Football: SFU easily handles UBC to kick off CIS season

Losing to SFU at football is becoming a bad habit for the UBC Thunderbirds.

In the first CIS football game of the year, 

SFU handily dropped their opening game of the 2009 season 26–7 to the Simon Fraser University Clan on Saturday in front of 1,100 fans at Thunderbird Stadium, marking the third consecutive game that UBC have lost to their cross-town rivals from Burnaby.

"We had our chances in the first half to execute some plays that were there, and we didn't; and the second half got away from us. But it's a long season," said head coach Ted Goveia after the game. "There were opportunities for us to hang in there and to take the lead, but we didn't do that."

The Thunderbirds, coming off a 2–6 season, were considered the underdogs heading into the game, as SFU started the season with the same core group that reached the Canada West Conference Finals last year. Nonetheless, UBC stifled SFU's offense for much of the first half, holding the ball for over 18 minutes the time of in the half, and took a 7–3 lead late in the second quarter after a 10-yard touchdown catch by second year receiver Jordan Grieve.

 It was the only time UBC would score in the game. As soon as the Thunderbirds took the lead, the Clan collectively picked up their game. In just 47 seconds, they completed a 59-yard drive that culminated with a 27-yard touchdown run by Gabriel Ephard to take a 10–7 lead at halftime.

 From there, the T-Birds were unable to pressure the Clan at all, unable to string together first downs. SFU continued to drive the ball regularly into UBC territory, getting field goals on three consecutive drives in the third and fourth quarter that put the game out of reach.

Dave Boyd, who led UBC in rushing with 100 yards on 11 caries, was frustrated at UBC's inability to convert on offense. “We had success moving the ball on the ground but it just wasn’t enough as we couldn’t get the points when we needed them,” he said. 

SFU head coach Dave Johnson, who was UBC's head coach in 1998, was happy with how his team started the season. "UBC played tough," he said. "The score, we leaned on them a little bit at the end. But I was so happy and impressed with our sideline. Some guys making big hits, everyone hustling, we encourage ourselves during times of adversity, and celebrate when good things happen. That's the culture of this place right now.”

Goveia looked to put the loss for the young UBC team in perspective. "It's early in the season," he said, adding, "I thought both teams played well, and sloppy at times, but that'll happen in the first game of the year. But we'll look at the tape [of the game] tomorrow and be better next time."

It might be worth posting the SFU Sports recap of Simon Fraser's season-opening 26-7 win over the UBC Thunderbirds. It's a good way to get an idea about the Clan's return ace, Jeff Thompson (six punt returns for 100 yards, plus a 34-yard kick return to set up SFU's first TD) and another American skill position guy, wideout Victor Marshall (51 yards on four receptions), who is from Mesa, Arizona.

Game Notes: UBC defensive back Tyler Codron, a Canada West all-star in 2008, injured his left knee early in the first quarter, and did not return. His status will be evaluated early next week... SFU had 312 total yards to UBC's 229, and had 18 first downs to UBC's 16...Quarterback Billy Greene finished the game with 14 pass completions in 23 attempts to 118 yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions...UBC's next game is on September 4 at Alberta.

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