Football trounces Manitoba in first regular season home game

Coming off of a 36-20 defeat in the first game of the season, the UBC football team earned a 32-18 win against the Manitoba Bisons on Saturday, September 9 — their home opener of the 2017 season at Thunderbird Stadium.

“We don’t like losing and we knew what we had to do this week to overcome that loss,” said T-Bird running back Ben Cummins, who finished the match with an impressive 145 rushing yards.

With a little over three minutes remaining in the first, UBC took the initial lead when Michael O’Connor threw a five-yard pass to Trivel Pinto for the first touchdown.

At the start of the second quarter, Greg Hutchins successfully kicked two field goals, increasing the ’Birds’ lead to 13-0. Still, momentum began to fade for UBC toward halftime as the Bisons responded with a touchdown and field goal, cutting UBC’s lead to 13-10.

The ’Birds then had a momentum surge in the third quarter, where they made all the scoring plays.

Four minutes into the frame, Marcus Davis picked up UBC’s second touchdown. On the Bisons’ ensuing possession, they found themselves within three yards of the end zone, but it was the ’Birds that scored the touchdown as Elliot Graham intercepted Theo Deezar’s pass and ran it 107 yards.

With the play, Graham set a school record for the longest interception return.

“It was definitely one of the biggest moments in my football career,” said Graham. “It was a long run. It was hard, but I owe it to my defence for helping me.”

Graham, UBC's #90, is in his first year with the T-Birds. His 107-yard interception return breaks a 17-year-old record in the 'Birds history books.
Graham, UBC's #90, is in his first year with the T-Birds. His 107-yard interception return breaks a 17-year-old record in the 'Birds history books. Bob Frid / UBC Athletics / The Ubyssey

The scoring didn’t end there. Manitoba conceded a safety on their return to offence before Greg Hutchins recorded another field goal in the final two minutes to give the ’Birds’ a 32-10 lead.

Desperate to make up for the deficit, the Bisons opened the fourth quarter with a touchdown. Thanks to tight defence by both teams, it would be the only scoring play in the period as UBC came out on top 32-18.

Despite the win, UBC head coach Blake Nill felt that the team still has room for improvement in the games ahead.

“We’ve got to be more consistent offensively, finishing when we’re in the end zone. That’s something that’s plagued us for a season now,” said Nill.

Still, he believes his team is headed in the right direction.

“We’re going to get better. Our goal each and every week is just to get better. We got to find a way to manufacture a win,” said Nill.

The ’Birds will remain at home next week to host the Saskatchewan Huskies in the Homecoming Game. Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. at Thunderbird Stadium, with celebrations starting as early as 1 p.m. on campus.