Lacombe Rams 27 – 21 Lindsay Thurber Raiders
The fourth place Lacombe Rams came into their semifinal game looking to be the plucky underdog story against the first place Lindsay Thurber Raiders.
In the upset win of the year, Lacombe pulled out a 27-21 win, riding three touchdowns by Cody Melnychuk.
“We are feeling amazing. It was a good game,” Melnychuk said.
Lacombe came into the game struggling against Red Deer city teams, but that didn’t stop them from getting out to a quick start when Melnychuk took a handoff early in the first quarter and ran it back 72 yards to take an early 7-0 lead.
The Rams would continue to surprise in the first frame when a Raider fumble in their own zone lead to Melnychuk taking the handoff for a one-yard score, leading to 14-0 Ram lead heading into the second quarter.
“It was a bit of a shocker if you take a look at what we did this year,” Coach Brian Ross said about the hot start. “When you start off strong, it can be a bit of a game changer.”
After spending much of the 2nd quarter in the Rams zone, the Raiders followed up a Rams fumble with a five-yard touchdown by Will Moir which cut the Lacombe lead in half with two to play in the first half.
It looked like Quarterback Joel Collins tied the game up at 14 as time expired, but after officials dug through the pile they ruled that the Raiders didn’t cross the goal line leading to a 14-7 Ram lead at the half.
Moir would make up for the Raiders 2nd quarter struggles when he returned the opening kickoff of the second half for the score, tying the game at 14.
Lacombe luckily had the answer after a long 55-yard Zach Schwab catch lead to pivot Mitch Simmons calling his own number for a one-yard score and 21-14 lead.
Moir once again responded for the Raiders with his third score of the game on a 28-yard run, tying the game up once again at 21-21 heading into deciding fourth quarter.
“The other team was amazing. They fought us right to the end. Number 34 (Moir) can really run the ball,” Melnychuk said.
Melnychuk would score his third of the game on the opening possesion of the fourth, taking the handoff from Simmons for a 16-yard drive — once again giving the Rams the lead: 27-21.
“He (Melnychuk) is just a tank. I love that kid. He doesn’t come off the field. He is gutsy and he just loves the game,” Ross said.
The deciding play of the game came when the Raiders were inside the Rams red zone with less than two minutes to play. Collins tried to connect with Moir for another touchdown, but Carson Mottus made the play of the game —slapping the ball out of Moir’s hands.
On the ensuing play, Schwab would catch a 40-yard pass to seal the deal, leading to a 27-21 upset win for the Rams.
“Lindsay Thurber put up a heck of a fight. They were the real deal and we had a couple breaks that went our way. That game could have gone any way and 34 Will Moir is crazy good. We struggled trying to stop him,” Ross said.
The Rams will take on the Hunting Hills Lightning in the City Finals, Saturday at 5 p.m. at Great Chief Park in Red Deer.
“We are definitely going to work on our offence and our o-line and with our defence, we are really going to rely on those guys,” Melnychuk said about Hunting Hills.”
Ross said the Rams have to contain the Lightning’s guys.
“We will plan. We will sit and watch film and figure it out,” Ross said.