The University of Regina Rams trailed by six at halftime, but reeled off 42 unanswered points in the second half and coasted to a 49-20 win over the UBC Thunderbirds on Friday night in Canada West action at Mosaic Stadium.
The victory improves Regina's record to 1-1, while UBC has now dropped two consecutive games to start the conference schedule.
Second-year running back Michael Kiapway rushed for a career-high 118 yards – 72 of which came in the third quarter alone – and scored his first two CIS touchdowns in the victory. His two majors came in a span of less than three minutes early in the second half, with the second immediately following a Benton Gieni interception at UBC's two-yard line.
Fifth-year quarterback Marc Mueller completed 16 of his 24 passes for 241 yards and fired three touchdown passes. Landon Buch, Jared Janotta, and Kolten Solomon had the touchdown catches, with Solomon's five catches and 86 receiving yards leading all players.
Jamir Walker led the Rams defence with a pair of interceptions, including one late in the game that he took back for a touchdown to cap off the U of R's scoring. The Rams had four picks as a team, including Walker's pair, Gieni's game-changing interception, and one by Daniel Knaus as UBC gambled on 3rd-and-8 late in the third quarter.
UBC quarterback Billy Greene cut up the Rams in the first half, but was completely shut down by the U of R defence after the break. Greene was 14-for-24 with 207 yards through the first two quarters, but only completed one of his nine passes and threw three interceptions in the second half.
Daniel English led UBC with 86 receiving yards on just two catches and also had a 10-yard touchdown rush late in the contest. Micha Theil scored the only other major of the contest for UBC, hauling in a 24-yard pass from Greene midway through the second quarter.
Bryan Rideout had a team-high 5.5 tackles for UBC, registered the Thunderbirds' lone interception of the game, and added a pass breakup.
The Rams scored the only points of the first quarter, as a six-yard touchdown rush by Dillon Dawson capped off a nine-play, 65-yard drive that started with a nice 20-yard rush by Dawson. UBC got on the board with a 38-yard field goal by Thomas Moult early in the second, and Theil's touchdown and another Moult field goal gave the Thunderbirds a 13-7 advantage.
Kiapway made his first career touchdown a memorable one, bursting through a hole and rumbling 41 yards for the score to put the Rams back in the lead. UBC had a two-and-out after the Kiapway major and was forced to punt, and the Rams had to do the same after their own two-and-out.
Chris Bodnar then had a 52-yard punt that put UBC back on its own 10-yard line, which set up a play which may very well have been the turning point of the contest. Greene dropped back and tried to find a receiver near the sideline, but Rams defensive tackle Stefan Charles deflected it straight up into the air and into the arms of Gieni at UBC's two-yard line.
Kiapway then punched it in from two yards out, giving the Rams an eight-point advantage.
Mueller then went to work, throwing touchdown passes on three of the U of R's next four drives. First he found Buch for a 28-yard strike, and then Janotta with a six-yard touchdown pass after Lucas Spagnuolo's muffed punt was recovered by Joey Dwyer. Mueller then connected with Solomon for a 44-yard major off a screen pass, giving the Rams a 29-point advantage and ending any hope of a late UBC comeback.
The difference between the two halves for both teams was staggering. UBC held a 306-150 edge in total yards in the first half, but the Rams enjoyed a 307-135 advantage in the second.
Regina will travel to Edmonton next Friday for a game at Alberta (0-2), while UBC will host Saskatchewan (1-0) next Saturday afternoon.
NOTES: Walker is now ranked sixth in Canada West history with 16 career interceptions ... the Rams now hold a 12-7 advantage over UBC in the all-time series ... Regina and UBC will also meet on Saturday, Oct. 13 in Vancouver.
(From U of R Athletics)