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Undefeated Dinos down Huskies in playoff opener

By Sonny Sachdeva, November 8, 2015 —

After a banner season that saw the Dinos football team go 8–0, breaking a number of offensive records along the way, expectations were understandably high as they headed into their first playoff match.

Lining up against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies in front of 1,565 fans at McMahon Stadium on Nov. 7, that pressure seemed to affect the Dinos early on. The University of Calgary club stumbled through a first quarter that saw them go scoreless while giving up eight points to their opponents.

By halftime, the Dinos trailed 16–8, with their usually potent offence held in check.

But the U of C broke through in the third. After the two teams traded field goals, Dinos quarterback Andrew Buckley hit receiver Brett Blaszko for a 17-yard touchdown to even up the contest.

The Dinos added two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter — courtesy of Mercer Timmis and Jimmy Underdahl — alongside a 40-yard field goal from Johnny Mark to finally overtake the U of S and pull out a close victory.

Philip Stapor

Philip Stapor

Though his club dominated during the regular season and won their first playoff game against the U of S, Dinos head coach Wayne Harris believes there is still room for improvement.

“You can’t expect the kinds of outcomes that we’ve had so much this season. It’s just not realistic,” said Harris. “We still had more than 500 yards offence, which is great production, but we had a few breakdowns, a couple of penalties that cost us — things that we need to clean up.”

Harris noted that a tough game like this one could be a crucial building block for his team after rolling through the regular season uncontested.

“They used their weapons effectively and it was a good challenge for our team,” said Harris. “You need those challenges if you want to go on in the playoffs.”

The Dinos certainly lived up to the challenge this time around. Though their offence got off to a slow start, the team’s top contributors finished the game with their usual impressive stat lines.

Buckley led the way with 367 passing yards and one touchdown, completing 33 of his 40 pass attempts to break yet another U of C record. Timmis rushed for two touchdowns and 154 rushing yards — more than all of the Huskies’ rushers combined. Receivers Blaszko and Rashaun Simonise each racked up triple-digit yards themselves, finishing with 115 and 116 respectively.

The victory moves the Dinos’ 2015 record to 9–0 and sets the club up for a highly anticipated Canada West championship match against the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds — led by former Dinos coach Blake Nill.

In the rival teams’ only meeting of the year — in the season’s opening week — the U of C came away victorious, finishing with a 49–16 win that set their dominant season in motion.

But the importance of taking down the Thunderbirds goes beyond a regular season rematch or the return of their former coach. The Dinos reigned as the Canada West champions for six straight seasons from 2008–13, before having that streak snapped last year by the University of Manitoba Bisons.

After finishing the 2015 campaign as the undisputed number-one team in the country, the Dinos are undoubtedly hungry for the opportunity to reclaim that title, and perhaps even claw their way back into the Vanier Cup.

It all starts with a Hardy Cup showdown against UBC, which kicks off at McMahon Stadium at 12 p.m. on Nov. 14.

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