THE unranked University of Manitoba Bisons upset the No. 7 UBC Thunderbirds 31-24 in CIS football action in Vancouver on Saturday.
Led by running back Nic Demski's two touchdowns -- one on a 96-yard punt-return -- the Bisons won their season-opener for the first time since 2008.
Bisons quarterback Cam Clark, a fifth-year player from B.C., recorded a win in his first CIS start. Running back Kienan LaFrance had 19 carries for 174 yards and scored rushing touchdowns of one and three yards.
"It's satisfying. We're out here playing with a new quarterback and a bunch of new starters but the old cliché is still true -- it's not where you start, it's where you finish," said Bisons' offensive co-ordinator Vaughan Mitchell in a telephone interview from Vancouver. "It's important for our guys to come together quickly and this is a game where, if you were from the Okanagan Sun, St. Paul's High School, Oak Park High School, wherever, all of our guys became a Bison today."
Clark completed 13 of 24 passes for 194 yards with one interception. Manitoba's leading receivers were slotback Danny Turek with four catches for 81 yards and wide receiver Brendon Bowman with three catches for 50 yards.
"It feels great, we went out and did it," Demski told 101.5 UMFM radio in the post-game show. "We have lots of belief in our team. Last year we lost our first game at home in front of our fans and it was disappointing. Half our team is from B.C... playing in front of their family and friends, so this is kind of like our second home. It was awesome to win our first game on the road."
Defensive lineman Ranji Atwall had two sacks and a game-high 7.5 total tackles while safety Teague Sherman had six tackles, a sack and an interception. Linebacker Thomas Hall had 5.5 tackles, one break-up and one forced fumble and moved into sixth place on the Bisons all-time list with 134.5 total tackles.
UBC gained more yardage in the air (232 yards receiving to Manitoba's 194), rushed for more yards (291 yards to 258) and had the ball for a total of seven more minutes in the game, but it was the Bisons who held the lead for most of the game.
The Bisons will host the University of Saskatchewan Huskies Sept. 8 at 1 p.m. in their Canada West Conference home opener.
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