canadian football is always going to be imprecise. There isn't as much money in it, so it's harder to cover for human error. Unfortunately for it UBC, it found out the hard way.

Now, who's not going to cheer for UBC (2-2) to rise above this and make the Canada West playoffs? A team worthwhile can overcome.

The game thread on cisfootball.org is a good read. The final seconds pretty much pushed the first 59:48 of the game aside. Luke Derkson had a 208-yard night for Regina, which had turnover problems. Lost in the shuffle was that UBC tailback Cheng Wei (19 rushes, 89 yards) had two fumbles in the second half (one set up a field goal that cut a UBC lead to 16-15), which is why Boyd was in the game on the final series. That could have contributed to the brain-cramp.

Manitoba 27 Alberta 17: The Bisons have got to feeling better after ending a two-game skid and finding a running back, bearing in mind that Alberta's struggling.

James Gerardy gained 116 of his 249 yards during a 17-point fourth quarter. He broke off a pair of first-down runs before scoring the go-ahead touchdown.

A few minutes later, Alberta had a golden opportunity to go back on top, taking over at the 42-yard line after a bungled Bisons punt, only to throw another interception, their fourth of five on the night. They've thrown 11 in two games. Soon after that, Gerardy broke off a 37-yarder, which became a 52-yard play after an Alberta unnecessary-roughness penalty. Manitoba's Terry Firr caught a 16-yard TD pass to ice the game two plays later.

Quade Armstrong was at quarterback for the bulk of the game for the Golden Bears. Freshman Ben Gorniak started but threw three interceptions, all to Manitoba's Teague Sherman, before being replaced. The game moves at a million miles per hour for young quarterbacks. It seems fair to hope Gorniak grows from having a tough first start.

For the record, Manitoba only got eight points off those three picks. That's not much of a killer instinct, but tonight, they didn't need one.

QUEBEC

Bishop's 45 McGill 21:
Congratulations are in order for Bishop's brilliant Jamall Lee, who set the Québec conference single-game and career marks tonight vs. McGill in Montréal.


J-Lee came within, what, one more broken tackle of perhaps having the first 400-yard game in CIS history. He finished with 35 rushes for 391 yards (the all-time record is 395, set by Calgary's Chris Lewis back in '94), bringing him to 3,642 after just 27 career regular-season games.

Just to put it in perspective, Lee's per-game average is 134.9 yards, achieved on a team which was 1-7 in each of his first two years, against Québec conference defences. It's bit facile, but that's better than the 129.3 you get when Jesse Lumsden's total of 4,138 is divided into 32 games.

The yards came coming easily for Jamall tonight against McGill's freshman-laden defence. Please keep in mind, though, in his first two seasons Lee was often close to a one-man offensive in his first two years with the Gaiters, before Leroy Blugh's rebuilding efforts started bearing fruit. Getting to 3,600-plus yards in the third game in his fourth season is a hell of a feat for him and his blockers, who tonight include the O-line of Tom Cumberbatch, Phil Sauer, Steve Mabee, Mike Berta and Alex Lau, along with blocking back Tim Cronk. (As a Kingstonian, it's obligatory to point out that Lau and Cronk played their high school football together at Holy Cross and with the Grenadiers amateur football team.)

Bishop's SID John Edwards gets a glove-tap for Twittering updates all night long.

ATLANTIC

Saint Mary's 50 Mount Allison 20:
Don't write this off as a mere mauling of undermanned Mount A. SMU scored 40 points in the second half, including 32 in the third quarter. That's good against almost any team east or west of Ontario.

Erik Glavic is back under centre for SMU, but Nathan Beeler-Marsman played the bulk of the game.

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