The longest winless streak in University of Alberta Golden Bears football history continues – and in heartbreaking fashion.
After a hectic, back-and-forth battle in their home opener at Foote Field on Saturday against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, the Bears would opt for a two-point conversion in overtime only to have the game-winning pass knocked down and lose 42-41, effectively extending their winless streak to 26 straight games.
“Five yards to win a game, I’ll take that any day,” said Golden Bears head coach Chris Morris, when asked about the decision to go for the game-winning two-point conversion. “They get a hand on the ball, if they don’t get a hand on the ball we score. We have to take our chances when we get them.”
Heading into Saturday, the Golden Bears were riding a painful 25-game losing streak, including three 0-8 seasons, and coming off a 71-3 drubbing at the hands of their provincial rivals, the University of Calgary Dinos in their season opener last week in Calgary.
“I loved the way our guys fought, we really bounced back from last week against a very, very good team. I couldn’t be more proud of the guys,” said Morris. “We’re a scratch and bite group. We’re not there yet but we’re getting better every week and these kids understand that. These guys understand it’s a process here and that’s what it’s all about.”
The Bears passing game was firing on all cylinders, led by fifth-year quarterback, Curtis Dell, who threw for 413 yards and two touchdowns.
“For him to come back and have that kind of performance was remarkable – it’s a testament to his character and a testament to the kind of kid he is,” said Morris.
For Dell, the decision to go for the overtime two-point conversion was a no-brainer.
“We have 100 per cent faith in our coach and I know he has faith in us and that’s why we did it. Second Guessing it? Never. I would never. That’s the right call and they just made a play,” said Dell.
Bears wide receiver Adam Zajdel, hauled in seven catches for 151 yards and a touchdown, and second-year wide receiver Jimmy Ralph hauled in an additional seven catches for 145 yards and a touchdown.
The loss mirrors the Bears’ home opener last season against the UBC Thunderbirds, when they let an early 29-2 first half lead slip away to eventually lose 39-36 in overtime.
Next up, the Bears host the University of Regina Rams on Sept. 20, at Foote Field.