Playoff hopes trampled by herd of Bison

The University of Calgary Dinos football team faced off against the University of Manitoba Bisons Fri., Oct. 21 with a playoff spot at stake. For both teams the game was a must win. If the Bisons won, they were guaranteed a playoff spot and knocked the Dinos out of playoff contention. If the Dinos won, they would have a chance to make playoffs. Unfortunately, the Dinos squad experienced a heartbreaking loss in a fourth quarter battle over one point.

The game began promisingly as Dinos wide receiver Scott McKenna ran a 47-yard kickoff return. Five minutes later, defensive lineman Dan Federkeil knocked down Manitoba’s first pass of the game, forcing the Bisons to settle for a field goal. Calgary replied with a 28-yard field goal from kicker Steven Hughes late in the first quarter.

The second quarter was jam-packed with (mostly unnecessary) penalties and unsuccessful field goal attempts. The only real excitement was a fake punt play by the Dinos late in the quarter, resulting in a 40-yard run to the Bisons’ five-yard line by running back Aneel Brar. Following this amazing run, quarterback Charles Guedo pranced into the Manitoba end-zone, giving the Dinos their first touchdown of the game.

Unfortunately, with only 19 seconds left in the half, the Bisons responded with a touchdown of their own, bringing the half time score to 14-10 for the Bisons.

The second half began with the Dinos finally dominating the playing field, earning two third quarter touchdowns. The first by Hughes, who not only scored the touchdown but ran all the yards to get to the end-zone and kicked the one-point conversion, and another following Dino Chris Wollin’s interception by slot back Andrew Lunse, who caught an extremely difficult pass in the end-zone. These brought the score to 14-24 for the Dinos.

The fourth quarter began with a beautiful interception by Dinos defensive back Jon Waldie, which was called back due to a pass interference penalty. Five minutes after the returned interception, the Bisons scored a touchdown, narrowing the Dinos’ lead to 21-24.

The Dinos kicked a field goal with only four minutes left in the game, but the Bisons didn’t give up. With only 1:10 left, they scored a touchdown. The final score was 28-27 for the Bisons.

The game’s top offensive player was Hughes, who rushed 28 times for 234 yards. He now has 120 carries for 836 yards for the season. Hughes also kicked eight times for 304 yards.

“The game came right down to the little things,” he remembered. “I missed a field goal in the second quarter and it could have won us the game. It really hits you right in the heart. It was the last five minutes that killed us. We had lots of unnecessary penalties, but overall we played really well. We controlled the ball as much as we could and played our hearts out. It’s really a bittersweet loss. I’m glad I had such a good game overall but I would have given that up if we could have won.”

Another top offensive player was McKenna, who had five catches for 48 yards and four punt returns for 56 yards total.

Top defensive players included lineman Josh Campbell, who totaled seven solo tackles, Waldie and Dave Gruninger, with six apiece, and Federkeil, who had five.

“We’re definitely a little down on ourselves since we had a chance to sack the quarterback in the fourth and missed,” admitted Federkeil. “It would have probably changed the outcome of the game. A lot of stupid penalties killed us. It’s very frustrating training all year and having it end like this. We played our best 60 minutes of football all season in this game and, unfortunately, it wasn’t good enough. For fifth-year players such as myself, it was our last shot. It’s disheartening to end like this, so next week we’re playing to redeem ourselves.”

“It was a devastating loss,” agreed Wollin. “I’ve gone to war with these guys for the last five years and now it’s over. We gave it our all but we came up short… just short. There were definitely some questionable calls, but you can’t control the referees. You just have to try and keep you heads and hearts up and play the best that you can. We played proud and next weekend we will be playing for pride.”

On that note, the Dinos have basically finished their season. They will play against the undefeated University of Saskatchewan Huskies Sat., Oct. 29 at 1 p.m. The game will be broadcast on Sportsnet West.

Even if they win, it will make no difference in their outcome for playoffs. It will be the last game for many of the players and all Dinos fans are encouraged to come, be loud, been seen on TV and cheer on our retiring fifth-year players.

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