Football: National Round Up: Moncton and beyond

This weekend the eyes of Canadian football fans everywhere turned to Moncton, New Brunswick, as Atlantic Canada soaked up the spotlight. In both professional and amateur ranks the talk of the town was whether or not football could thrive in this Maritime city not named Halifax.

But for all the talk of CFL expansion and Université de Moncton possibly taking the field as part of the AUS in the near future another compelling event took place on the field: for the first time since 1998 the Mount Allison Mounties beat the perennial conference champions Saint Mary’s Huskies to remain undefeated in interconference play this season. The Mounties' 23 game losing streak to the Huskies has officially come to an end.

The Mounties are better known for bouts of futility rather than thrilling victories. Just last season Mount Allison once again posted a winless campaign, something not uncommon for this program unfortunately. And when facing the Huskies the game is usually decided before the opening kickoff: back in 2001 the Huskies famously won 105-0 over the Mounties, sending the program into a complete state of disarray.

This weekend however the Mounties struck back. Playing on a neutral field in front of 3,500 spectators Mount Allison took advantage of an SMU team that has been reeling this season, and now has an 0-3 record - an anomaly for the usually dominant Huskies program. With most fans of CIS football cheering them on Mount Allison held on to claim the 23-21 upset win.

The upsets by last season’s also-ran programs on the east coast, combined with a poor showing in interlock play against Quebec, has lead to doubts about the Atlantic conference this season. But it’s pretty hard to look at the standings, where Mount Allison is tied at the top of the AUS along with Acadia, both teams sporting a 2-1 record, and not smile. Moncton was easily the most interesting place in the world of Canadian football this weekend.

As for the FRC-CIS Top 10 teams...

The Laval Rouge et Or (#1) continued their winning ways with a 23-7 victory over Sherbrooke. Laval sat their starting quarterback in favour of back up Tristan Grenon this week, who has also performed well throughout the early part of the season when called upon. The future at the pivot position may not be a concern for the Rouge et Or.

The Ottawa Gee-Gees (#2) also maintained their perfect record but it was not without some adversity. Visiting Kingston for “fauxcoming” Queen’s gave the Gee-Gees all they could handle; despite breaking out to an early 14-0 lead over Queen’s, the Gaels pushed back and sent the game into overtime before Ottawa won by a field goal, 27-25. Queen’s missed their field goal in OT, settling for a rouge that was unable to hold up for the victory. Despite the loss the Gaels still managed to put up 546 yards of total offence on the day.

The Montreal Carabins (#3) were given a scare by their crosstown rivals McGill. While the Redmen have not been winning they are playing teams very tight in their games so far. The Carabins pulled away towards the end of the game for the 24-11 victory. Rotrand Sené kept pace as the nation’s leading rusher with another 200-yard game (202 yards).

The Calgary Dinos (#4) saw a 17-point first-half lead against the Manitoba Bisons evaporate but were able to hold on for the narrow 26-25 win. The Dinos, an injury-plagued unit, once again found a way to pull out another close contest in the highly competitive Canada West conference.

The Western Mustangs (#5) met their newly-ranked conference cousins the Guelph Gryphons (#10), and in a battle of defensive superiority won a low scoring affair 15-7 in front of a raucous crowd of 9,000 at Guelph’s Homecoming. Interesting stat: Donnie Marshall ran for as many yards as he passed for on the day (116 yards each way).

There was no magic this weekend for UBC as the Regina Rams (#6) handed them a 41-6 defeat. And the Alberta Golden Bears (#7) were equally unlucky. After a strong start to the season the Golden Bears lost for the second straight week, this time at the hands of the previously ranked Saskatchewan Huskies to the tune of 33-9.

A comfortable 39-3 win was on tap for the McMaster Marauders (#8) this weekend as they downed their opponents the Windsor Lancers. And the Bishop’s Gaiters (#9) round out the Top 10 teams in action this weekend, rallying for 14 fourth quarter points to squeak out an 18-17 win over the Concordia Stingers.
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