It was by far the Dinos’s toughest test of the season. Battling both the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds and the wintry elements, the Dinos overcame an early 17–0 deficit to defeat the Thunderbirds 42–32 on Saturday, Nov. 2 and advance to the Hardy Cup finals for the sixth consecutive year.
Despite falling behind early, Dinos head coach Blake Nill was thrilled with his team’s ability to stay calm in the face of an early deficit.
“I was so amazed at how composed they were,” said Nill. “It blew me away. They just kept their focus and business-like approach and it really impressed me. It really did.”
The Thunderbirds stormed out to a 10–0 lead with just under 10 minutes played in the first quarter. The Dinos seemed to struggle with the snow-covered turf at McMahon Stadium early, as quarterback Andrew Buckley threw an easy interception to Thunderbirds defensive back Jordan Bosa, which UBC quarterback Carson Williams promptly converted into a 35-yard touchdown pass to put his team up 17–0.
After a shaky start, the Dinos offence would adjust to playing in the snowy conditions.
“The nice part was even though it was snowing it wasn’t that cold,” said third-year Dinos centre Sean McEwan. “It was just the wetness that was really the big challenge, especially playing centre and snapping the ball. You need to keep your hands as dry as possible.”
The Dinos stayed calm in the face of this unfamiliar adversity and would slowly chip away at the Thunderbirds’s lead. After Dinos wide receiver Jake Harty caught an eight-yard pass from Buckley at the end of the first quarter, Dinos kicker Johnny Mark would get to work, converting three field goals to put his team up by one at half time.
The Thunderbirds struck first in the third quarter. A 22-yard run by Thunderbirds running back Brandon Deschamps put UBC back in the lead. Mark responded with his fourth field goal of the game to keep the Dinos within three going into the fourth quarter.
Mark, who finished the game four-for-four in field goals despite the challenging playing conditions, was named the Canada West special teams player of the week for successfully keeping the Dinos in the game, as the Dinos only managed one touchdown in the first three quarters.
The Dinos offence finally broke out in the fourth quarter, led by star running back Mercer Timmis, who had a pair of two-yard touchdown runs. The Thunderbirds stayed within seven points of the Dinos until the last minute of play, as Buckley slid into the endzone to secure victory for the Dinos.
The Dinos will hope to capture the Canada West title against the University of Manitoba Bisons in the 77th Hardy Cup on Saturday, Nov. 9 at 2 p.m. The game will be played at McMahon Stadium. Admission for students is free, although less hardy Dinos fans will be able to watch the game from the warmth of their living rooms, as the game will be broadcast on Shaw TV.