The University of Calgary Dinos football team's dreams of a playoff upset shattered on the horns of a charging University of Manitoba Bisons team after a 27ÂÂ-5 loss Sat., Nov. 3. Though the Dinos outgained the Bisons 342 yards to 255, they turned the ball over 11 times with three interceptions, four fumbles and four turnovers on downs. The Bisons capitalized on the Dinos' mistakes, scoring two touchdowns and one field goal off of Dino fumbles.
"We just turned the ball over too many times," said Dinos head coach Blake Nill. "When you turn the ball over that many times, you just aren't going to win too many football games."
The Dinos started the game poorly, turning the ball over on both their first possessions. After the Dinos held the Bisons to their own zone on the Bisons' first possession, Dino quarterback Julian Marchand threw the ball to Bison Brady Browne, his first of three interceptions on the day. The Bisons couldn't make anything of their next possession and then received another Dino turnover gift.
Marchand was sacked at the Dinos' own 20-yard line and fumbled the ball. Bison Jim Jeavons recovered the ball for Manitoba and ran it back to the Dinos one-yard line, making it easy for Matt Henry to punch the ball in, giving the Bisons a 7Â-0 lead.
Aaron Ifield put the Dinos on the board with a 27-yard field goal with 1:49 left in the first quarter but that would be the only points the Dinos would score in the half. By half-time, the Bisons held a 20Â-3 lead.
The Dinos didn't start the second half any better than the first, as Canada West rushing yards leader Anthony Woodson fumbled the ball on the Dinos' first possession. Bison Bob Reist recovered the ball at the Dinos 35-yard line, giving the Bisons another opportunity. The Bisons made the score 27Â-3 with 12:17 left in the third after a John Makie touchdown pass to Neil Fulgueras.
A Bisons team safety in the third quarter made the final score 27Â-5.
The Bisons are back in the Canada West final for the second straight year. Last year, the Bisons lost 32Â-15 to the eventual Vanier Cup finalists University of Saskatchewan Huskies.
"[The Bisons] have the potential to go as far as they want," said Nill. "The thing they have to watch for is as you get further and further in the playoffs, you're going to play the best teams. The best teams aren't necessarily going to hand the game over, which I feel we did."
The Dinos, Canada West's leading rushing offence in the regular season, picked up 172 yards but could not make up for the turnovers. Woodson carried the ball 18 times for 105 yards and rookie Matt Walter, who finished second behind Woodson for rushing yards in Canada West, picked up 62 yards on 16 carries but each lost one fumble.
Though the Dinos haven't won a playoff game since 1995--the year they won the Vanier Cup--for this young squad, it's more about the future than the present results and the future looks bright.
"There's no question that we're a better program than last year," said Nill. "It wasn't just about making the playoffs. If you look at the games, overall, we were competitive in every game we played--maybe except for the Regina game where we lost our quarterback. I'm hoping the kids will take a little momentum from our season, turn it into another great off-season and that, in turn, will lead to a better season in '08."