The No. 4-ranked University of Regina Rams improved to 4-1 on the season and improved their winning streak to four games with a 37-29 win over visiting Saskatchewan on Saturday afternoon in Canada West action.
The game was the first to be played at the new Mosaic Stadium, with the announced crowd of 16,500 setting a new Canada West attendance record in any sport. The Rams avenge their only loss of the season with the win, as they suffered a two-point overtime loss in Week 1 to the Huskies in Saskatoon.
“Overall I thought the guys played pretty well besides a few penalty issues, and they were able to stay focused all things considered,” Rams head coach Steve Bryce said. “We really enjoyed the big-game atmosphere at the new stadium, and I really hope that we hooked some of them and we’ll see some of them out for our next home game against UBC.”
Rams quarterback Noah Picton completed 29 of his 42 passes for 370 yards and four touchdowns, throwing two majors apiece to Mitchell Picton and Ryan Schienbein. Schienbein finished as the game’s top receiver with career highs in both receptions (13) and receiving yards (189), while Picton had seven catches for 85 yards. Atlee Simon had his best game of the year for the Rams, finishing with a game-high 114 rushing yards on 23 carries.
Nicholas Dheilly led the Rams with 7.5 tackles and also brought down Saskatchewan quarterback Kyle Siemens once to pull into sole possession of the Canada West lead with four sacks on the season. Danny Nesbitt had a pair of interceptions to become the first Rams player with multiple picks in a game since Kirby Kezama in the 2012 Hardy Cup game, while Jeff Propp added his second interception of the year.
Siemens was 23-for-43 for Saskatchewan (2-3) and finished with 265 passing yards including a five-yard touchdown to Colton Klassen in the first quarter. Tyler Chow had 17 carries for 63 yards and a pair of majors, while Chad Braun had four catches for a team-leading 83 yards.
Spencer Krieger and Eric Thakurdeen both had interceptions for the Saskatchewan defence.
Nesbitt’s first pick of the game set up the game’s first score. The Rams finished off a quick four-play, 45-yard drive with a 11-yard touchdown pass to Schienbein for the first points at the new stadium. Saskatchewan responded immediately with what would be the longest scoring drive of the game, going 87 yards in eight plays and tying up the game with the short reception by Klassen.
Daniel Scraper’s 29-yard field goal on the final play of the first quarter put the Rams back ahead, but Saskatchewan took their only lead of the game midway through the second after Thakurdeen’s interception set up the Huskies with great field position. Six plays and 27 yards later, Chow punched it in from two yards out to put Saskatchewan up 15-10 including a Sean Stenger rouge on the ensuing kickoff.
But the Rams - and specifically Mitchell Picton - struck twice in quick succession before halftime. Picton grabbed his eight touchdown catch of the year to finish off a 77-yard drive with just over two minutes left in the half, and then caught his ninth of the season from 25 yards just 91 seconds later on a drive that also featured a 30-yard completion to Simon.
Regina took a 24-18 lead into half after another Stenger field goal on the last play of the second quarter, and scored 13 consecutive points in the third to put some distance between the two teams. Picton found Schienbein up the seam for a 60-yard touchdown five minutes into the third and a single, a safety, and a field goal gave the Rams a 37-18 lead heading into the fourth.
That would be all the Rams would need, though Saskatchewan made things plenty interesting after a late Chow touchdown and another Stenger kickoff single made the score 37-29 with under four minutes to go. Saskatchewan got the ball twice in the final minutes of the game, but Nesbitt’s second interception put an end to the first drive and a failed Saskatchewan gamble on third and 21 sealed the win for the Rams.
With the Canada West bye week upcoming, both teams will return to action two weekends from now. Saskatchewan will host UBC (3-2) on Oct. 14, while the Rams will hit the road for a matchup with Alberta (0-5).
NOTES: Noah Picton moved past Mark Anderson for second place on the school’s all-time list in touchdown passes … Picton has 39 career passing touchdowns but has some work remaining to catch former Rams pivot Teale Orban, who holds the Canada West record with 76 … Picton also joins Orban and Marc Mueller as the only Rams ever to collect at least 6000 career passing yards … Mitchell Picton now needs only two touchdown receptions to tie Jason Clermont’s school record of 11 set during the 2001 season.