By Matt Gutsch (U of A), With Photos From Joel Belizario (ISN)
September 15, 2012, Edmonton, AB (ISN) – Guided by fifth-year quarterback Marc Mueller, the No.10 ranked Regina Rams scored 21 fourth quarter points to earn a 31-17 victory over the Alberta Golden Bears Friday night at Foote Field in Edmonton.
Although the Bears dropped to 0-3, this was clearly their best game of the 2012 campaign. Their undoing was mostly self-inflicted as Alberta racked up 88 yards in penalties in the second half, killing any momentum and putting the football back in the hands of one of the best quarterbacks in CIS football. Mueller made the Bears pay by putting together three scoring drives in the fourth quarter to bust open what was a 10-10 football game after three quarters.
Golden Bears Quarterback Curtis Dell passes the ball at Foote Field, Edmonton, Alberta on September 14th, 2012. (Photo: Joel Belizario / Island Sports News)
Third-year Golden Bears’ quarterback Curtis Dell put together his best game as a CIS starter, completing 17 of 32 passes for 206 yards and a touchdown. He also ran nine times for 78 yards and a major, but the Calgary-born QB also tossed a pair of interceptions in the fourth quarter once Alberta fell behind.
Golden Bears’ running back Tyler Lewis, also in his first season as a starter, rushed 12 times for 61 yards, while third-year receiver Ryley Richardson caught four passes for 35 yards. Sophomore receiver Dillon Prince caught three passes for 65 yards, including a five-yard TD pass.
Golden Bears Slotback Dillon Prince completes a touchdown at Foote Field, Edmonton, Alberta on September 14th, 2012. (Photo: Joel Belizario / Island Sports News)
Mueller finished the night with 26 completions on 38 attempts and three touchdowns. He had just 14 completions for 137 yards after the first half, but by games’ end, not only did he pick-up the win, he had also moved into second place all-time in Regina Rams’ career passing yards. Running back Michael Kiapway took 24 handoffs for a total of 124 yards, 101 of which came in the first half. Fourth-year receiver Jay Smith caught six of Mueller’s passes for 98 yards and his first ever CIS TD catch.
Both team’s defences were the star of the opening half, particularly Alberta’s as they limited Mueller to just 54 yards passing, and stopped the Rams on a critical third-down conversion attempt deep in Golden Bears territory.
Regina Rams Slotback Jay Smith is tackled at Foote Field, Edmonton, Alberta on September 14th, 2012. (Photo: Joel Belizario / Island Sports News)
Regina’s third-string place-kicker and usual starting DB Kirby Kazema opened the scoring when he knocked in a 19-yard field goal early in the second quarter.
Five minutes later, the Golden Bears scored their first touchdown of the season when Dell hit Prince in the endzone for a 7-3 lead. That TD came on the heels of a spectacular catch by veteran receiver Jess Valleau, as the fourth-year slot had to climb a ladder and fight off a Rams’ DB to haul in a 41-yard rainbow from Dell along the Regina sideline.
Mueller started to find his groove late in the second quarter, and at 13:17 he found Connor Haas on a six yard scoring play, capping off a nine play 88-yard drive to put Regina up 10-7.
Golden Bears Cornerback Brent Krawchuk lays a hit on Regina Rams Wide Receiver Catlin Schneider at Foote Field, Edmonton, Alberta on September 14th, 2012. (Photo: Joel Belizario / Island Sports News)
Unfazed, Dell got the ball back and promptly led the Bears on a seven play 63-yard drive that finished when rookie kicker Stephen Fabian nailed a 34-yard field goal to make the score 10-10 at half-time.
The defences took over again the third quarter, holding the respective offences to marches, but no points. The Golden Bears defence came up huge once again, when they held the Rams out of the end zone on another third-down conversation attempt.
As the game grew tighter and tighter, however, Alberta’s youth and inexperience showed, as penalty after penalty began to take the Golden Bears out of the game, which in turn afforded the experienced and composed Mueller plenty of opportunity to take over.
On the opening drive of the fourth quarter, just 1:55 in, Mueller marched the Rams on a 55-yard touchdown drive, which was followed by a TD at the 9:02 mark, and another at the 12:49 mark. Sandwiched between those TDs were Dell’s two miscues of the night. He did however take the Bears on an eight play 72-yard drive, which he completed by rushing into the Rams’ end zone in the final minute, to close out the game.
Despite plenty of positives, Alberta is left winless and in last place in Canada West. They are next in action when they travel to Winnipeg next weekend to take on the No.7 ranked Manitoba Bisons (2-0). It will be Alberta’s fourth straight game against a nationally ranked opponent. Regina meanwhile, will stay on the road next weekend when they play the 1-1 and No.9 ranked Saskatchewan Huskies in Saskatoon.
Golden Bears Brennan Van Nistelrooy and Tyler Greenslade both left the contest with injuries and did not return…Fabian finished the game with nine punts and a 36-yard average, and a longest of 49-yards. He also took a bobbled snap 25-yards for a first down in the second half. Veteran defensive back Randon Ralph recorded the game high in tackles with 9.5…The Bears racked up 341 yards of total offence, Regina managed 452…Prior to the game, the Foote Field faithful honoured Golden Bears’ alumnus and Alberta’s 10th Premier, Peter Lougheed with a moment of silence. Lougheed passed away Thursday at the age of 84.