By David Song, November 14 2018 —
Despite a highly competitive first half, the University of Calgary Dinos fell to the visiting Saskatchewan Huskies 43–18 in the Nov. 10 Hardy Cup at McMahon Stadium. Faced with a clinical and accurate Huskies attack, mistakes by the Dinos offence proved to be fatal. With the Dinos season at an end, the Huskies claimed the Hardy Cup championship win for the first time since 2006.
Assistant head coach Ryan Sheahan summarized his team’s performance candidly.
“We were a culmination of all the errors that happened in the game. In a day where the defence was up against a very efficient offence, [our] offence needed to respond, and unfortunately we weren’t able to come up with enough effort to do so,” he said.
Both teams committed errors to start the game. Dinos receiver Alex Basilis blocked a Huskies punt to give his unit excellent field position on their opening drive. But Huskies defensive back Josh Hagerty responded by intercepting quarterback Adam Sinagra’s first pass of the game, giving the Saskatchewan offence another chance to work.
The visitors took the early momentum into the second quarter as Huskies quarterback Kyle Siemens found third-year Colton Klassen on a 53-yard pass. Klassen subsequently ran the ball in from the one-yard line, putting Saskatchewan up 7–1 at 11:33 of the quarter.
Early on, the Dinos were able to match their opponents’ efforts. Sinagra completed three consecutive passes to fourth-year receiver Dallas Boath before running back Jeshrun Antwi scored on a nine-yard touchdown run to tie the game 8–8. Later in the second quarter, the Huskies took back the lead on a 28-yard Sean Stenger field goal for an 11–8 score. Stenger would later miss his second field goal attempt from 47 yards, giving the Dinos an excellent opportunity to tie or take the lead.
Unfortunately for the Dinos, Sinagra threw a costly interception with roughly two minutes to play in the half. After consecutive first down plays, Huskies sophomore Nelson Lokombo picked off Sinagra’s pass and returned it 43 yards to the one-yard line. The visitors then capitalized on a one-yard touchdown run from Tyler Chow to make it 18–8.
It wasn’t over for the Dinos who responded with a blistering attack, moving the ball 89 yards in just over a minute. Fourth-year Hunter Karl capped it off with a 30-yard touchdown reception from Sinagra, and the Dinos entered halftime down 18–15.
It was in the second half that things truly unraveled for the home team. Receiving the ball to start the third quarter, Sinagra barely missed Karl on what would have been a long reception downfield. Dinos defensive back Deane Leonard ended Saskatchewan’s next drive with a timely interception, but Sinagra then threw a pick of his own to Thomas Whiting. The Huskies would not be denied in the red zone, scoring on a 10-yard touchdown reception from third-year Carter Dahl. The Dinos cut the lead to 25–18 on a Niko DiFonte field goal just before the end of the third quarter.
Turnovers continued to haunt the Dinos in the fourth quarter, as rookie Jalen Philpot fumbled the ball after what would have been a first-down catch. Chow then scored on a 23-yard run for the Huskies. The Dinos were unable to regain their momentum and Saskatchewan sealed their win with another Stenger field goal and a one-yard touchdown run from Adam Matchart late in the game.
“You can’t win championship games when you turn the ball over as many times as we did today,” head coach Wayne Harris said after the game. “When we needed a defensive stop, we weren’t able to get it, and we didn’t finish on our drives when the offence was moving the ball. Give Saskatchewan credit — they were well-prepared and they executed better than we did.”
In spite of their season-ending setback, Sheahan envisions a bright future for the Dinos program.
“We still have two senior quarterbacks coming back next year, a senior running back, a very young O-line and a very young receiving corps,” he said. “We’re going to be exciting to watch down the stretch. We were just taking this young squad as far as we could go and unfortunately, we came up short.”
The 7–3 Saskatchewan Huskies will now face the 10–0 Western Mustangs in next Saturday’s Mitchell Bowl in London, Ontario. The winner of that game will advance to the Vanier Cup Final.