Dinos book date with Huskies for 73rd Hardy Cup
CALGARY – Anthony Parker returned kickoffs for touchdowns
in the first and last minutes of the game while Steve Truzak hauled
in three interceptions as the second-ranked Calgary Dinos defeated
the Alberta Golden Bears for the second time in as many weeks with
a 45-13 Canada West semi-final victory Saturday afternoon.
The Dinos (8-1), who have been on a collision course with the No. 3 Saskatchewan Huskies (8-1), will meet their prairie opponents for the 73rd Hardy Cup championship next Saturday, Nov. 14 at Griffiths Stadium in Saskatoon (12 p.m. MT, Shaw TV, The FAN 960, www.fan960.com). The Dinos will attempt to defend their 2008 Canada West title and win back-to-back conference championships for the first time since 1992 and 1993.
Early big plays on special teams and defence compensated for a lackluster performance by the high-flying Calgary offence in the first half, where neither team moved the ball particularly effectively through the first 30 minutes.
Parker set a school record with his 108-yard kickoff return just 16 seconds into the game, and a 70-yard Aaron Ifield kickoff single on the next play had Calgary up 8-0 with 14:44 still on the clock. Truzak picked off Quade Armstrong on Alberta’s second offensive play, and two plays after that Nathan Coehoorn took a 34-yard carry into the end zone, putting the Dinos up 15-0 just 2:05 into the contest.
Ifield and Hugh O’Neill traded field goals to round out the first half scoring, and Calgary took an 18-3 lead into the half despite just 50 passing yards in the first two quarters.
“It certainly wasn’t an exciting game and not our best offensive performance of the year, but we came out in the second half, persevered, and ran the ball well,” said Calgary head coach Blake Nill. “Our defence is also starting to play better. We did a better job against the run, and despite their last drive I thought we did a good job stifling them. Now we have to get ready for Saskatchewan.”
Coming out of the break with the Bears still very much in the game, both sides again struggled to move the ball early in the third quarter although Alberta slowly began to win the field position battle. The Dinos didn’t record a first down in the second half until nearly nine minutes in. Backed up on their own 12 yard line, Calgary ate up 86 yards in just three plays to set up a 15-yard Ifield field goal.
On the next play, Truzak grabbed his third pick of the afternoon, giving the Calgary offence the ball right back. Three plays and 62 yards later, the Dinos were again unable to punch it into the end zone and settled for another short field goal – but the offence had emerged from its funk.
The floodgates opened in the fourth quarter as Calgary scored two touchdowns in the first eight minutes on a 21-yard run by Matt Walter and a 37-yard scamper by Steven Lumbala.
The Golden Bears were able to muster only a late safety and a 24-yard touchdown pass from Armstrong to Make Wasylyniuk, followed by a two-point convert by the same pair with just 65 seconds left on the clock.
On the ensuing onside kick attempt, Parker grabbed the ball at his own 52 yard line and took it all the way back for his second special teams major of the afternoon, bookending the game with kickoff returns in the first and 60th minutes.
Armstrong finished the game 13-20 for 134 yards and one interception, while Julian Marchand also saw action, throwing two picks against six completions on 16 attempts. It was not a great day for quarterbacks all around, with Calgary’s Erik Glavic struggling for just 10 completions on 23 attempts for 154 yards.
Wasylyniuk led the way with 54 receiving yards for the Bears, while Tendayi Jozzy, appearing on the field for the first time in Alberta’s three games against Calgary this season, rushed for 69 yards. Matthew Jarvis added 64 along the ground for the Bears, who saw their season come to a close.
Parker was again Mr. Everything for the Dinos. In addition to his 166 kickoff return yards, he added two carries for 31 yards and three catches for 74 yards, racking up 271 all-purpose. Walter had another solid day running the ball for Calgary with 163 yards on 17 carries, an average of 9.6.
Truzak’s three-interception afternoon set a school post-season record and tied the school record, joining five other players in recording three picks in a game. Of those six occurrences, five of them have come against the Alberta Golden Bears. Matt Grohn led the Dinos with seven tackles on the afternoon, with Deji Oduwole adding six including a sack. Jason Hetherington and Joseph Hartman replied with five each for Alberta.
The Dinos’ win sets up a date with the Saskatchewan Huskies next week in a showdown for conference superiority at Griffiths Stadium. Calgary’s only loss of the season came 34-33 in overtime in Week 1 at Saskatchewan, and the Dinos will look for redemption as the teams meet in the playoffs for the first time since the 1995 Hardy Cup game – a 32-30 Calgary win in overtime.
With a big crowd expected next Saturday in Saskatoon, Nill said it will come down to who wants it more as the second- and third-ranked teams in the nation battle for the Hardy Cup.
“We need to be able to match their intensity and their desire,” Nill said. “We know we can match their athleticism and we can match their physicality, so it’s going to come down to intensity.”
The Canada West champion will advance to play the Atlantic champion at the Uteck Bowl Nov. 21, with the winner of that game advancing to the Desjardins Vanier Cup Nov. 28 at Université Laval in Quebec City.
NOTES: Saturday marked the fifth all-time playoff meeting between the provincial rivals, with Calgary winning for the third time…the win was Calgary’s 13th consecutive victory at McMahon Stadium…all-time the Dinos are 11-2 at home in post-season competition…
CGY – Parker 108-yard kickoff return TD (Ifield convert), 0:16, 7-0 CGY
CGY – Ifield 70-yard kickoff single, 0:16, 8-0 CGY
CGY – Coehoorn 34-yard TD run (Ifield convert), 2:05, 15-0 CGY
CGY – Ifield 26-yard FG, 14:35, 18-0 CGY
ALTA – O’Neill 32-yard FG, 5:35, 18-3 CGY
CGY – Ifield 15-yard FG, 12:16, 21-3 CGY
CGY – Ifield 11-yard FG, 15:00, 24-3 CGY
CGY – Walter 21-yard TD run (Ifield convert), 5:38, 31-3 CGY
CGY – Lumbala 37-yard TD run (Ifield convert), 8:00, 38-3 CGY
ALTA – TEAM Safety, 12:30, 38-5 CGY
ALTA – Wasylyniuk 24-yard TD pass from Armstrong (Convert: Wasylyniuk pass from Armstrong), 38-13 CGY
CGY – Parker 58-yard kickoff return for TD (Ifield convert), 14:03, 45-13 CGY
Sports Information Director
University of Calgary Dinos