SFU started their season with a loss against the Menlo College Oaks, a non-conference rival of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), on September 6.
The game started promisingly for the Clan, as 2:27 into the first quarter, linebacker Eric Murphy intercepted a pass from Menlo College quarterback Wade Hawkins, who later left the game in the first half due to injury to be replaced by backup Nate Dodson.
SFU pounced on this opportunity: Kyle Kawamoto caught a 29-yard pass from quarterback Ryan Stanford, who eventually threw 260 yards, to open up the scoring with a touchdown.
This fast-paced offence seemed as though it could be the story of the game for the Clan, as Mitchell Barnett intercepted the ball for them once again. During this drive, however, flaws started to appear in their game plan, as they were unable convert for a touchdown, and missed a 33-yard field goal attempt.
In the entire first quarter, SFU had just one first down, and their opponents held onto the ball for 42 seconds longer than they did. The only other scoring in the first quarter was a Menlo College field goal, which, to be fair, was miraculous considering the yards given up by SFU’s defence, to bring the score to 7-3.
It was during the second quarter that the Oaks started to take advantage of the Clan’s sloppy play. They scored two touchdowns building a sizable lead, including one scored off of a 72-yard pass received by running back DJ Jones, who lit up the Clan on more than a few plays, highlighting the holes in SFU’s defensive game.
However, the Clan would enter halftime only down by three as they scored a touchdown with just 24 seconds left in the quarter.
SFU appeared to turn a new page in the second half and seemed recharged, with a more confident looking team. Matt Isherwood intercepted the ball with 12:16 left in the quarter, which led to a touchdown pass to Lemar Durant, bringing the score to 21-17.
The SFU defence also started strong, not allowing the Oaks to advance, and sacking the quarterback when they went for it on a desperate fourth down play.
Sloppy play would return once again, however, with SFU allowing Menlo College to make a 78-yard pass for a touchdown, reclaiming the lead 24-21.
Following this, the Clan fumbled the ball at kickoff, only to have Isherwood recover it the very next play, making back-to-back interceptions for him.
SFU would score a field goal 3:45 into the fourth quarter, tying up the game, although only after many missed opportunities.
The rest of the quarter would remain silent until Jones scored another touchdown for Menlo College claiming the lead for the last time, making the score 31-24.
SFU did not go down without a fight, however, as they tried to take advantage of an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Jones’ touchdown celebration, giving them them 15 yards on the kickoff. On a fourth down attempt with 27.1 seconds left, it briefly looked as though the Clan had completed a pass for a first down at the goal line. However, they were just out of bounds, and thus lost the game.
The running theme of the game was inconsistency, with players such as Isherwood putting up excellent performances with back-to-back interceptions, while other players such as Chris Tolbert gave up back-to-back fumbles.
“We need to learn to finish things. Our players need to understand that we need to protect the football a little bit better,” said head coach Jacques Chapdelaine. “Offensively we can’t turn the ball over.
“If we shoot ourselves in the foot a little, we’re going to struggle uphill, whereas if we can eliminate those mistakes we’ll put ourselves in a better position.”