The Regina Thunder are one step closer to a PFC Championship after a 45-26 win over the Winnipeg Rifles in a Prairie Football Conference Semi-final game Sunday at Liebel Field in Regina.
It was all offense as the Thunder put up 583 yards offense while the Rifles added 453 yards. The difference was the Thunder were able to grind the ball on the ground as two Thunder running backs picked up 100 yards plus. Brayden Long picked up 117 while Lundyn Kups added 100.
Thunder QB Carter Shewchuk was a key performer yet again as he threw for 262 yards on 14 for 24 and added 32 yards on the ground on 3 rushing attempts. He even added a 19-yard reception on a double-reverse pass by Rylan Sokul. Sokul was the top receiver with 134 yards on four receptions and the only touchdown through the air.
Linebacker Stephen Smith had a big day with 7 tackles, 2 QB sacks and a fumble recovery. Fellow linebacker Davin Williamson picked up 9 tackles while linebacker Ryan Mills added 8 tackles.
Head Coach Scott MacAulay was happy with the playoff win. “I’m excited for the players and the organization to take that next step forward to the PFC final. The Rifles were a much-improved team from games one and two however our players did a great job ensuring success and finishing off strong.”
The Thunder will meet their provincial rivals the Saskatoon Hilltops in the PFC final Sunday November 14th at 1:00pm at Mosaic Stadium. The Toppers defeated the Edmonton Huskies 33-31 on a last second 5-yard touchdown grab by Dillan Heintz.
Saskatoon relied almost exclusively on the passing of QB Damon Dutton and the running of Carter McLean. Dutton was 21 of 39 for 285 yards while McLean picked up 85 yards on 23 carries and 3 touchdowns.
The Thunder defeated the Hilltops twice this season, both on last minute scores. The two teams are so evenly matched it sets up as an epic PFC final.
MacAulay knows a third game versus the Hilltops will be a huge challenge for the Thunder. “The Hilltops are extremely well coached. I am excited to see what Coach Sargeant draws up this week. They have a lot of players that have played in several championship games and we know they will be fully prepared for battle.”
Each win adds to the most successful season in Thunder history as the team had never gone undefeated in the regular season and had never finished atop the PFC standings. It has been a great year but for the Thunder this magical season is far from over. The 6-time defending National Champion Hilltops stand in the way of the club’s second ever PFC Championship. It is one of the most anticipated PFC finals in many years. If the last game between these two teams, a 30-27 Thunder win, was any indication of what is to come on Sunday, you better not miss it! See you at the stadium!