In a single play, Rashaun Simonise hit the high point of his rookie football season with the University of Calgary Dinos. Soon after, his season was over.
Simonise, a freshman receiver named the 2013 Canada West rookie of the year, and the Dinos were in Quebec City Nov. 23 to compete for the Vanier Cup against the dominant Rouge et Or of Université Laval.
Despite freezing temperatures and blowing snow, 18,543 faithful crammed into the 12,000-seat Telus Stadium to show their support for the hosts and defending Canadian Interuniversity Sport champions.
“That was probably the most hostile environment I’ve ever been in,” said Simonise, a 2013 Vancouver College graduate.
Laval won 25-14, earning its third Vanier Cup in four years and its eighth since the well-funded program launched in 1996.
The Dinos trailed 9-0 in the third quarter when they took a five-yard penalty and then on the rush were pushed back for a loss of four yards. Calgary was at second and 19 when quarterback Andrew Buckley went deep and found Simonise on the sideline for a 42-yard pass. The catch quieted the raucous crowed, if only briefly.
“I felt like it was very important, and my coach told me early that we were going to take a shot deep,” Simonise said Monday from Calgary. The Dinos returned to Alberta late Sunday night, and Simonise was at an economics class by 9 a.m. the next morning.
“I had no choice but to catch it. Buckley made an awesome pass. It’s pretty much a blur to me — right off the start, I just gave it all I could because I knew we had to go deep,” he said.
The Dinos drove to Laval’s six-yard line and on the touchdown run, Simonise threw a block for Jake Harty and damaged the meniscus in his right knee. He left the game and didn’t return.
“I was pretty upset. I wanted to be able to go back,” he said.
“I was blocking and took one step back and I guess I had bad weight on the step and it was a tear. It’s not that serious. I should be about six weeks.”
Simonise expects to run track once the indoor season begins in January. The six-foot-five, 190-pound receiver was nominated for the Peter Gorman Trophy as the rookie of the year for a combined 593 yards in the air plus two touchdowns. On kick and punt returns, he stacked up 578 yards and one 80-yard touchdown.