By Stephane Arnault, October 30 2014 —
The University of Calgary Dinos football team have clinched first place in the Canada West Division, holding a record of six wins and one loss.
The Dinos accomplished the feat in fine fashion, pummelling the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds (1–5) 67–6 on Oct. 25.
“It’s huge for us. We really wanted to win this game and keep home field because we play best at home,” said Dinos runningback Mercer Timmis, who returned to action after suffering an ankle injury three weeks ago against the University of Regina.
The win secured the Dinos’ fourth-straight conference title. However, it was bittersweet as the win came without head coach Blake Nill at the helm. Nill was suspended one game for violating the university’s code of conduct for inappropriate comments made during their previous game against the University of Alberta Golden Bears.
Calgary experienced a number of missteps this season. Three weeks prior to Nill’s suspension, the Dinos forfeited a 71–3 victory against the University of Alberta Golden Bears because their roster had two
“There are all these little hurdles that we’ve got to jump over on this quest,” said Dinos quarterback Andrew Buckley. “It’s a little bit more adversity and it just adds character to us. It shows we can overcome these things and look past them.”
Buckley went 14 for 22 with 173 yards passing and threw for one touchdown.
Dinos offensive line coach Steve Buratto stepped in for Nill as head coach. Buratto has a long and successful history coaching in the Canadian Football League. This is his second year with the Dinos.
“We didn’t have a very good second day of practice and they came around, took the bit in the mouth and played the way they can and dominated as they’re capable of,” Buratto said. “I think they should be commended for the intensity they played with the entire game.They didn’t pay attention to the scoreboard. They played like it was 0–0 the whole game.”
Calgary’s run-first offence highlighted the opening quarter. Buckley rushed for 99 yards and a touchdown while Timmis ran for two. The Dinos also tacked on a field goal and safety, which brought the score to 25–0 after 15 minutes.
The Dinos’ running game found no shortage of open lanes, finishing the afternoon with 430 total rushing yards. Timmis ran the ball 15 times for 126 yards.
“We’ve got a lot of different guys touching the ball on run plays, so it’s not just straight running,” Timmis said. “We have a lot of jet sweeps, so we’re getting those yards in a lot of different ways. Our offensive line right now is playing at their best. Some of the holes that we had today were pretty ridiculous. They keep bringing it every week and they make our jobs easier.”
UBC’s offence finished the contest with 205 total yards. Their only points came from a field goal and two safeties. Thunderbirds quarterback Carson Williams went 8 for 23 and threw for 62 yards, along with one interception.
Jake Harty also returned to the Dinos lineup, picking up 90 receiving yards and one touchdown. The wide receiver suffered a leg injury against Manitoba last month.
“Coming back from the injury, I felt really good out there today, probably the best I’ve felt all season,” Harty said. “Going into the playoffs I hope I just keep that momentum going.”
Buratto spoke about his team’s performance as they near the end of the regular season.
“Particularly when you’re heading into the playoff situation, you want to be playing at your absolute very best this time of the year,” Buratto said. “The young men dedicated themselves in the latter part of the week by really paying attention to what was going on and cleaning up some of the mistakes they were making in practice.”
The Dinos will wrap up their regular season on Nov. 1 against the University of Manitoba Bisons (3–4) at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg.