Brandon Deschamps hit the magic number.
In his final football game of the regular season, the UBC Thunderbirds running back reached the 1,000-yard-mark for rushing and, for good measure, put some additional real estate behind him. Deschamps, a 21-year-old from Prince George, completed UBC's eight-game schedule in the Canada West Universities Athletic Association with 1,007 yards gained on the ground.
His milestone moment happened Friday night at Calgary's McMahon Stadium, where the Thunderbirds lost 34-17 to the University of Calgary Dinos.
"It's special to me," Deschamps said of topping 1,000 yards. "I've never really been a big stats guy but it's a really cool thing to think about -- just how hard it is to do and how hard it is to get something like that, especially in an eight-game season, and I didn't even play in all eight. It's not only cool for me, it's really cool for all the offensive linemen too, who get to hang their hats collectively on what we were able to do."
Due to a knee injury he suffered in a Sept. 28 home game against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, Deschamps missed part of that contest and was out of the lineup the following weekend when the T-birds visited the University of Manitoba Bisons.
Deschamps, a 2010 graduate of Kelly Road secondary school, finished the regular season as the second-ranked rusher in all of Canada. His yards-per-game average of 143.9 placed him behind only Mercer Timmis of the Dinos. Timmis rumbled for 1,157 yards in eight games, good for an average of 144.6 per contest.
Deschamps also scored six touchdowns for the Thunderbirds. Perhaps his most impressive accomplishment is this: in 145 carries, he didn't fumble the ball once.
Deschamps, in his third year on UBC's active roster after one year as a red-shirt, said he takes great pride in protecting the pigskin.
"Our running back coach, his number-one priority is not putting the ball on the ground," he said. "Since I've been at UBC, that's been one of the fundamental things -- you can't play running back if you don't have the ball. Possession is the biggest thing for a running back and if you're giving the ball up, you're giving up opportunities for points."
Coincidentally, the only other top-10 running back in Canadian Interuniversity Sport who went through the entire schedule without a fumble was Prince George's Jordan Botel, who suits up for the New Brunswick-based Mount Allison University Mounties of the Atlantic University Sport conference. In eight games, Botel had 170 carries, 758 yards (94.8 per outing) and six touchdowns. His stats made him the top rusher in the AUS and placed him eighth in the CIS.
Getting back to the Thunderbirds, they compiled a 4-4 record and earned the final playoff berth in Canada West. Their next test comes Saturday in Calgary, where they'll clash with the Dinos again, this time in a playoff semifinal. Winning won't be easy because the top-seeded Dinos went a perfect 8-0 during the regular season.
"They're the best team in our conference," Deschamps said. "We need to play the best football that we've played all year -- that we've played for the last few years -- in order to have a chance to beat them. We're going to really stress on trying to play a great game. At the same time, you don't want to be thinking about being perfect. You just want to go out there and play football. You want to be relaxed, you want to be confident and I think we are those things."
The other Canada West semifinal will see the second-ranked Bisons host the third-seeded Huskies on Friday. Both teams went 5-3 during the regular season.
The semifinal winners will meet in the Canada West championship game, known as the Hardy Cup, on Nov. 9.
Botel's Mounties finished second in the AUS with a 4-4 record. They will host the third-seeded Acadia Axemen (3-5) in a playoff semifinal on Saturday. The winner will take on the top-ranked Saint Mary's Huskies in the Loney Bowl championship game on Nov. 9.