VANCOUVER — If you ask Brandon Deschamps to describe himself, the young man wearing No. 33 and lining up in the offensive backfield of the UBC Thunderbirds will keep it dead simple.
“I’m just a Prince George guy out there banging,” he likes to say.
On Saturday, in the second-to-final regular season home game of his Canada West football career, that was about as apt a description as you could offer.
In a game which the ‘Birds (4-2) had to have to continue their chase of second-place and a home playoff date in next month’s conference playoffs, all UBC did was step up with its most comprehensive effort of the season, scoring in all three phases and clinching a playoff berth by flattening the Alberta Golden Bears (2-4) by a 54-10 count at Thunderbird Stadium.
Most important of all?
It was the game that found the perfect balance between UBC’s high-powered, versatile and deep-threat passing game with a running game that for the first two-thirds of the regular season seemed to be missing.
And with that in mind, the guy known to his teammates as Banger was banging, bouncing and bullying his way all over the park Saturday.
Over his first four games of the conference season, Deschamps had carried 40 times for 233 yards and three scores. On Saturday, he carried 16 times for 176 yards and three TDs, his ability to work behind an ever-improving offensive line reflective in the fact that the Thunderbirds’ 552 overall yards on the day were 254 more than Alberta.
“It was a long time since I got all of that open field in a game,” confirmed the 2010 grad of Prince George’s Kelly Road Secondary. “At least it felt like that. It was a lot of built-up anger. A lot of built-up frustration. But you know, we have two guys on our offensive line that started the year on the defensive line. They pretty much just read O-line for Dummies and now they’re out their ballin’ out.”
The ‘Birds run game gashed Alberta so badly that Saturday’s game might be the last time UBC’s offence faces a three-man front with nine guys dropped into coverage the rest of the season.
And that open field Deschamps describes?
He not only created second-and-short on a number occasions for the UBC offence, there were times — like on his 68-yard touchdown run which made it 33-3 in the third quarter — when this team offered a reminder of why they were able to beat perennial national powerhouse Laval in its season opener back in late August.
“That is the biggest thing about football,” reflected Deschamps when asked how the improvement of the offensive line Saturday has made it seem like his 1,000-yard campaign from 2013 all over again. “You have to be able to do things without thinking, so they are getting to that point now and that just makes it all the easier for me.”
There were offensive highlights everywhere from UBC’s perspective on Saturday.
Marcus Davis took a pitch and turned it into a 20-yard scoring run and later turned a 66-yard punt return into another score. Quarterback Michael O’Connor there a 36-yard scoring strike to receiver Alex Morrison and finished his outing with no interceptions.
And then there was the superb play of freshman defensive halfback Stavros Katsantonis, who not only made two interceptions on the day, but also recovered a fumble that returned 61 yards to the house.
But more than anything, it was about No. 33, the kid named Banger, the kid who knows it’s all going to come to an end very soon.
“I’ve gotten older and I’ve learned a few things,” he said. “But at the end of the day football is football and it feels good to score touchdowns. And there’s not a whole lot of things better than winning.
“Now let’s get a few more because I only have so many home games left,” he continued, standing on the field long after his teammates had headed for their lockers. “I want to make them memorable and I want to leave everything I have on this field and to this program. I know it’s all coming to an end, but I also know I can still make a difference.”