Vancouver Sun

Di­nos lower the boom on T-Birds

With slug­gish of­fence, penalty-prone team couldn’t match Cal­gary’s drive

- HOWARD TSUMURA HT­sumura@post­media.com

You know it’s not your night when the two big­gest plays that you man­age to muster are matched by the op­po­si­tion on their next snap of the ball.

That was the stone-cold re­al­ity which stepped up and slapped the UBC Thun­der­birds square across their col­lec­tive hel­mets on Fri­day night in a Canada West su­per­show­down against the host Cal­gary Di­nos.

Slug­gish on of­fence from the out­set, never fully in sync and dogged by penal­ties the en­tire evening, the No. 2-ranked, de­fend­ing Vanier Cup cham­pion Birds (1-1) fell 35-8 at McMa­hon Sta­dium to the No. 3-ranked Di­nos (2-0) in a re­match of last sea­son’s Hardy Cup con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship fi­nal won by UBC on its way to a na­tional ti­tle.

Cal­gary, de­ter­mined to make a bold state­ment, kept start­ing quar­ter­back Jimmy Un­der­dahl in to di­rect a touch­down drive in the fi­nal six sec­onds of play, and the Di­nos’ de­fence quite stun­ningly held UBC to mi­nus-one yard of to­tal of­fence in the fourth quar­ter.

“Go­ing in, we thought that if we could hold Cal­gary to 28 points, that we would win the game,” said UBC head coach Blake Nill of the team he coached for nine sea­sons be­fore his de­fec­tion to Point Grey in 2015. “The de­fen­sive kids gut­ted it out, but we just didn’t get it done on of­fence.”

Af­ter Cal­gary built a 14-1 half­time lead, UBC fi­nally looked to have dis­cov­ered its of­fen­sive stride when quar­ter­back Michael O’Con­nor went six-for-six on a 46yard scor­ing drive capped by a two­yard touch­down pass to re­ceiver Trivel Pinto.

The Di­nos may have been feel­ing the heat with their lead cut to 14-8, but on their very next touch Cal­gary’s Den­zel Radford re­turned the kick­off 97 yards to the UBC six­yard line. Quentin Chown rushed into the end zone on the next play and Cal­gary led 21-8.

UBC con­tin­ued to show its re­silience, and as the Di­nos’ drove to­ward an­other touch­down, free safety Stavros Kat­san­to­nis made an end zone in­ter­cep­tion, his se­cond pick in two games, re­turn­ing the ball to his 11-yard line.

How­ever, af­ter be­ing af­forded a se­cond chance to pull within one score, O’Con­nor’s first pass from scrim­mage was picked off by Adam Lau­rensse, which led to a field goal and a 24-8 Di­nos lead.

“They had a bad taste af­ter we beat them in the Hardy Cup and they wanted to make a state­ment and they did,” said Kat­san­to­nis. “But this is only the se­cond game of the sea­son.”

Nill said the loss im­me­di­ately be­comes a teach­ing tool, and if this one doesn’t get his team’s at­ten­tion, noth­ing will.

“I will use it for what I can,” said Nill.

“That’s for sure. The team we played tonight was fully com­mit­ted to kick­ing our ass, and we didn’t re­spond. That’s how I’ll use this.”

UBC will close out its eight-game con­fer­ence slate Oct. 29 by play­ing host to Cal­gary at Thun­der­bird Sta­dium. But next up, the Birds will play in front of what will likely be a sell­out house in its home­com­ing game, Sept. 17 against Regina.

On Fri­day, UBC was out-rushed 191 yards to 61, while the Di­nos’ de­fence lim­ited O’Con­nor to 175 yards on 23-of-41 at­tempts.

“We knew go­ing in it was about giv­ing the de­fence time to jell,” said Nill. “And that’s what it still has to be. But for sure we need a quicker turn­around from the of­fence.”

It only gets tougher be­cause the T-Birds may have lost re­ceiver Alex Mor­ri­son for an ex­tended pe­riod, per­haps to a frac­tured arm. And with depth in the de­fen­sive sec­ondary a ques­tion, Nill was forced to dou­ble top re­ceiver Pinto at cor­ner­back for much of the se­cond half.

 ?? RICH LAM/ UBC ATH­LET­ICS ?? UBC Thun­der­bird Tyler Turner makes a catch and is wrapped up by the Univer­sity of Cal­gary Di­nos’ Hunter Turn­bull dur­ing CIS Canada West foot­ball ac­tion Fri­day at McMa­hon Sta­dium in Cal­gary.
RICH LAM/ UBC ATH­LET­ICS UBC Thun­der­bird Tyler Turner makes a catch and is wrapped up by the Univer­sity of Cal­gary Di­nos’ Hunter Turn­bull dur­ing CIS Canada West foot­ball ac­tion Fri­day at McMa­hon Sta­dium in Cal­gary.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada