Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Untamed Colts crush Rifles

First-place Calgary goes to 6-0, 0-6 'Peg will miss PFC playoffs

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A Calgary stampede crushed the Winnipeg Rifles' playoff hopes Sunday at Canad Inns Stadium.

The Prairie Football Conference's top team, Cowtown's 6-0 Colts scored nine touchdowns en route to a 63-22 crushing of the Rifles before a crowd of about 200.

The 0-6 Rifles have been eliminated from playoff contention with two games remaining. The Rifles will host the Regina Thunder on Sept. 30 and then finish the season on Oct. 7 in Edmonton against the Huskies.

Calgary scored four touchdowns off turnovers, making the Rifles pay a steep price for their mistakes.

"If we can cut out the mistakes we'll definitely be a better team coming in next week against Regina," said Rifles receiver Brett Carter, 20, who scored two of Winnipeg's three touchdowns with catches of 12 and six yards. Martin Hovi scored Winnipeg's first major on a one-yard run. "Play for pride and play for next year. Pretty much rebuilding now."

Rifles quarterbacks John Kiesman, Tyler Vieira and Lyle Buckland were intercepted collectively four times and the Rifles fumbled once.

"We used three quarterbacks today and those reps at the end for Lyle Buckland were pure gold for us. I don't make it an excuse, but every one of these things was a learning opportunity for a young football team," said Rifles head coach Greg Graceffo. "We'll learn from this. We won't forget this."

To Winnipeg's credit, the Rifles recovered two Calgary fumbles and converted both into touchdowns -- Hovi's rushing TD and Carter's 12-yard catch from Vieira -- to lead 15-14 in the second quarter before the Rifles shot themselves in the foot.

Colts kicker Andrew Fabian booted a 30-yard field goal that was wiped off the board by a pair of Winnipeg penalties -- too many men and roughing the kicker -- and Calgary got the ball back. On the next play Chucks Okafor rambled 13 yards into the end zone and, with Fabian's conversion, Calgary led 21-15 at the half. The floodgates opened as the Colts scored six more majors after that.

Calgary touchdowns came from Rodreke Joseph (catches of 10, 6 and 64 yards), Okafor (runs of 14, 13 and 3 yards), Jimmy Ralph (23-yard catch), backup quarterback Jeremy Long (one-yard run) and defensive back Patrick MacDonald (58-yard interception return).

Graceffo said he felt "the momentum shift" of the game was early in the fourth quarter when the Colts scored touchdowns on consecutive Rifles' turnovers -- one off a fumble on a return of a missed Colts' field goal and an interception return TD -- which gave Calgary a 42-15 lead.

"You leave an offence like that on such a short field, you're going to pay for it. We're the kind of football team that can't afford to make any mistakes in order to win," Graceffo said. "We continually find ways to get in the way of ourselves. It's frustrating for the players and the coaches."

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 24, 2012 C3

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