Connor Hood - Golden Bears and Pandas Athletics
EDMONTON - The University of Alberta Golden Bears football team couldn't contain Calgary Dinos quarterback Adam Sinagra on Friday night, as the third-year pivot led the Dinos to a season-opening 55-26 win over the Bears at Foote Field.
Sinagra was nearly perfect on Friday, finishing 27-33 with 426 yards passing and four touchdowns. Dallas Boath was on the receiving end of 142 of those yards, while Hunter Karl added 117, and Michael Klukas tallied 92.
Alberta was led by fifth-year running back Ed Ilnicki, who finished with 97 yards on just eight carries, reaching the end-zone twice, including an 83-yard scamper in the third quarter. Starting quarterback Brad Baker finished with 196 yards through the air, completing 14 of his 31 passes on Friday night.
First-year receiver Nathan Rowe made an immediate impact in his Golden Bears debut, hauling in seven catches for 208 yards, including a 109-yard touchdown bomb late in the fourth quarter. The reception not only broke the Golden Bears program record for longest reception, but also tied the Canada West and U SPORTS record for longest-ever catch.
Neither team found their offensive rhythm in the first quarter, with the Alberta rivals exchanging three-and-outs to open the game. Calgary found the end-zone first, as a 12-yard TD pass from Sinagra capped off a five-play, 55-yard drive.
It took the Bears just four minutes to respond, as Ilnicki finished off an impressive 82-yard drive with a one yard TD plunge.
The second quarter, however, was completely dominated by the Dinos. Calgary tacked on another 23 points, taking a 31-7 lead into the half. Sinagra added another 206 yards in the second, highlighted by a 40-yard TD pass to Boath.
If the game wasn't out of reach to start the third quarter, it was three minutes in. Calgary, who deferred the kickoff to the second half, scored on their first drive, as Karl was on the receiving end of another long Sinagra TD pass.
Ilnicki - who had been held in check to that point - finally broke free midway through the third, dashing 83 yards for his second score of the game. The explosive scoring play cut the Dinos lead to 38-14 just six minutes into the second half.
Ilnicki's mad-dash, however, wasn't enough to keep the Bears in the game, as Sinagra's fourth TD pass late in the third sealed the Calgary win.
Third-year quarterback Ben Kopczynski came in for the Bears in the fourth quarter, immediately finding chemistry with Rowe, hooking up for the record-breaking reception. The catch was also Rowe's second of more than 50 yards, catching a 55-yard bomb from Baker earlier in the game.
The Golden Bears (0-1) will now head on the road for the first time this season, as the visit the 1-0 Saskatchewan Huskies next Friday in Saskatoon. Calgary, meanwhile, will return home for a tilt against the also undefeated Regina Rams. Both games will be streamed live on Canada West TV.