The Dinos football team continued their winning ways on Sept. 14, in front of a raucous crowd of 5,202 fans who gathered at McMahon Stadium to watch Kickoff 2013. Despite facing their stiffest competition of the season, the Dinos improved their record to 3–0 with a 36–24 victory over the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, who were ranked sixth nationally going into the game.
After a fairly even first half which ended with the Dinos leading by a score of 14–13, the Dinos pulled away in the third quarter due to a couple of touchdown passes to receiver Jake Harty. According to quarterback Andrew Buckley, the third-quarter breakthrough was simply a matter of finishing the job.
“There weren’t a lot of adjustments that had to be made,” said Buckley, who was making his second Canadian Interuniversity Sport start. “We were focusing more on the execution of it. We had to execute a little better and just be sharper overall.”
Down 29–13 to start the fourth quarter, the Huskies managed a punt single and a field goal before Dinos running back Mercer Timmis put the game out of reach with a six-yard touchdown run. Timmis finished the game with 23 carries for 123 yards.
“I thought we played well and matched Saskatchewan’s intensity,” said Timmis. “I think we still need to clean up a couple of things — a few too many mistakes and finish drives better. But overall, we came out and we got going.”
Perhaps the biggest question mark for the Dinos coming into the 2013 season was an inexperienced defence which features only two starters returning from the 2012 squad. However, the defence shone against the Huskies, and were on the field for only 13 of Saskatchewan’s 24 points. Hunter Turnbull and Doctor Cassama each had seven tackles to lead the defence to their best showing yet this year.
“They are holding them to nothing, basically,” said Buckley of the Dinos’s defensive unit. “It’s so much easier on the offence when you have a defence to back you up if you go two-and-out. Those guys do an outstanding job.”
Despite winning the first two games of the season, the Dinos have slipped to number five in the CIS football top-10 rankings after starting the season ranked third, perhaps due to losing quarterback Eric Dzwilewski and a less-than-convincing victory over the University of British Columbia to start the year. For Buckley and the Dinos, a win over the Huskies was an opportunity to show skeptics that their team is still one of the best in Canada.
“It was huge,” said Buckley. “It lets people know that we are still for real. We’ve lost some players here and there. This game sort of sets the tone for us and lets people know we’re still here.”
The Dinos took to the field at the start of the game with offensive lineman Sean McEwen leading the charge, waving a Dinos flag as fireworks went off behind the end zone. He was followed by quarterback Jimmy Underdahl holding a Dinos helmet high above his head. The helmet belonged to Dinos defensive lineman Daniel Lamola, who passed away over the summer. Both McEwen and Underdahl were close friends of Lamola, and were teammates with him at Notre Dame High School in Calgary.
The Dinos will continue to take Lamola’s helmet with them for all of the games during the 2013 season.
Up next for the Dinos is another tough test against the University of Manitoba Bisons. The game starts at 6 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 20 at McMahon Stadium.