The No. 4-seeded University of British Columbia Thunderbirds outlasted the Regina Rams 40-34 on Saturday in a Hardy Cup semifinal game and what was the last football game ever played at Mosaic Stadium, née Taylor Field.
UBC will now prepare to face Calgary as the two teams will square off for the Canada West title at McMahon Stadium for the second consecutive season.
For the Rams, Saturday’s game was simply a case of too little, too late. UBC scored 17 points in a span of just under seven minutes midway through the second half to give the Thunderbirds a 26-point lead, and that was just too much for the Rams to overcome. The U of R scored three touchdowns in the second half of the fourth quarter, but weren’t able to recover any of their three onside kick attempts and UBC was able to kneel out for the win after the final Rams touchdown with just nine seconds left.
UBC quarterback Michael O’Connor was 29-for-40, finishing with 397 passing yards and touchdown passes to Marshall Cook and David Mann. Will Watson was UBC’s leading receiver with nine catches for 116 yards, while Trivel Pinto added five catches for 86 yards and Mann finished with five receptions for 72 yards. Ben Cummings rushed 21 times for 92 yards and a touchdown.
Ryley Butler and Kevin Wiens both had sacks for the UBC defence, while Treymont Levy’s forced fumble late in the third quarter was a big part of the second-half push that swung all the momentum in UBC’s favour.
Noah Picton completed 25 of his 35 pass attempts for 364 yards, including a nine-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Schienbein with seconds remaining in the game. Atlee Simon rushed 16 times for 78 yards and tied Cory Olynick’s school record of three touchdown rushes for the fourth time in his career. Playing in his final game as a Ram, fifth-year slotback Riley Wilson caught nine passes for a career-high 184 yards – most of which came in the fourth quarter alone.
Zack McEachern led the Rams with 10½ tackles, while McEachern, Nicholas Dheilly, Joey Dwyer, and Bryce McKinnon all had a tackle for loss. Cord Delinte picked off O’Connor deep in Rams territory for the second time in three weeks, intercepting a ball on the three-yard line and running it back 47 yards for the team’s longest interception since the 2013 season.
UBC will be in Calgary for the Hardy Cup next weekend. The Dinos destroyed the U of S Huskies 47-17 in the other semi to advance to the Canada West final for a 9th straight season. Calgary quarterback Adam Sinagra threw for 271 yards and 3 TD's in the win.
(U of R Athletics/Braden Konschuh)