It was almost something out of a football drama — a scrappy team from the Prairies winning the big game in the dying seconds.
For the U of M Bisons football team, there was no such happy ending. The herd failed to topple the University of Calgary Dinos Saturday in the opening round of the Hardy Cup playoffs, losing 47-46.
Manitoba battled back from a 33-19 third-quarter deficit, with a Trysten Dyce touchdown as time expired getting the team within a point of tying the game. Bisons head coach Brian Dobie went for the win, but Des Catellier and the rest of the Bisons could not get it done.
After a relatively quiet first quarter, the game broke open in the second. Matt Riley picked up his second field goal of the contest to give the herd a 6-1 lead early in the quarter, but Calgary responded with the game’s first touchdown.
Jalen Philpot snagged a nine-yard pass from Dinos quarterback Adam Sinagra for an 8-6 Dinos lead.
Victor St. Pierre-Laviolette rumbled into the end zone just over two minutes later to get Manitoba back ahead, but Hunter Karl scored a touchdown of his own and Niko DiFonte knocked down a 28-yard field goal to give Calgary a lead of 18-13 at halftime.
In the third, Riley again opened a quarter with a successful field goal attempt before Dallas Boath spoiled the fun and built a mountain for Manitoba to climb. The fifth-year receiver brought down a pair of passes from Sinagra to give the Dinos a 33-16 lead at the end of the third quarter.
Then the fourth quarter happened, and it looked like a sports movie in the making.
Riley knocked down a 38-yard field goal, followed by Shae Weekes and Philpot trading 97-yard punt returns for a 40-26 Dinos lead with less than three minutes gone in the fourth quarter.
Next it was Catellier’s turn to work some magic.
Manitoba battled all the way to the Dinos goal line with just over seven minutes to go in the game. The two sides lined up, the ball was snapped and Catellier took off with a Dinos defender trailing.
The Bisons quarterback beat his man, looked up and spotted Macho Bockru faking out a defender to make some room. Catellier fired a pass and Bockru made the catch, drawing the herd close at 40-33.
Then Manitoba tied it. At the Calgary 12-yard line, Catellier took to snap and found Abdul-Karim Gassama streaking across the field. Gassama had nothing but open field ahead, cruising into the end zone for the touchdown and a 40-40 tied game.
Sinagra, though, took the ball to the house himself for a late 47-40 Dinos lead, setting Manitoba up for a storybook ending.
At the Dinos 50-yard line, with just seconds on the clock, Catellier took the snap, stepped back and fired a long bomb downfield. The Dinos defence drew into a crowd to intercept, but batted the ball right to the hands of Dyce.
The defenders scrambled to recover, falling over each other, but could not get to Dyce streaking into the end zone to make it 47-46.
Manitoba lined up for a two-point convert to win the game, but the fantasy turned into a horror story. The ball was snapped to Catellier, he looked up and threw to Dyce again, but this time he could not make the catch as Calgary recovered to end the game.
The 47-46 loss brings the 2019 Bisons football season to a close. The Dinos move on to face the University of Saskatchewan Huskies for the Hardy Cup, while the Bisons come home empty-handed.