FB: Rams open conference schedule with solid win over UBC

FB: Rams open conference schedule with solid win over UBC

University of Regina Sports Information

REGINA, Sask. – The University of Regina Rams opened up the Canada West schedule with a convincing win in a battle of top-ten teams, taking a 36-20 victory over UBC on Friday night at Mosaic Stadium.

After a quiet first quarter, the No. 5-ranked Rams (1-0) scored twice in the first half of the second with a Kyle Moortgat touchdown reception and a short Atlee Simon rush for a major and never looked back. The Rams led 16-3 at the half, and took complete control in the third after a Mitch Thompson touchdown catch and a Tyler Vieira plunge from one yard out to go up 33-6 late in the quarter.

The usual suspects drove the Regina offence in the win. Noah Picton completed 23 of his 35 pass attempts for 335 yards and two touchdowns, while Mitchell Picton was the game's leading receiver with six receptions for 120 yards. Cole Benkic and Polis Koko both had interceptions for the Regina defence, while linebacker Nick Cross – the first Rams rookie to start a season opener right out of high school since Jamir Walker in 2008 – led all players with 7½ tackles including a sack and also had a pass breakup.

Simon, who finished with 14 carries for 63 yards, became the University of Regina's all-time leader in rushing touchdowns. He entered the season tied with Rams legend Neal Hughes with 17, but pulled ahead of Hughes with his second-quarter rumble from two yards out.

No. 7-ranked UBC (0-1) scored its first major early in the fourth quarter after a huge 57-yard punt return by Stavros Katsantonis gave the Thunderbirds the ball at Regina's 43. Five plays later UBC was in the end zone after a Shane Noel run from a yard out, but the Rams forced punts on the next two possessions to end any hopes of a late comeback. Marcus Davis hauled in a 23-yard pass from Cole Meyer in the final minute to finish off the scoring.

Michael O'Connor was 14-for-25 and finished with 155 passing yards for UBC, while Ben Cummings rushed 15 times for 71 yards. Will Maxwell and Payton Lagrange both had big interception returns for the visitors, with Lagrange returning a pick 50 yards in the second quarter and Maxwell returning one 30 yards on Regina's first possession of the second half.

The Rams will now prepare for a big Week 2 road game next Friday at No. 4 Calgary, which also won its season opener on Friday night with a 55-26 victory at Alberta. UBC will be back on the West Coast next weekend with a Saturday home game against Manitoba.