Shorthanded Dinos hang on to defeat Rams
CALGARY – Fourth-year defensive back Michael Lau intercepted a Marc Mueller pass deep in the end zone to snuff out a late Regina drive while freshman quarterback Eric Dzwilewski threw for 259 yards and two touchdowns as the No. 5 Calgary Dinos defeated the ninth-ranked Regina Rams 24-21 Friday night at McMahon Stadium.
With the Rams marching downfield and having converted a third-and-11 to extend their drive, Mueller laid up a pass that sailed over the intended receiver and into the waiting arms of Lau 15 yards deep in the Calgary end zone with just 49 seconds to play. Though the Rams did get the ball back after Calgary conceded a safety, they were unable to get into position for the winning score.
Calgary (1-1) overcame a litany of penalties – more than 200 yards' worth – in the come-from-behind win. Regina (1-1) suffered its fair share of penalty woes as well, giving up 140 yards on 17 infractions as orange nylon littered the turf all evening.
The Dinos were playing without five All-Canadians – quarterback Erik Glavic, receivers Anthony Parker and Anthony Woodson, linebacker Andrea Bonaventura, and safety Anthony DesLauriers – but got solid performances from a reinforced defence and an offensive line that gave Dzwilewski plenty of time to find his targets.
Chris Dobko was his favourite, racking up 115 yards on 5 catches, but it was Richard Snyder that stole the thunder. Snyder caught just two passes on the night but both went for touchdowns of 17 and 43 yards. The second of those put the Dinos ahead for the first time midway through the third quarter and Nathan Coehoorn added some insurance just over two minutes later with a 76-yard punt return major, spurred on by the 4,293 fans in attendance all the way to the end zone.
"You know, we come in here missing all those key guys...some teams don't have five All-Canadians in a decade," said a relieved Calgary coach Blake Nill. "But our young guys stepped up. We took a lot of penalties, but that's characteristic of a young team and there's a lot of pressure on these guys. We couldn't afford to go 0-and-2 at home. It's a character win, and hopefully we can build on that from here on."
The penalty trouble nearly cost the Dinos the game late as the Rams marched downfield 85 yards, 58 of those coming courtesy four Calgary infractions. The Rams capped off the drive with Adrian Charles' second one-yard score of the night to bring them within two points at 21-19, but Calgary responded with a 24-yard field goal by Aaron Ifield and a late Regina safety wasn't enough.
Dzwilewski, starting for the first time since his final high school game last season at Centennial High School in Boise, Idaho, finished 13-for-20 passing while adding 61 yards along the ground. Both his touchdown passes to Snyder came in the back corner of the end zone on picture-perfect throws.
"He certainly stepped up tonight," said Nill. "He's a talent, and he can really throw the ball. Every week he's going to get better, so being able to pull one out tonight while he's still sort of cutting his teeth is helpful."
Steven Lumbala had 56 yards on four catches for Calgary, while Matt Walter picked up 68 hard-fought rushing yards to lead the Dinos.
Charles turned in an impressive performance for the Rams with 135 rushing yards on 27 carries, scoring both of Regina's touchdowns on one-yard dives into the end zone. The bruising back became the first Ram since 2008 to turn in a 100-yard rushing performance, following Austin Kappel's 115 yards on Oct. 18, 2008.
Mueller finished 24-for-40 for 323 yards and the lone late interception for Regina. His top target was Brenden Owens, who picked up 117 yards on eight catches, while Rory Copithorn added six catches for 85 yards.
Calgary harassed Mueller all night long, sacking the fifth-year pivot four times including a key effort late from Josh Symons. Tye Noble and Travis Payne led the Dinos with 8.5 and eight tackles, respectively.
Regina safety Matt Yausie put in an impressive performance in the defensive backfield, leading all tacklers with 12 on the night. Chris Sciog added 7.5 tackles, while linebacker Steve Famulak had the lone Regina sack.
The Rams return home to face Saskatchewan (1-1) next weekend, while the Dinos head on the road to face the Alberta Golden Bears next Saturday afternoon in Edmonton.
REG – TEAM Safety, 9:55, 2-0 REG
REG – Charles 1-yard TD run (Bodnar convert), 11:10, 9-0 REG
CGY – Snyder 18-yard TD pass from Dzwilewski (Ifield convert), 13:49, 9-7 REG
REG – Bodnar 30-yard FG, 7:19, 12-7 REG
CGY – Snyder 43-yard TD pass from Dzwilewski (Ifield convert), 9:54, 14-12 CGY
CGY – Coehoorn 76-yard punt return TD (Ifield convert), 12:00, 21-12 CGY
REG – Charles 1-yard TD run (Bodnar convert), 7:50, 21-19 CGY
CGY – Ifield 24-yard FG, 10:37, 24-19 CGY
REG – TEAM Safety, 14:44, 24-21 CGY
Calgary Sports Info