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Dinos defeat Bisons for a spot in Hardy Cup this weekend

By David Song, November 9 2018 —

After an undefeated regular season, the Dinos football team rolled into McMahon Stadium on Nov. 3 to face the 35 Manitoba Bisons in the Canada West Semi-Final. Despite a lopsided 3713 victory for the Dinos, the underdog Bisons proved to be quite a challenge in the first half.

The Bisons stymied the Dinos’ high-powered offence, forcing three consecutive two-and-outs to start the game and taking a 30 lead after the first quarter. The Dinos tied the game early in the second quarter on a 44-yard Niko DiFonte field goal, but both defences continued to steal the show well into the first half.

“When the offence needs us to pick them up, we’re going to do that, and when we need the offence to pick us up, they’re going to do that too, so we have a lot of confidence in each group,” said fifth-year linebacker Boston Rowe, who played a vital role in keeping the game close alongside his defensive-line comrades.

Ultimately, the Dinos’ first touchdown would come from special teams with 5:29 to play in the second. After blocking a punt, sophomore receiver Alex Basilis recovered the loose ball in the end zone to put the home team up 103.

“Especially in the playoffs, if your offence is struggling or whatever the case is, special teams really has the ability to swing the momentum in either direction,” Basilis said of his game-changing play. “Our coach puts us in the position to be successful, and I’m glad that we could swing it in our favour.”  

Less than two minutes after Basilis’s score, the Bisons retaliated as Jamie Ybarra found Dylan Schrot on a 38-yard touchdown pass to tie the game 1010. However, the Dinos offence would finally break out in the dying minute of the half. Quarterback Adam Sinagra finished an impressive four-play, 92-yard drive with a 42-yard touchdown to rookie receiver Jalen Philpot as the Dinos took a 1710 lead into halftime.

“I was just running my route and I’d seen one of the safeties come down on my brother, Tyson, so I was screaming Adam’s name. I was wide open,” Philpot said. “That was really big for us to get the momentum going.”

“We’re a team full of leaders, so everybody was making sure we were staying positive,” said fifth-year receiver Hunter Karl. “Our defence did a fantastic job, so it was a lot easier to look over and see them dominating out there, knowing that we just need to pick it up and do our part.”

Echoing head coach Wayne Harris’s pre-game speech to “outwork Manitoba,” the Dinos took control of the game in the second half. They opened the third quarter with a safety, sacking the Bisons quarterback in the end zone to score two more points. At 10:14, DiFonte extended the lead to 2210 with a 46-yard field goal, and at 8:09, Karl found the end zone from 36 yards out after breaking a tackle. The last gasp on offence for the Bisons came at 2:06 in the third with a 30-yard field goal. The Dinos put an exclamation mark on their victory at 8:59 of the fourth quarter with a 73-yard touchdown catch by rookie Tyson Philpot.

Harris praised his squad’s resilience and ability to rise to the occasion.

“We know Manitoba’s a very good football team,” he said. “They’re well-coached. They come in prepared. Defence kept us in there. Offence struggled a little bit in the beginning, and then they started to get things rolling.”

On Nov. 10, the Dinos will host their 10th Hardy Cup in 11 years as they take on the Saskatchewan Huskies for the Canada West title. After vanquishing the UBC Thunderbirds in a dramatic 3128 overtime win, the Huskies should prove to be a steep challenge — but one that the Dinos will be prepared for.

“The preparation doesn’t change,” Harris explained. “We try to do it the same way each week, and I think that keeps us pretty steadfast and steady out on the field.”

“It’s going to be a really good game. They’re going to bring out a very tough effort,” Karl said, regarding the Huskies. “It’s going to be a slugfest and that’s what we’re excited for.”

The Hardy Cup kicks off Saturday, Nov. 10 at McMahon Stadium at 1 p.m. Tickets are $5 for students and can be purchased on the Dinos website.


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