In a bid to secure a playoff spot at home for the second season in a row, the Golden Bears hosted the Regina Rams on Saturday October 30 in their last regular season game at Foote Field.
The raucous crowd was sent home happy as the Bears stunned the Rams and home fans alike with a huge comeback in the fourth quarter to continue the momentum from their previous thrilling 36-30 win over the Calgary Dinos the weekend before.
The Bears started the game half asleep by throwing an interception on their own 30 yard line, putting the Rams in a dangerous position to score. The Rams did not waste this opportunity and after a four play drive, quarterback Bryden O’Flaherty threw a 19 yard pass to D’Sean Mimbs that resulted in the first touchdown of the game, which gave Regina a 7-0 lead with 11 minutes to go in the first quarter.
This early mistake by the Bears appeared to have a noticeable impact on the players’ spirit, who could not get their heads in the game, resulting in poorly executed plays for the rest of the first quarter.
Upon receiving a punt from the Rams, the Golden Bears took advantage of a no yards penalty against Regina, putting Alberta on the Rams’s 25 yard line. The Bears made a desperate attempt to get a touchdown that would erase their mistake from the first quarter and put them back in the game, but the Rams managed to get good defensive stops that forced two incomplete passes by quarterback Brad Launhardt.
The Golden Bears ended the possession by scoring a field goal and putting themselves on the board with 13 minutes left in the first half. Unfortunately, the Rams would answer with two field goals of their own, making the score 13-3 to end the half.
The third quarter began much like the first half ended, as Regina continued with their relentless offensive and defensive pressure, resulting in two more field goals, and tacking on another one to begin the fourth quarter, to give the Rams a commanding 22-5 lead.
All was not lost, however, as the resolve of the Bears would transcend the 17 point fourth quarter deficit. Life came back to Foote Field when the Golden Bears finally gave the fans something to cheer about, as Chevy Thomas had an electric 37-yard touchdown reception from Launhardt, breaking tackles to get the score.
The Alberta defence also began to get big stops and turnovers, led by linebacker Josiah Schakel, who finished with nine tackles, two sacks, and a forced fumble. The Bears would then miss a field goal, only to have Regina fumble the return into their own end zone and recovered by Tyson Krushelniski to get Foote Field in a state of confused excitement, cutting the lead to 22-20.
Having officially swung the momentum in their favour, Alberta successfully attempted an onside kick to immediately get the ball, and the outcome of the game, in their hands. After a series of successful rushing plays, led by running back Matthew Peterson, and bolstered from the stout offensive line, the Bears would kick a field goal to put them ahead 23-22 with 56 seconds remaining.
Despite the Foote Field faithful feeling confident, the tension in the stadium would return as Regina would go on a frenetic drive to put themselves on the 30 yard line, in a position to kick the field goal for the win. The field goal was no good and was returned by receiver Sony Bermudez-Chavez to the two yard line to avoid the single to tie the game thus sealing the win and the play-off spot.
The Golden Bears (3-2) are visiting the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds (2-3) on Saturday November 6, in search of a winning record on the regular season for the first time since 2005. A win in Vancouver along with a loss from the Manitoba Bisons will give Alberta their first home playoff game since 2005.