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Bison trip has unexpected, happy ending

Post rare pigskin win in Saskatoon

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IT'S a trip Brian Dobie has made too many times to remember during his days as head coach of the University of Manitoba Bisons.

And, invariably, it went something like this: The Bisons pile on the bus to Saskatoon to face the University of Saskatchewan Huskies filled with hope and promise... only to suffer in silence for most of the nine-hour trip home after another loss.

Then came last Friday night's massive 33-26 win over the Huskies -- their first in enemy territory since 2006 -- that vaults the Bisons into a second-place tie with Saskatchewan and UBC at 4-3 and sets up a juicy final weekend of Canada West football action.

"I'm really sick right now. I've got this cold-flu and I've been just miserable for days now," began Dobie Sunday. "But, I'll tell you what, that was the best bus ride I've had home in years. It was well worth every cough on the way home."

The victory over the No. 7-ranked Huskies means the Bisons still have a shot to host a playoff game at Investors Group Field. They wrap up their regular season Saturday in Edmonton against the winless Alberta Golden Bears, a night after UBC is in Calgary to face the unbeaten Dinos while the Huskies are in Regina. Should the T-Birds lose Friday and the Bisons and Huskies both win a day later, Manitoba would grab second because of a plus-5 point differential in head-to-head games.

"That would be huge for so many reasons, this year in particular with our first year in this stadium," said Dobie. "That's what made Friday's win so big. You go in there and they're the big show in town. They pack that place, they spend a lot of ton of money on fireworks in the pre-game and every time they score a touchdown... emotionally, that's in the back of everyone's minds.

"It's a tough place to win. We addressed it all week with our team. Everybody knew the scenario and what we were up against. It was spelled out to them that (the Huskies) are confident, they are in second place and they hold the cards, plus they beat us in our park.

"I told them at our pre-game meal, 'Look, you guys just spent nine hours on a bus, slept in a hotel room bed, ate restaurant food, hung around the hotel all day long on game day and now you have to go out and play a team that has already beaten you.'

"And they responded."

Bisons' QB Jordan Yantz was huge in the win, completing 18 of 32 passes for 364 yards and TD strikes to Matt Sawyer, Nic Demski, Alex Vitt and Dustin Pedersen, while rushing for 50 yards.

Anthony Coombs rushed for 98 yards on 16 carries while Cam Teschuk intercepted a pass late that helped seal the deal for the Bisons.

"Our offensive line was really beaten up and (Yantz) was, by far, the most outstanding, the most valuable player on the field the other night," said Dobie. "He was fantastic."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 21, 2013 C16

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