Another Heartbreaker Puts the Rams into Survival Mode
The Rams come up one point short for the second time this season
The Rams played another solid game that was just a tiny bit short. On Saturday, Sept.28, against the University of Manitoba Bisons, the final moments of the game were a carbon copy of week two’s nail biter against U of A, only inverted. With no time left on the clock and down 24-26, the Bisons got into field-goal range. From the Rams 39-yard line, kicker Matt Riley attempted his third field goal of the game and it was good. The Bisons won 27-26. For QB Josh Donnelly, the heartbreaking result doesn’t take away from the team’s effort on the field.
“I think we did well. We competed hard the whole game. I am proud of the guys for not quitting and going all the way to the last second.”
The ending of the game wasn’t the only place where the script flipped. The first play of the game was also a far cry from the team’s previous slow starts. The Rams scored not only on their first possession of the game, but their first play of the game. Josh Donnelly tossed an absolute bomb to Kyle Moortgat for an 85-yard reception and a touchdown. Donnelly’s rookie season has been something to be witnessed. Coming back from a shoulder injury, the Rams starting quarterback passed for another 250 yards against the Bisons. This brings his season total to 1288, good for third in Canada West, despite only playing four games. Coming back from injury, Donnelly shows poise and experience.
“It’s frustrating not being able to play and being on the sidelines, but Seb did really well against Calgary and gave me time to get back to full speed.”
Notably, the Rams also have three of the league’s top six receivers with Mortgat, Stusek and Boersma. So, in short, the Rams are a top passing offence in Canada West with a defence that is oftentimes their better side of the ball, yet they are 1-4 so far in 2019. This is largely due to the young roster’s inconsistency this season, of which the game against the Bisons is a textbook example.
After opening the game with a touchdown on their first play, the Rams defence then allowed two quick touchdowns on their next two drives. After this the defence was great, allowing only one other major in the game. In fact, they hardly allowed any scoring drives. Unfortunately, the two others that they did came in the last four minutes, and one of those was the game winner. The silver lining is that the team clearly wants to win and is able to bounce back from a tough start; this is something Donnelly can lean on.
“I think its huge, especially going forward to [the] playoffs where the games get harder and harder. If we get knocked down a little bit, we can take a step back and keep fighting.”
As with every other close game the Rams have came up short in this season, there were big bright spots. Semba Mbasela continues to impress in his first season as a starter, rushing for 64 yards on Saturday. Second-year linebacker Ryder Varga has also been a revelation for the Rams this year, and he continued to make his mark on Saturday, leading the team with 9.5 tackles.
The Rams are truly in do-or-die mode now. If they want to make the playoffs, they will need to lean on their strong passing offence and polish out their inconsistencies. Any loss in their final three games will mark the end of their season. They begin this final push with a home game Friday, Oct. 4 at Mosaic Stadium. They demolished the Thunderbirds 46-16 in their first game of the season and will look to have a momentum-building home game. Despite this mounting pressure, for Donnelly, it’s going to be business as usual.
“I don’t think [the pressure matters] I think we’ve been approaching every game as a must win, and I think the focus and intensity levels are going to take another step forward.”