The U of M football season wrapped up Saturday in Calgary, when the Bisons suffered a 37-13 loss to the still-undefeated University of Calgary Dinos in the Hardy Cup semifinals.
Manitoba jumped ahead early but never led again as Calgary took over heading into the second half en route to the decisive win.
Bisons quarterback Des Catellier was pulled from the game late in the first half after aggravating an injury suffered on Oct. 20, but returned in the third quarter to try and hold together a game rapidly spiraling out of control.
Brad Mikoluff got the game going for Manitoba with a 24-yard field goal in the first quarter to give his side a 3-0 lead. Calgary kicker Niko DiFonte responded early in the second quarter with a 44-yarder to tie things up, 3-3.
Calgary got its first lead of the contest with 5:29 remaining in the second quarter. Dinos receiver Alex Basilis recovered a blocked Bisons punt in the endzone to make it 10-3 for Calgary.
Manitoba’s backup quarterback Jamie Ybarra came into the game on the herd’s next possession and made an immediate impact. He found Dylan Schrot with a 38-yard pass for the touchdown and 10-10 score.
The Dinos added a Jalen Philpot touchdown with 36 seconds left to end the half up 17-10.
From there, it all went downhill for the Bisons.
Calgary forced a safety, DiFonte had another 40-plus yard field-goal and Adam Sinagra found Hunter Karl with a 36-yard bomb for a 29-10 Dinos lead in the third quarter.
Mikoluff nabbed his second field-goal of the game on a 30-yard kick to make it 29-13 in the third quarter, but by then it was almost all over.
Tyson Philpot pulled down a monster 73-yard Sinagra pass for the score, while DiFonte picked up the single to make it 37-13 and ice the Dinos win.
Catellier went 16-for-30 on the day, passing for 153 yards, while his backup went 3-for-4 and threw for a touchdown. Schrot led the team in receiving yards with 58, picking up a touchdown on six receptions.
The loss brought an up-and-down season for the herd to a close. The team looked destined for good things after a narrow 48-46 loss to the University of Saskatchewan Huskies on Sep. 7 and back-to-back wins over the University of Alberta Golden Bears on Sep. 15 and 21.
But shoddy team defence and the increased physical toll it placed on the club’s quarterback spelled the end for the herd. The club was outscored 99-54 following the conference bye and limped into the playoffs — quite literally for Catellier — with a 3-5 record.
The herd will be missing multiple key contributors next season, with veterans Schrot, Mikoluff, Shai Ross, Houston Rennie and Jayden McKoy all graduating out of the program. However, the team’s quarterback will return, alongside standout second-year Victor St. Pierre-Laviolette and star running back Jamel Lyles.