Third-year quarterback Noah Picton engineered two massive drives in the game’s final minutes, first leading the team on an 11-play, 87-yard drive that he finished off himself with a one-yard plunge. It looked bleak for the Rams after their onside kick attempt failed and Manitoba got the ball down to the Rams’ 24-yard line up by five, but Korey Greene’s tackle on Alex Christie jarred the ball loose and Zack McEachern pounced on it to give the Rams new life.
And the Rams offence did it again, starting from their own six-yard line. The big play was a Picton pass to Riley Wilson for a 49-yard gain and the nine-play, 104-yard drive was finished off with a touchdown pass to Ryan Schienbein on a 3rd-and-5 situation from 15 yards out.
Manitoba had one last chance with a heave towards the end zone, but there were only Rams in the vicinity and Joey Dwyer picked it off to seal the win.
“This might be my proudest moment so far as a coach,” Rams head coach Steve Bryce said. “Feeling a part of the Rams family for over 25 years and knowing how hard these guys have worked, it’s such an incredible feeling to come away with the win tonight.”
Picton finished with video game numbers in the win, setting school records in both completions (40) and pass attempts (60), throwing for a career-high 490 yards, and tossing four touchdown passes for the second consecutive week.
Mitchell Picton and Riley Wilson both hit the 1000-yard mark in career receiving yards in the win. Wilson had eight catches to lead all players with 127 yards, while Picton tied Schienbein for the game high with nine receptions and had 108 yards and two majors. Khalid Kornegay just missed hitting triple digits for the second week in a row, finishing with six catches for 94 yards and a touchdown.
Second-year running back Blake Anaka stepped in for an injured Jens Johnson and had 11 carries for a career-high 79 yards.
Danny Nesbitt led the team in tackles, finishing with seven solo and six assisted including one for a two-yard loss. Braedy Will had the team’s first interception since 2014 after picking off the ball in the end zone late in the third quarter, while Mason Rossler had five solo tackles, two assisted tackles, and a pair of pass breakups.
The Rams (1-1) will now prepare for a road tilt against UBC (1-0) next Saturday in Vancouver.
Manitoba (0-2) is back in action next Friday with a home game against Alberta (0-1).
(Courtesy Braden Konschuh)