Justin Mackenzie; Dinos Communications
CALGARY – The No. 2-ranked University of Calgary Dinos came back in the fourth quarter to remain perfect on the season with a 36-27 victory over the Manitoba Bisons at a windy McMahon Stadium Saturday afternoon.
With the win, the Dinos are now 6-0 on the year and sitting four points clear of second place in the conference. They successfully clinched home field in the first round of the playoffs and will look to wrap up first place next week in Regina.
Michael Klukas and Hunter Karl yet again led the offense with a touchdown each. After going into the fourth quarter down 27-20, the Dinos were able to bring it all together on offence and defence, outscoring the Bisons 16-0 while putting them in negative yardage for the quarter with a net total of -11.
The wind was definitely a factor throughout the game, especially in the second half where they teams combined for just 30 offensive yards into the wind.
The Bisons scored the majority of their points in the third quarter due to the Dinos kicking into the wind, giving Manitoba great field position.
"The wind kind of shifted and came in from the north which really changed this game," Dinos coach Wayne Harris said, "and they were able to take advantage of that."
Things started off the well for the Dinos scoring on their first possession of the ball game with Sanagra hitting Hunter Karl from 15 yards out opening the scoring. The Dinos continued to look good throughout the first half putting up two touchdowns and took a 20-14 lead into the break.
It seemed like it was an entirely new football game in the second half due to the weather conditions. The Bisons stormed out of the break getting a touchdown and two field goals in their first four drives of the quarter while the Dinos were not able to muster a single point, putting Manitoba up by seven after three.
However, the tables completely turned in the fourth and the Dinos were able to come back into form with a touchdown off a run from Josiah Joseph, along with two safeties and a field goal. The defence was also impressive for Calgary, forcing two fumbles and grabbing two interceptions.
"We always talk about resiliency," Harris stated. "Things aren't always going to go our way and it's how we respond to it that measures the character of your team. Our guys know how to respond."
Adam Laurensse had a couple of great plays while recording his 7.5 tackles on the day, with his biggest coming in the fourth forcing a fumble from Theo Deezer, diminishing any hopes of a Manitoba late-game comeback.
Adam Sinagra completed 21 of 42 passes for 326 yards and two touchdowns. Robert Stewart had 10 runs for 99 yards, adding to the 472 total yards of offence for the Dinos, while kicker Niko DiFonte kicked his career-long 49-yard field goal late in the second quarter. Karl and Klukas ate up the majority of the receiving yardage for Calgary, picking up 127 and 107, respectively.
For Manitoba, Deezar and Des Catellier split the QB duties and went a combined 17-for-32 for 278 yards and a touchdown. Jesse Walker had 119 yards on seven catches for the Bisons (1-5), while Jamel Lyles was held to 47 yards on 13 carries out of the backfield.
Next week, the Bisons will try and get back on track back in Manitoba against the UBC Thunderbirds. The Dinos head to Regina for their first contest at the new Mosaic Stadium, where they will look to clinch first place with a win or a loss by 19 points or less.
Photo by David Moll