Rams playoff hopes take another hit in Calgary

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Tough road ahead for Rams. Kate Thiessen

The Dinos extend their win streak against the Rams to 16

The University of Regina Rams travelled to Calgary, Alberta on Sept. 28to challenge the undefeated University of Calgary Dinos. In many ways, the game went how it was expected to go; Calgary pulled away with another win 20-7. They extended their home win-streak against the Rams to 16, going back to 2003. Despite the result on the scoreboard, the Rams once again had some bright spots and actually outscored the Dinos in the second half. Notably, the Rams also played with third-year Seb Britton in place of Josh Donnelly. Donnelly has been on fire in his rookie season, passing for over 300 yards in all three of his starts.

Britton had an admirable 218 passing yards, albeit with a poor 13-36 completion ratio. He also didn’t get enough help from the offensive line. He was sacked three times, a testament to Calgary’s strong defence. His favorite target in the game was second-year Bennett Stusek, who had a solid 133 receiving yards on seven receptions. This brings the receiver to the front of the Rams offence in both categories, with 21 receptions for 313 yards on the season. Despite this, for Stusek, his individual performance is secondary to team success.

“Obviously performing individually is good, but you’d like to see it translate to wins more.”

Riley Boersma continues to earn the moniker “big play Boersma.” The second-year standout nabbed another 53 receiving yards, including one reception of 32 yards to bring his season total to 306 with only 13 receptions. As has been the narrative all season long, this passing offence is dangerous, especially when led by the able arm of Donnelly. Stusek sees the future looking bright for the young Rams roster.

“It’s a young crew, we have a lot of young talent on the team offensively and especially defensively. We have a ton of young guys contributing. It’s promising going into the future.”

Another young player, Semba Mbasela started once again at running back and wasn’t able to pick up many yards against a strong Calgary defence. He rushed for only 29 yards to his counterpart Rodrigues’ 43. It was a passing and defense-dominated game.

The Rams defence was a mixed bag, but probably their better side of the ball. They allowed two touchdowns including a big one on the opening drive of the game, an 88-yard march down the field. Notably, this is the second time in two games that the Rams have allowed their opponent to score a major on the opening drive. The defence has proven able to settle down, but they will need to be better out of the gate against Manitoba. The defensive highlights for the team came from Ryder Varga who generated one sack in seven tackles, as well as from Jaxon Ford who caught an interception for a 29-yard swing. With regards to his team’s overall performance, Stusek thinks the team played well.

“I think we played well, obviously they are a really good team. We made some mistakes at crucial times but overall I don’t think we played too bad. It’s nothing to hang our heads about.”

This game is one that the Rams were supposed to lose on paper, but the rest of their games are quickly becoming do-or-die. If the Rams are going to make a run this season, they will need to pick up some convincing wins against weaker Canada West competition, starting with the 2-2 Manitoba Bisons next week. Despite the mounting pressure, Stusek is confident in his young team.

“We are kind of in the playoffs now – every game is a must win, but we have four beatable teams so if we can stick to our game plan, we will be fine.”

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