Kellen Forrest, Dinos Communications
CALGARY – The third-ranked University of Calgary Dinos claimed top spot in Canada West for the seventh time in eight seasons with a 34-16 victory over the Manitoba BIsons Friday night at a windy McMahon Stadium.
With the win, Calgary improves to 6-0 and will enjoy home field advantage throughout the Canada West playoffs. Manitoba falls to 3-3 with the setback.
The wind and snow did no favours for the passing attacks of both teams, and there was a distinct advantage driving north to south.
While it was another solid performance from the Dinos offence, which put up 433 yards of total offence, it was the Calgary defence that really stood out. The Dinos front was relentless, constantly putting pressure on Manitoba quarterback Des Catellier. Catellier was held to just 121 yards passing on 9 of 23 completions, well under his season average of nearly 350 yards per game, and was sacked five times on the evening.
Not only did the Dinos defense hold the Bisons to just 16 points, they also were responsible for the first score of the game. With Manitoba embarking on a promising drive with the wind, a botched exchange between Catellier and Jamel Lyles saw Calgary's Boston Rowe scoop up the football and race 68 yards to the end zone, giving the Dinos an early 7-0 lead.
After three drives that ended in punts, two by the Bisons and one by the Dinos, the Dinos offence would be the first to break through. Heading straight into the teeth of the wind, Calgary quarterback Adam Sinagra led a nine-play, 79-yard drive that ended with 24-yard touchdown pass to his favorite target, Hunter Karl. A well-designed play action bootleg left Karl all by his lonesome as he strolled into the endzone. The Dinos took a 14-0 lead into the second quarter.
It wouldn't take the Dinos long to capitalize on finally driving with the wind, as they scored just 2:15 into the second quarter on an Alex Basilis 11-yard touchdown pass from Sinagra.
The Dinos ended the half on a high note, with another tremendous kick from Niko DiFonte. With the wind at his back, DiFonte boomed a 52-yard field goal through the uprights, tying the second-longest field goal in Dinos history behind his own Hardy Cup-winning 59-yarder from a year ago. Add a defensive safety given up by the Bisons, and a Manitoba punter Brad Mikoluff rouge, and the Dinos took a 25-1 lead into halftime.
Starting the third quarter, both offences would struggle to find traction. Moving with the wind, the Dinos finally got rolling and put together a 69-yard drive, ending in a Robinson Rodrigues 20-yard touchdown run.
Manitoba finally found a way to penetrate Calgary's defense early in the fourth quarter. An outstanding one-handed catch along the sidelines by Dylan Schrot put Manitoba deep into Dinos territory, and Jamel Lyles finished the job with a 17-yard touchdown run.
Victor St. Pierre-Laviolette scored the final major of the night for Manitoba, a 24-yard scamper.
"I thought the first half they played really outstanding, other than the one drive," Dinos Head Coach Wayne Harris said of his defence. "We did give up a couple big plays in the third and fourth, but overall I thought it was a very solid defensive effort.
Hunter Karl continued his strong season, catching nine passes for 125 yards and a touchdown, while Robinson Rodrigues had a solid game on the ground, carrying the ball 13 times for 70 yards and a touchdown. Sinagra tossed for 305 yards and two TDs on the night, while Grant McDonald picked up two sacks on the night for the Dinos.
Lyles picked up 147 yards and a touchdown on the ground, while Dylan Schrot's two catches for 60 yards led the way for Manitoba.
Next up, the Dinos will host the Regina Rams on Friday, Oct. 19, while the Bisons will head to Saskatoon to face the Huskies next week.
CGY – Boston Rowe 68-yard fumble return TD (Niko DiFonte convert), 3:30, 7-0 CGY
CGY – Hunter Karl 24-yard TD pass from Adam Sinagra (Niko DiFonte convert), 12:13, 14-0 CGY
CGY – Alex Basilis 11-yard TD pass from Adam Sinagra (Hunter Karl 2-pt attempt failed), 2:15, 20-0 CGY
CGY – Team Safety, 4:08, 22-0 CGY
MAN – Brad Mikoluff 50-yard punt single, 14:30, 22-1 CGY
CGY – Niko DiFonte 52-yard FG, 15:00, 25-1 CGY
CGY – Niko DiFonte 49-yard missed FG single, 4:12, 26-1 CGY
CGY – Robinson Rodrigues 20-yard TD run (Niko DiFonte convert), 9:31, 33-1 CGY
CGY – Niko DiFonte 62-yard punt single, 13:41, 34-1 CGY
MAN – Jamel Lyles 17-yard TD run (Des Catellier 2-pt attempt failed), 2:05, 34-7 CGY
MAN – Victor St. Pierre-Laviolette 24-tard TD run (Matt Riley convert), 6:43, 34-14 CGY
MAN – Brad Mikoluff 73-yard kickoff single, 6:47, 34-15 CGY
MAN – Brad Mikoluff 80-yard punt single, 9:14, 34-15 CGY