In keeping with the theme of last-minute school supply shopping, you could say that the offensive line that the Simon Fraser Clan debuted Saturday night in Phoenix was being held together by paper clips and scotch tape.
Except when Clan head coach Kelly Bates marched out two pure freshmen and two converted defensive linemen, the makeshift group showed enough skill and moxy to suggest they are glue guys of the future.
All of that and a benchmark performance from Clan quarterback Miles Richardson put SFU right in the thick of taking a season-opening victory Saturday at Arizona Christian.
In the end, however, the host Firestorm held off a late Clan charge to win the non-conference opener for both teams 34-28.
“I am so proud of that group and how they battled tonight,” Bates said of redshirt sophomore James Pak and Mission Roadrunners redshirt freshman Devin Pott, whom he borrowed from the defensive line, and paired with freshmen Paul Ursu and Notre Dame Jugglers’ grad Lorenzo Delgiglio. “It shows great promise for the future.”
Richardson’s 19-yard completion to receiver Gavin Cobb on third-and-17 was the big play on a fourth-quarter scoring drive, capped when the pivot called his own number on a 10-yard TD scamper with 7:13 remaining.
That pulled SFU to within 34-28, but on a subsequent drive to win the game, the Clan could get no closer than the Arizona Christian 33-yard line.
That 11-play drive saw Simon Fraser penalized for 12 men on the field, and Richardson taking a key sack that forced a driving-killing fourth-and-21 pass attempt.
Nonetheless, Richardson was 28-of-55 for 434 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He also rushed for two scores.
“Miles had his best game as our starting quarterback,” said Bates of the former Eastern Washington back-up who fired scoring strikes of 44 yards to Nathanael Durkan and eight yards to running back Jalen Jana.
“He got the ball out of his hands quickly, made good decisions and stepped up well in the pocket. He gave us a chance to win and I was proud of him tonight.”
Richardson’s five-yard TD rush with 1:34 left in the opening quarter pulled the Clan to within 14-7.
Cobb and Durkan each caught eight passes in the loss, Cobb for 183 yards and Durkan for 115. Jana managed 107 yards catching and rushing.
The Clan defence also came up big, stopping Arizona Christian with big plays in both the second and fourth quarters of play.
Cornerbacks Adam Turrin and Jaryn Bailey were tested often and played well.
Jordan Leech, a redshirt senior making his debut at middle linebacker, led the Clan with nine tackles.
SFU plays its home opener this Saturday as they host Texas A&M Kingsville at Terry Fox Field.
If you’re reading this story on any other website other than one belonging to a university athletic department, it has been taken without appropriate permission. In these challenging times, true journalism will survive only through your dedicated support and loyalty. VarsityLetters.ca and all of its exclusive content has been created to serve B.C.’s high school and university sports community with hard work, integrity and respect. Feel free to drop us a line any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.