Give him the finger! Calgary Dinos receiver Nathan Coehoorn (#82) is determined to get that ball.
the Gauntlet

Dinos deliver in biggest game to date

Playoffs in sight as Dinos climb to sixth spot in CIS top-ten rankings

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Na na na na. Na na na na. Hey hey hey. Goodbye.

A boisterous crowd sung the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds off the field Saturday after the University of Calgary Dinos football team thumped them 24-11.

The win earned them sixth place in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport top ten ranking-- the highest they've placed since 2003.

The game was a defensive battle from the beginning until the end and the Dinos offence backed up the hardened defence with three touchdowns in the game. The win moves the Dinos closer to the playoffs as they are currently in a three-way tie for first with the Simon Fraser University Clan and University of Saskatchewan Huskies.

"It feels great [to see the offence scoring]," remarked receiver Taylor Altilio. "It's like a relief; we finally got a weight off our backs by cracking [those] touchdowns."

On the sidelines, the trainers, equipment managers and other staff spoke of the positive feeling they had before the start of Saturday's game. They were right. Calgary's offence exploded for three touchdowns, the first offensive Tds for the Dinos since the University of Manitoba Bison bashing earlier in the season.

While the offence was scoring the defence took care of business and forced several turnovers and punts. With the offence producing points, the defence was able to focus on playing conservative.

"The way we look at things defensively is we come out and we play every down the same regardless of the situation," said defensive co-ordinator John Stevens. "That has to be our mindset. Obviously, it's easier for us to do that with a lead, as it makes our play selection less stressful and we do not have to force as many turnovers."

The first points of the game came after UBC conceded a safety late in the first quarter when punter Shawn McIsaac ran through the back of the end zone. These early points sparked the offence and on the next play, with five seconds left in the quarter, Dinos quarterback Deke Junior passed to Nathan Coehoorn for a 64-yard touchdown.

UBC responded with a rouge in the second half. Shortly after, Junior threw one of his three interceptions on the day to Alex Betts who ran the ball into the Calgary red zone. Dave Boyd punched in from the Calgary one-yard line several plays later. The point after brought the score to 9-8. The rest of the half was uneventful as Calgary went into the locker room holding the slim one point lead.

The third quarter began and ended with little happening offensively. Both defences clamped down and the game went into the fourth quarter with Calgary continuing to hold the one point advantage.

Whatever Dinos head coach Blake Nill said to the team at halftime finally worked in the fourth quarter.

"I think the main thing was that I told the team that our season is on the line right now," said Nill. "We are hanging on by our fingernails, hanging on by one point heading into the half [and] if we lose this game, we are not going to make the playoffs."

The team took his speech to heart and responded in the fourth quarter. Junior threw two touchdown passes to Altilio and Jordan Flagel. Altilio's touchdown was the first of his CIS career.

"A weight off my back, it has been six years and I finally got a touchdown, it is amazing," Altilio enthusiastically stated.

The elite defence proved themselves as they held UBC to only three points in the fourth quarter, ensuring that Calgary would leave the field victorious.

The Calgary defence was able to completely shut down the Thunderbirds on the day, holding the running game to 68 yards, and the passing game to just over 200 yards.

"We were effective mainly because our defensive line and our linebackers executed their assignments very, very well," said Stevens as Sweet Caroline blared from the locker room. "I'm proud with how they have been playing."

The win was an honourable tribute to the 1988 Vanier Cup winning Dinos team, who were celebrated at half time. Calgary will receive a much needed rest this week as they are in a bye week.