The University of Calgary Dinos just weren’t themselves.
After a perfect 8-0 season and record-breaking year from quarterback Adam Sinagra, the Dinos were undone by turnovers in Saturday’s Hardy Cup – the Canada West conference championship – against the Saskatchewan Huskies.
The visitors at McMahon Stadium deserve credit for how they played in their 43-18 victory, to be sure, but the Dinos will be left wondering what might have been if they hadn’t thrown four interceptions and fumbled away the ball on another occasion.
That’s just not championship-winning football, and it was extremely uncharacteristic for the Dinos and Sinagra, who threw only five interceptions in the rest of the year combined.
Afterwards, the crestfallen quarterback put the loss on his own shoulders.
“I felt the ball was flying out of my hand, just stupid mistakes,” Sinagra said. “You can’t make those kinds of mistakes in the playoffs, you can’t turn the ball over and I turned the ball over way too many times and it lost us the game.”
It’s not fair to assign so much of the blame to Sinagra, who played such a huge part in getting this Dinos team to the conference championship.
Prior to the season, many were predicting 2018 would be a rebuilding year for the young Dinos team, but Sinagra set an all-time Canada West record for passing yards and led the team as it bulldozed through its competition.
On Saturday, though, he just didn’t have his best stuff.
He wasn’t alone, though.
The Dinos defence struggled to contain a surprisingly explosive Huskies offence that was powered by running back Tyler Chow.
Chow was seemingly unstoppable at times, running the ball 24 times for 228 yards and two touchdowns.
Huskies quarterback Kyle Siemens was on his game, too, completing 18-of-27 passes for 263 yards and a touchdown. When he looked to receiver Colton Klassen, in particular, the Dinos didn’t seem to have an answer, as the dynamic receiver caught seven balls for 137 yards.
There was, in other words, a whole lot more that went into the Dinos loss than Sinagra’s interceptions.
“He’s had a great, outstanding year,” said Dinos head coach Wayne Harris Jr. “There were a couple of drops, as well, and when we needed a stop from the defence in the third quarter they drove down the field on us.
“It’s a team game, and when you’re losing on two sides of the ball, you’re not going to win the game. Saskatchewan came in with a great gameplan and I’ve said that all week, they’re big and they’re physical and I think they’ve got a good shot next week of getting to the Vanier.”
While they likely won’t be able to see it now, Saturday’s loss doesn’t take away from the fact that there are likely some bright days ahead for the Dinos.
They are set to lose very few starters after the season, and with Sinagra back behind centre next season, a betting man would put his money on the Dinos playing in the Hardy Cup again next year.
As a program, that’s just sort of what the Dinos do.
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