LIGHTS OUTSHINE DINOS IN EXHIBITION TILT
MEDICINE HAT, Alta. – The Montana State University-Northern Lights used a 13-3 advantage in the second half to defeat the University of Calgary Dinos 30-19 in an exhibition contest Saturday at the Methanex Bowl in Medicine Hat, Alta., the first action for both teams in the 2009 season.
In a game that meant very different things to the two teams, both sides return home ready to start conference play next weekend with exactly what they came for. For the Lights, the game counted in their season record and likely boosted their chances of qualifying for the NAIA national playoffs, while the Dinos got the chance to play virtually their entire roster and evaluate young players before Friday’s season-opener against the Saskatchewan Huskies in Saskatoon (7 p.m., The FAN 960, fan960.com, Shaw TV).
The game was played with a hybrid of Canadian and American rules. On the 110-yard Canadian field, both teams played four-down football, and the two defences were forced to adjust to offensive schemes they rarely see. When Calgary was on offence there were 12 players per side on the field, with the American 11 players when the Lights had the ball.
“It was tough on the defence to play a totally different system, and we literally came in with five defensive calls,” said Calgary head coach Blake Nill. “We really just wanted to get the opportunity to see the kids play. I was happy with the way the offence moved at times, especially the first group, and now it’s about the real thing. We have to make sure that we’re prepared to play next week when the chips are down and everything counts.”
The teams went blow-for-blow in the first half, which ended in a 17-16 advantage for the American side after the Dinos missed a point-after attempt on a bobbled snap. An early 7-0 Calgary lead on a three-yard touchdown grab by Chris Dobko was matched less than a minute later on a two play, 62-yard drive by the Lights culminating in a five-yard touchdown run by quarterback Jeff Van Nest. Reigning Canada West MVP Matt Walter added a five-yard TD scamper for Calgary before 10 unanswered points from MSU-N. Calgary ended the half with a big 50-yard field goal by Aaron Ifield to pull the score within one.
A 43-yard Ifield field goal was the only scoring for Calgary in the second half as the Dinos substituted young players freely while the Lights stuck with their starting string. Van Nest connected with Kyle Kercher and Matt Stuart for touchdown passes in the second half.
Walter racked up 88 yards on eight carries in just one half of work for the Dinos, while quarterback Erik Glavic looked impressive in his debut with the Dinos completing five on nine passes for 72 yards in just over one quarter of action. Returning pivot Deke Junior took over for the second half, completing six of 12 passes for 64 yards.
Defensively, Calgary got a good look at several young players who stood out despite the 11-man formation. Freshman Matt Prete joined sophomores Wyatt Getty and Tye Noble in leading the Dinos in tackles on the afternoon.
“Prete looked very good, some of our young defensive linemen looked very good, and even our young receivers played well,” said Nill. “Overall it was what we wanted to do, and now it’s time to get ready for Saskatchewan.”
CLAN Football: SFU knocks off UBC 26-7 to open Canada West season
Vancouver, B.C. – The Simon Fraser University Clan proved Saturday afternoon that 2008 wasn’t an aberration, controlling the tempo in the 2009 Canada West regular season opener to defeat the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds 26-7 at UBC’s Thunderbird Stadium. The Clan’s special teams play was perhaps the story of the game; kicker Jason Cook (Vernon, B.C.) connected on all four of his field goal attempts, while return man Jeffery Thompson (St. Louis, MO) added 134 total return yards to put SFU in scoring position.
The Clan’s rushing attack also proved effective; as a team SFU averaged 6.6 yards per carry (152 total yards rushing), while quarterback Bernd Dittrich (Vienna, Austria) completed 13-of-23 attempts for 185 yards, and rushed for 36 yards on four carries. While at times the Thunderbirds showed flashes, offensive miscues in the first half proved to be their undoing, and finished the game with 229 total offensive yards to SFU’s 312.
The Clan (1-0) enter their bye-wee next weekend, and are back in action on September 11 (7 pm), when they host the Manitoba Bisons. The Thunderbirds (0-1) will have to rebound next weekend when they face Alberta in Edmonton on September 4 (7 pm).
“Both teams played well today, but as a team I thought everyone on our roster stepped up and made a contribution,” said SFU head coach Dave Johnson following the game. “When we needed it, we had a couple of big plays defensively that were very timely, and offensively I thought Brendan [Halverson] and Gabe [Ephard] gave us a nice one-two punch in the backfield.”
After a scoreless first quarter, Cook connected on his first field goal in SFU colours, a 20-yarder, to put the Clan up 3-0 only 30 seconds into the second. The Thunderbirds didn’t cross into SFU territory until the nine-minute mark of the second, putting together an eight-play 52-yard touchdown drive, capped by a ten-yard Billy Greene strike to Jordan Grieve on a post pattern to lead 7-3 with 1:35 left in the half.
The Clan however answered with a touchdown drive of their own before the end of the half. Following a 29-yard Thompson return to the SFU 52-yard line, Simon Fraser quarterback Dittrich completed two passes to get SFU to the UBC 27. From there, Gabe Ephard (North Vancouver, B.C.) took a handoff, made two cuts, and carried two Thunderbird tacklers across the goal line to give SFU a 10-7 advantage at halftime.
Simon Fraser extended their advantage on the opening drive of the third quarter, with Cook connecting on a 15-yard field goal following an eight-play 60-yard drive and added to their lead on their next drive with another Cook field goal, this time from 29-yards out to lead 16-7.
After another lengthy SFU drive to open the fourth quarter, Cook potted his fourth field goal of the afternoon, connecting on a 34-yard strike. Cook had missed on the play before from 39 yards out, however a UBC offside penalty allowed him another opportunity, putting Simon Fraser up 19-7.
On the ensuing drive, the Thunderbirds were able to get down to the Clan 35-yard line, but on third down Justin Capicciotti (Toronto, Ont.) sacked UBC quarterback Greene to end the threat.
Later in the fourth, the Clan finished off UBC, recovering a fumble by UBC punter Billy Pavlopoulos to regain possession on the Thunderbird 18-yard line. Brendan Halverson (Phoenix, AZ) punched in the final nail on a five-yard touchdown run to put SFU up 26-7.
Ephard (North Vancouver, B.C.) finished as the Clan’s leading rusher, generating 68 yards on eight carries. Victor Marshall (Seattle, WA) was Simon Fraser’s leading receiver, catching four passes for 51 yards. Defensively Marc DesLauriers (Surrey, B.C.) finished with a team high six tackles, while Capicciotti added 1.5 sacks.
For the Thunderbirds, Greene ended the day 14-for-23 for 118 yards and one touchdown, while Dave Boyd reached the 100-yard mark with 11 carries for 100 yards on the ground. Alex Babalos was UBC’s leading tackler with seven. Neither team registered a turnover (fumble or interception).
“It was important for our team to come out and play well, we’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” said Thompson. “I just wanted to go out and do my thing, after coming from St. Louis and redshirting last year, I wanted to make the most of any playing time I got.”
Games notes: Starting SFU defensive tackle John Reeves (knee), linebacker Chris Folk (knee), halfback Aeron Kawakami (hand) and receiver Spencer Watt (arm) all missed Saturday’s game, but all are expected to be in the lineup against Manitoba (September 11).
SHERBROOKE, QUE. _ Matt Falvo kicked the winning 24-yard field goal with 2.9 seconds left Saturday afternoon for a drizzly 18-16 Gee-Gees football pre-season win at Sherbrooke.
The Gee-Gees erased a 16-15 deficit under overcast skies with intermittent rain and cool temperatures to win its lone pre-season match behind the second-year kicker, a native of Welland, Ont., who finished three-for three with field goals in the first (27), second (21) and fourth (24) quarters.
The Gee-Gees scored 12 points and its lone touchdown in the second quarter after Ottawa native rookie RB Brendan Gillanders converted a four-play, 27-yard drive with a five-yard scoring rush.
Third-year new Gee-Gees starting quarterback Brad Sinopoli was 2-8 for 18 yards over one quarter and two drives into the second quarter.
“It was good change-up from practising,” said Sinopoli. “It feels after just week in training camp like we’re a step ahead of where we should be.”
Rookie Gee-Gees defensive tackle Brent Washburn of Windsor recorded his first CIS sack in the first series of the third quarter,
“Great feeling,” said Washburn, 18.
The Gee-Gees resume two-a-day training camp practice Monday with on-field sessions at 10:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at Matt Anthony Field.
uOttawa hosts defending OUA champion Western Ontario to open the 2009 regular season Sunday, September 6, 5:00 p.m. at Frank Clair Stadium.
HUSKIES DEFEAT ALBERTA IN NON-CONFERENCE CONTEST
University of Saskatchewan running back Mark Klause scored a four-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to help solidify a 26-21 non-conference win over the University of Alberta Golden Bears Friday night in Saskatoon’s Griffiths Stadium.
The Huskies dominated the first half leading 16-0 into half time. Saskatchewan opened the scoring with 3:42 left in the first quarter on an eight-yard run by fifth-year running back Tyler O’Gorman and added to their score 7:46 into the second quarter when Grant Shaw hit a 29-yard field goal to make the game 9-0. The Huskies added seven more points when Braeden George caught a 24-yard pass from quarterback Trevor Barss with 56 seconds left in the half.
Alberta made headway in the third quarter scoring 12 unanswered points starting with a safety given up by Saskatchewan, a Shayne Samoli three-yard rushing touchdown and a 37-yard field goal by All-Canadian Hugh O’Neill. Up by just four points with 4:13 left in the third, Shaw hit a 42-yard field goal to extend the Huskies lead to seven. But Alberta answered back three minutes later with a 16-yard O’Neill field goal to end the third quarter.
Klause’s touchdown at 13:24 in the fourth extended the lead to 26-15, forcing Alberta to score twice for the victory. The Golden Bears came close adding a Jess Valleau 30-yard touchdown with no time left on the clock.
Huskie quarterbacks Laurence Nixon and Trevor Barss combined to complete 22-of-34 passes for 322 yards and two touchdowns. Rory Kolhert made eight receptions for 147 yards including a 56-yard catch to lead the Huskies. Julian Marchand and Quade Armstrong split duty for the Bears completing 24 of 35 passes for 391 yards with two interceptions and one touchdown. Ryan Meraw and Valleau each had 104 receiving yards for Alberta.
Earlier in the day, the Golden Bear and Huskie show teams faced off in a controlled scrimmage. The teams played two 15-minute quarters. Alberta scored a touchdown with 52 seconds left in the scrimmage to win 10-0.
The Huskies will open the 2009 Canada West football season against the reigning Hardy Cup champion University of Calgary Dinos next week for the second year in a row. Game time is 7 p.m. on September 4 at Griffiths Stadium.