July 18th, 2024

Rams get first win at Methanex

By Sean Rooney on August 24, 2017.


It’s just an exhibition game, you might say.

The starters only played the first quarter.

And no, it doesn’t count in the standings.

But make no mistake, the University of Regina Rams were far better than the University of Calgary Dinos Wednesday in Medicine Hat, a 39-3 exhibition football win emblematic of a potential change in the guard in the Canada West conference.

“It definitely does mean something, winning’s always the goal and we showed we have depth, that’s something we didn’t have a lot of last year and it hurt us in playoffs,” said Medicine Hat’s Travis Semenok, a second-year linebacker who saw most of his action in the tide-changing third quarter. “So to come out here, show that our depth can compete, that’s going to help us in playoffs and the stretch to the Vanier.”

Semenok made a strong special teams tackle late in the second quarter just as his team was finding its groove in front of a crowd estimated at 1,000 at the Methanex Bowl. Backup quarterback Seb Britton threw his first of three touchdown passes, a 13-yard jump ball pulled down by Zachary Shalley over two Dinos defenders.

Seven Calgary fumbles —two recovered by the Rams on special teams that led to majors —were the difference on a hot night. The Dinos just couldn’t get anything going and consequently lost in Medicine Hat for just the second time (the first was in 2009 to Montana State University).

“The turnovers, I don’t know if we were in double digits or not for fumbles… I can’t count that high,” said Dinos head coach Wayne Harris with a laugh. “When they take over the ball inside your 30… you’re going to put up points.

“We had a lot of high school guys playing, the second half was almost all guys straight out of high school. They played like freshmen and they’ve still got a lot to learn. It’s a good experience for them.”

Shalley caught an eight-yard pass from Britton in the third quarter, then Britton found Semba Mbasela from 18 yards a few minutes later. Tyler Vieira’s one-yard plunge after another fumble recovery in the fourth plus a few field goals rounded out the Rams scoring. Niko DiFonte’s 46-yard field goal in the first half were the only points put up by the Dinos.

Harris and Rams coach Steve Bryce both pointed out their starters only played the first quarter, after which the score was 0-0. There’s a lot of learning to do before the regular season begins Sept. 1, and their playbooks remained decidedly closed so as not to give any hints to the opposition. Calgary hosts Regina Sept. 8.

“Really it’s all about evaluating younger players, because we’re trying to figure out our depth charts still. That’s the real value of this,” said Bryce. “Last year we were toe-to-toe, I’d give them the edge in our one’s last year versus our one’s.

“This year our one’s and their one’s were evenly matched and our pups beat the hell out of their pups.”

Still, a win’s a win as Semenok noted. And as the only Medicine Hat player on either roster, he enjoyed every minute of it.

“It’s always better to win, it doesn’t matter where you are but it’s always nice to win in front of friends and family,” said Semenok.

Regina boasted the best record in the conference last season but bowed out in playoffs, while Calgary made it all the way to the Vanier Cup. But a strong recruiting class and sky-high expectations were only buoyed for Regina by Wednesday’s outcome.

“We found our mojo, and we’ve got to keep it,” said Bryce. “It’s easier to find it than it is to keep it. These guys, they’re good, they know they’re good, they rely on each other and they’ve got their backs.”

The teams met in Medicine Hat for the third year in a row and fourth time overall. Calgary won the first three matchups.

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