By Riley Stovka, September 29 2021—
A steel grey curtain hung over the sky, blocking the sun and dismissing shadows. It was fall and it was perfect football weather.
In their first game back since the 2019 Vanier Cup, the Dinos looked to make a statement against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies — and a statement they made. The Dinos cruised to a 34-20 victory, led by fifth-year Dino and first-year starting quarterback, Josiah Joseph, who threw for 451 yards and three touchdown passes. Joseph, with the composure of a seasoned veteran, repeatedly took snaps under pressure, scanned the field and launched the ball to the pair of receivers that scored all three of the Dinos passing touchdowns. The Philpot brothers, Jalen and Tyson, combined for 401 yards as they burned the Huskies’ defense play after play.
“Our defense has to defend them everyday in practice and they drive the coaches crazy and so it’s nice to have them in our lineup,” says Dinos Head Coach Wayne Harris. Harris, who has coached the Dinos since 2015 and has led them to two Vanier Cup games, routinely sent out his star receivers to terrorize and embarrass the Huskies’ defense with a perfectly tactful air assault.
Having the Philpot brothers on the Dinos roster adds more than just explosive showcases of masterful route running and highlight-reel catches, their leadership has made them invaluable members of this Dinos squad.
“The leadership has really emerged this year and you can’t say enough good things about them and what they’ve done for our program. I [could] see from day one from the step into camp that they operated on a different level than almost anyone on the field,” praised Harris, who in his nearly 40 years as a Dinos player and eventual coach, has seen his fair share of talent come and go through the program that has firmly supplanted itself as the best in the nation.
It was clearly evident, however, that the Dinos haven’t seen the field in well over a year and half. Their opening drive resulted in a sack and a punt, and it took the offense nearly the first quarter to finally start clicking. And once they did, fireworks.
The thousands in attendance were treated to quite the display as Joseph found Jalen for a 28-yard reception to put the Dinos in perfect field position to score a 13-yard touchdown on the very next play, also caught by a wide open Jalen in the endzone.
A key drive right before half-time saw Coach Harris pull out a few tricks as he called for a quarterback sneak on third and inches to extend the drive, a drive that resulted in a 24-yard touchdown pass to, of course, Jalen Philpot, putting the Dinos up a touchdown going into the half.
The Dinos would not relinquish the lead for the rest of the game, but that’s not to say it didn’t get close. The Huskies, led by their own sharpshooting QB, two-time All-Academic, All- Canadian Mason Nyhus, completed a beautiful pass to a Huskies receiver to convert on a third and long to make it a one-score game at 27-19 with 1:21 left in the fourth quarter.
With the ball in their hands and a minute left in the game, Joseph dropped back in the pocket and launched a 53-yard pass to Tyson Philpot, who juked a handful of Huskie defenders and waltzed into the endzone to ice the game, 34-20.
With this last awe-inspiring touchdown pass, the crowd exploded. Roars echoed throughout the stadium as the hometown team dispatched their first opponent of the 2021 season. Fans and family flooded the field to celebrate with the victorious Dinos, hoping, believing that this team can and will repeat as National Champions.
“It’s a great feeling to be back on the field, the players were so excited for this game today, and the coaches were too.” added Harris postgame.
The Dinos could not have asked for a better way to start their title defense, as the quest for back-to-back Vanier Cup championships continues as they travel to Saskatchewan to face the University of Regina Rams.