By Sonny Sachdeva, November 14, 2015 —
The script was written for the Dinos football team as they headed into their Nov. 14 matchup against the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds.
The University of Calgary rolled through the regular season undefeated, and easily took down the University of Saskatchewan in the first instalment of their playoff schedule. All that stood between the U of C and the Canada West championship was a date with former head coach Blake Nill and his 6–2 Thunderbirds.
But the Dinos saw their banner season come to an end in front of 1,738 fans at McMahon Stadium as they suffered a 34–26 loss at the hands of UBC — losing in the Hardy Cup game for the second straight year.
The Dinos had their moments, but it was the accumulation of their own mistakes that ultimately led to their downfall.
“We battled hard all day and right to the end,” Dinos head coach Wayne Harris said. “But there were too many mistakes and too many penalties, and that was the difference in the end. Penalties get you out of your rhythm, and we haven’t lost the turnover battle all season until today.”
The Dinos’ penalty troubles were noticeable all night long. By the game’s end, the U of C had racked up 145 penalty yards on 17 infractions — doubling UBC’s total of 70 yards.
And after reigning as the most dominant offensive club in the CIS all season, the U of C’s offence seemed to stumble in their biggest game of the year. The Dinos were outscored in each of the first three quarters as they struggled to reach the end zone — even with their stars racking up their usual triple-digit yards.
Dinos running back Mercer Timmis and receiver Rashaun Simonise each finished the game with 111 yards, though the pair accounted for only one touchdown, scored by Timmis in the final quarter when the Thunderbirds already held a sizeable lead.
Star quarterback Andrew Buckley came up with a signature performance in the final game of his illustrious CIS career, throwing for 447 passing yards and one touchdown alongside zero interceptions. It was clearly a tough evening for Buckley, whose exceptional performance was not enough to propel his team back to Hardy Cup glory.
“Heartbroken — it’s hard to end a career like that,” Buckley said. “We just didn’t capitalize when we were in the red zone, and took too many penalties.”
That finishing ability proved to be the biggest difference between the two clubs. While the Dinos’ offence looked lacklustre throughout the game, the Thunderbirds managed to put points on the board at the tail end of every quarter, allowing them to hold a lead for nearly the entire contest.
With the loss, the Buckley era of Dinos football effectively comes to an end. The club now looks ahead to an offseason that will see them lose a total of seven fifth-year players — including star kicker Johnny Mark, who became the highest scorer in CIS history this season.
Regardless of their finish, Buckley and the Dinos can surely look back on this season with pride, as the club put forth one of the most dominant campaigns in Canada West history.
After captivating the city with a phenomenal season-long effort, and breaking numerous records along the way, the Dinos conclude 2015 likely just shy of where they had hoped, but still, undeniably, as one of the season’s greatest success stories.