All season, the Dinos football team has had one major goal, to return to the Vanier Cup and win. On Nov. 20, they moved one giant step closer to that goal after defeating the Saint Mary's University Huskies. The Dinos now head back to Laval to play for the Vanier Cup where they lost last year to the University of Queen's Gaels 33-31 after giving away a 25-7 halftime lead.
The first half highlights on Saturday were predominantly defensive. The much talked about cold weather was far more advantageous for the defensive side of the game than for the offence and receivers in particular. The Dinos offence started the game slowly and went two and out on their first two possessions.
Receiver Nathan Coehoorn scored the only touchdown of the half off a 23-yard pass from quarterback Eric Glavic with two minutes remaining in the first quarter. The Dinos added one point from a rouge by kicker Aaron Ifield, giving the Dinos a 8-0 lead going into the half. The Huskies had five turnovers during the first half, two of which were interceptions caught by defensive back Michael Lau. The Dinos were unable to take advantage of the first half SMU turnovers and failed to add to their lead.
"Give some credit to the defence, the Saint Mary's defence threw some different things at us but I mean we just weren't in sync," said Glavic. "In the second half we started figuring out what they were doing defensively and our offence started rolling and we got a big contribution from Steven Lumbala."
Running back Lumbala opened second half scoring with a 33-yard run to give the Dinos a 15-0 lead. Ten minutes into the third quarter, Coehoorn scored another major catching a 78-yard bomb from Glavic and running it in. Ifield scored a field goal to open the fourth quarter. Huskies running back Craig Leger caught a 38-yard pass from quarterback Micah Brown to give the Huskies their only major of the game five minutes into the fourth quarter. Three minutes later, Ifield scored another field goal and Anthony Parker added a touchdown off a 31-yard pass from Glavic to give the Dinos a 35-8 lead.
"We were able to use all our weapons, we were able to spread the defence out with Glavic throwing the pass and were able to hammer them with Steven Lumbala running the ball," said receiver Matt Walter.
The Dinos beat the SMU Huskies 38-14 at last year's Uteck bowl. The Dinos now move on to face the number one ranked Laval Rouge et Or, who have yet to lose a game this season, at the Vanier Cup in Quebec City's PEPS Stadium on Nov. 27. Laval defeated Western 13-11 in a close defensive game on Saturday in Quebec City.
"I truly believe that our offence might be their stiffest test, you know. We have five or six all Canadians on that offence, a lot of good athletes, an offence line that's established, a veteran quarterback," said Nill. "I look forward to this, I think every coach and player should enjoy this experience. Yes, you're not the fan favourite but you're going into an atmosphere where it's 100 per cent college football."
The Dinos have a losing record in PEPS stadium taking a 59-10 loss at the Uteck Bowl in 2008 against Laval and losing the Vanier Cup there last year. The stadium, which is home to the Rouge et Or, is expected to be packed with Laval fans. Even though it is technically a neutral stadium, it will likely feel like a road game for the Dinos.
"It's been burning inside of us all season and we know we need to get back there," said Walter. "I think we're a little bit less excited to go back this year because we've done that, we've had our fun in Quebec and now it's time to actually go win the game and focus on the business side of football."