EDMONTON – Fifth-year quarterback Andrew Buckley set a new CIS single-season passing record as the University of Calgary Dinos completed a perfect regular season with a 64-28 win over the Alberta Golden Bears.
Playing just one drive deep into the third quarter before taking a seat, Buckley completed 20 of 27 passes for 463 yards and three touchdowns, giving him 3,162 passing yards on the season – enough to break the week-old national record of 3,136 set by Ottawa's Derek Wendel. The reigning Hec Crighton Trophy winner completes the regular season with 177 completions on 246 attempts with 19 touchdowns and just one interception – which he tossed early in this contest at Foote Field.
Asked about his thoughts on the national record, Buckley instead answered about the team's 8-0 season.
"There was so much turmoil in the off-season, and we were just hoping to grind through and get into the playoffs," said Buckley. "At the start of the season, we realized we had potential, and we really just kept the ball rolling from there."
"Everything just felt good," he admitted when pressed about his own performance. "I have to give a ton of credit to the O-line, they kept me completely untouched all day. And my receivers were just out there making plays – Rashaun Simonise had an awesome day. All around the board, the guys were balling out for me so I appreciate them."
"Andrew has just been steady with his leadership and decision making," said Calgary head coach Wayne Harris. "He had an outstanding season, it's well-deserved – he's an outstanding leader in our program and a great young man. It really is astounding, and we're really excited for him."
All three of Buckley's touchdown passes went to Simonise, who had a career day himself with nine catches for 272 yards and three majors, beginning with a 99-yard bomb 10 minutes into the first quarter. That was the third-longest passing play in school history, and it made it 14-0 Calgary.
Amidst the major news for Buckley, Dinos kicker Johnny Mark added 19 more points to his CIS-record career total, ending his career with 535. Additionally, he was good on all four of his field goal opportunities, adding his name to another CIS record with 26 on the season – tied for the most in one year with Guelph's Daniel Ferraro's 2014 campaign.
Calgary's first touchdown, a four-yard romp by Mercer Timmis, ended a crazy sequence where Buckley threw his only interception on the season, only for the Dinos to get the ball back on the very next play with an Alberta fumble. Two plays later, the Dinos were in the end zone. Following Simonise's 99-yard romp down the sidelines, Jimmy Underdahl added an 8-yard rushing major to give the Dinos a 21-0 lead after the opening quarter.
A pair of Johnny Mark field goals from 39 and 26 yards bookended Simonise's second TD, a 6-yard catch from Buckley as the Dinos responded to an early Ed Ilnicki touchdown for the Bears in the second quarter, and it was 34-7 Calgary at half time.
The Dinos' opening drive of the second half ended with Buckley's record-setting touchdown, and he was replaced by Underdahl for the rest of the afternoon. The fourth-year backup went on to complete 12 of 14 passes for 217 yards and a touchdown through the rest of the game.
Bryce Harper's 9-yard run and Brett Blaszko's 62-yard catch from Underdahl accounted for the Dinos' other major scores in the second half, with Blaszko kicking his own point after to account for all seven points on the play. Mark added two more 39-yard field goals, and a safety and a kickoff single rounded out the Dinos' scoring. Alberta scored three majors in the second half, with Nathan Filipek, Zach Wilkie, and Jimmy Ralph hauling in Brad Baker passes.
Baker had an outstanding outing himself, completing 25 of 39 passes for 449 yards and three touchdowns. Jimmy Ralph accounted for 220 of those yards in a losing cause for the Golen Bears.
The Dinos fell victim to penalties during an eventful first half, with nine infractions for 85 yards at the break, but things did get cleaned up in the second and they finished with just 100 penalty yards on the day. However, Harris stressed the importance of discipline heading into the postseason.
"It was a bit of a sloppy start, and we need to clean up the penalties," he said. "We need to continue to focus on how we execute and get our discipline under control. If we can do those things, it will help us along the way – but it's just a commitment now to continuing to get better."
The top-ranked Dinos wrap up the season at 8-0 for just the second time in school history, the first coming back in 2013. They will embark on the playoff trail by hosting the Saskatchewan Huskies in a Hardy Cup semi-final next Saturday, Nov. 7 at McMahon Stadium, with kickoff at 1 p.m. The winner will advance to the 79th Hardy Cup Nov. 14.
"It's back to work tomorrow," said Buckley. "We realize what an opportunity we have this year and the veteran leadership on this team, and we know the kind of work it's going to take going into the playoffs."
CGY – Mercer Timmis 4-yard TD run (Johnny Mark convert), 6:03, 7-0 CGY
CGY – Rashaun Simonise 99-yard TD pass from Andrew Buckley (Johnny Mark convert), 10:03, 14-0 CGY
CGY – Jimmy Underdahl 8-yard TD run (Johnny Mark convert), 13:26, 21-0 CGY
ALB – Ed Ilnicki 2-yard TD run (Stephen Fabian convert), 0:27, 21-7 CGY
CGY – Johnny Mark 39-yard FG, 3:34, 24-7 CGY
CGY – Rashaun Simonise 6-yard TD pass from Andrew Buckley (Johnny Mark convert), 6:52, 31-7 CGY
CGY – Johnny Mark 26-yard FG, 14:50, 34-7 CGY
CGY – Rashaun Simonise 49-yard TD pass from Andrew Buckley (Johnny Mark convert), 1:33, 41-7 CGY
CGY – Bryce Harper 9-yard TD run (Johnny Mark convert), 8:18, 48-7 CGY
CGY – Johnny Mark kickoff single, 8:21, 49-7 CGY
ALB – Nathan Filipek 24-yard TD pass from Brad Baker (Stephen Fabian convert), 11:04, 49-14 CGY
CGY – Brett Blaszko 62-yard TD pass from Jimmy Underdahl (Brett Blaszko convert), 11:50, 56-14 CGY
ALB – Zach Wilkie 13-yard TD pass from Brad Baker (Stephen Fabian convert), 2:08, 56-21 CGY
CGY – TEAM safety, 4:52, 58-21 CGY
CGY – Johnny Mark 39-yard FG, 6:23, 61-21 CGY
ALB – Jimmy Ralph 22-yard TD pass from Brad Baker (Stephen Fabian convert), 8:26, 61-28 CGY
CGY – Johnny Mark 39-yard FG, 10:11, 64-28 CGY