Fumbles, flags and follies, oh my!

The University of Calgary Dinos football squad kicked their Kickoff losing habit Saturday as they defeated the University of Alberta Golden Bears 17-11 in front of 3,108 fans at McMahon Stadium. The strong turnout witnessed an uneventful turnover- and penalty-filled game. Both teams combined for 14 turnovers and 206 yards in penalties. Despite the mistakes, the Dinos managed to move into a four-way tie for first place in the Canada West standings.

Although the game was less-than-pretty and included several miscues by the sloppy offence, Dinos head coach Blake Nill explained that a win is a win, despite how they played.

“It wasn’t just turnovers [that hurt our offence], it was also penalties,” he said. “We’re not the kind of offence that can play from a hole. So there is no doubt [turnovers and penalties] took away all our momentum. It’s not a pretty win, but it’s a win and one that we’ll take right now and hopefully get better.”

The game became a defensive show from the onset as the Dinos intercepted throws from Bears quarterback Joe Orlics twice in the first half and both teams had three fumbles apiece by the break. Though the teams combined for over 300 yards in the first half, neither team could get into the end zone. Every time the offence tried to move the ball they would inevitably turn it over, snuffing out promising drives.

Nill said that the turnovers were a result of the youth on the field.

“There is no question, [when] you have four first-year quarterbacks, that’s a recipe for disaster,” he said. “Our tailback, he’s carried the ball a little bit, but he’s not a five-year veteran.”

By the end of the first half, the two teams combined for a less-than-impressive one point, with the Dinos benefitting from an Aaron Ifield single off a missed 35-yard field goal at the 12:52 mark of the second quarter.

The game continued after halftime in much the same way until the six-minute mark of the third quarter when kicker Hugh O’Neill booted a 37-yard field goal to give the Bears a 3-1 lead.

The Dinos found a spark of offence in the third quarter when running back Matt Walter took a handoff and ran 69 yards from the Calgary 35. But once again, the drive halted as the Bears’ defence held on the goal line and forced the Dinos to turn the ball over on downs.

The fourth quarter provided some mild excitement, producing two touchdowns, two Dinos field goals, numerous turnovers and several more penalties. The Dinos defence stepped up, intercepting the Bears four times, once for a touchdown.

Minutes into the fourth quarter, Orlics dropped back to pass and threw a perfect touchdown strike. Unfortunately, it was to the wrong team as Dinos defensive back Brent Ferguson intercepted the ball and ran it back 52 yards for the team’s only touchdown of the day. This put the Dinos up 14-3 and from there they never looked back.

Ferguson said the touchdown was important for the Dinos, especially as the offence was not able to move the ball.

“[They’re] important points we put on the board,” he said. “It was a defensive battle. Anything to get on the board helped out, so it was a good play. I was glad I could contribute.”

Ferguson tied a University of Calgary record for most individual interceptions with three and received a Canada West Player of the Week nod for his efforts.

Late in the game the Bears scored the only offensive touchdown of the day and converted for two points to bring the score to 14-11. Ifield added a late field goal allowing the Dinos to escape with a 17-11 win.

The Dinos play next week against the 2-1 Simon Fraser Clan in Burnaby, B.C.

Ferguson is optimistic about the matchup.

“[We] just need to keep doing what we’ve been practicing and trusting that the guy next to you is going to get the job done,” he said. “Hopefully it will turn out like it did today with a ‘W’.”