The University of Calgary Dinos football team won their first game of the year in dramatic fashion, with freshman quarterback Dalin Tollestrup setting a school-record for a blazing 105-yard pass with under a minute to go.
The game was a thrilling 30-27 come-from-behind-victory over the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds at McMahon Stadium Sun., Oct. 22. The T-Birds were the ninth-ranked team in the nation going into the game. The win puts the Dinos at 1-6 on the season.
“[Success now] is important,” said head coach Blake Nill. “We have to prove to the people–the recruits, the families of the recruits–that we are a legitimate program. We are taking the right steps to correct the past. We’ve gotten better every time, and I think that indicates we are moving the right way.”
Down 27-8 heading into the fourth quarter, the comeback was spurred on an interception by Canada West defensive player of the week Chase Moore.The interception put the Dinos in prime field position on the Thunderbirds’ 24-yard line. Tollestrup used the advantage, tossing a 24-yard touchdown pass to slotback Jim Lillico.
After an Aaron Ifield kickoff, UBC got the ball back on their 34-yard line, but could not hang on to it. Quarterback Blake Smelser fumbled and–combined with a 15-yard UBC penalty–the ball was turned over to the Dinos on the T-Birds’ 22-yard line.
The Dinos made use of the great field position again two plays later when runningback Anthony Woodson ran the ball into the end zone on an 11-yard touchdown, making the score 27-22.
“Woodson is a first year-guy and he’s outstanding,” said Nill. “He [could be playing] down in the states.”
Down 27-22, with under a minute to play, facing third and long on his own three-yard line, Tolllestrup completed a school record 105-yard pass to Adam Bunz, who ran the ball all the way down to the T-Birds’ second yard line.
“It’s big plays right?” said Nill. “We finally made some big plays. That’s what offence is. We’ve been fairly consistent all year moving the ball between the goal lines and then we stall at some point. What you saw the other day was us finally hitting some plays that went for more than 20 yards.”
Anthony Woodson punched the ball in on the next play. Tollestrup then completed a pass to slotback Ryan Baum for a two-point convert, making the score 30-27.
The Dinos’ defence then came up huge, forcing the T-Birds to go three and out, as UBC tried desperately to march the ball down field.
“Look, no matter what situation the game is, you can’t revert back to being an undisciplined team,” said Nill. “You have to play disciplined football for 60 minutes. I reminded these guys that I expect them to do that. I know it didn’t look good for us. Basically it looked like we were going to lose. They looked at it, I guess took it to heart a bit.”
Moore led the way on the defensive side for the Dinos, recording 11 solo tackles in the game and a key interception that started the Dinos’ comeback.
The defence put a lot of pressure on Smelser, sacking him three times, twice by Damony Simmonds, and intercepting him four times. Richard Fowlstone had two interceptions and Jon Waldie had the other two.
Tollestrup went 17 for 43 in the game, throwing 316 yards with two interceptions. On the ground Anthony Woodson had 119 yards on 21 carries for two touchdowns. Bunz led the wideouts in receiving, with 132 yards on four catches.
“Tell people to have faith in our young guys,” said Nill. “I tell you, they’re good. I’ve been around the game a long time, they’re a good group of kids.”