An interception by James Vause in the dying seconds of the game helped preserve UBC's first win of the season as the Thunderbirds held on for a 33-28 victory over the Regina Rams on Friday night in Canada West football action at Mosaic Stadium.
After a UBC field goal put the visitors up 33-28 with just 42 seconds to go, Regina rookie quarterback Bryden O'Flaherty hit three different Rams receivers in three consecutive plays for a total of 64 yards to get all the way down to the UBC 18-yard line. O'Flaherty went for paydirt on the next play as he tried to find Riley Boersma for the major, but Vause picked off the pass to seal the win for UBC.
The Rams at one point trailed 23-6 after a UBC touchdown midway through the third quarter, but the home side got back into the game shortly after that with two touchdowns in the span of 49 seconds. After Semba Mbasela ran it in from three yards out for his first career touchdown, defensive lineman Brandon McKimmon intercepted a pass attempt that was deflected by Josh White and took it 11 yards to the house for the Rams' first pick six since the 2010 season.
But on the next Rams possession following the McKimmon touchdown, Colton Hippe was intercepted by UBC's Max Kennedy on his only pass attempt of the game. Kennedy took it back to the Rams' 10-yard line, and UBC took full advantage with a Charles Lemay one-yard touchdown that put the Thunderbirds up 30-20.
The only bad news for UBC on Friday night was on the out-of-town scoreboard. Saskatchewan's win over Manitoba eliminated the Thunderbirds from the Canada West postseason race, while that same result keeps the Rams alive in the playoff hunt.
REGINA HIGHLIGHTSMaking his first career start, O'Flaherty overcame some early struggles in a big way late in the contest. In the fourth quarter alone, the product of the Bishop O'Byrne program in Calgary completed 10 of his 14 pass attempts for 155 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown to Kyle Moortgat late in the contest. Mbasela was brilliant on the ground for the Rams, finishing with 22 carries for a career-high 135 yards including that third-quarter touchdown. Eric Wicijowski led the Regina defence with a pair of sacks and also recovered a fumble, while McKimmon and Travis Semenok both had interceptions.
POSTSEASON CHANCESThe Rams are two wins out of a playoff spot with just two games to go, so obviously they would need to win both of their remaining contests – at Alberta and at home to Manitoba at Leibel Field – to have any chance at squeaking into the postseason. In addition to those two results, the Rams would also need a road win from league-leading Calgary over the Bisons in Week 7.
NEXT UPThe conference will enjoy a bye week coming up before returning to action for the final two weeks of the regular season. The Rams face Alberta on Oct. 19 in Edmonton and Manitoba on Oct. 25 in Regina, while UBC will finish off its campaign with a home game against Saskatchewan (Oct. 19) and a road game at Calgary (Oct. 26).